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Project S.H.A.M.E: The Recovered History of Charles Murray

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We are delighted to post the latest offering of Project S.H.A.M.E., a media transparency initiative led by Yasha Levine and Mark Ames, and now in partnership with NSFWCORP.


Charles Murray

Author of The Bell Curve; Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute

Charles Murray is one of the most influential right-wing ideological architects of the post-Reagan era. His career began in a secret Pentagon counterinsurgency operation in rural Thailand during the Vietnam War, a program whose stated purpose included applying counter-insurgency strategies learned in rural Thailand on America’s own restive inner cities and minority populations. By the late 1970s, Charles Murray was drawing up plans for the US Justice Department that called for massively increasing incarceration rates. In the 1980s, backed by an unprecedented marketing campaign, Murray suddenly emerged as the nation’s most powerful advocate for abolishing welfare programs for single mothers. Since then, Murray revived discredited racist eugenics theories “proving” that blacks and Latinos are genetically inferior to whites, and today argues that the lower classes are inferior to the upper classes due to breeding differences.

The recovered history of Charles Murray

  • In high school, at the height of the Civil Rights movement, Charles Murray burned a cross on a hill in his Iowa town, according to a New York Times profile of Murray. Murray later claimed he had no idea that his cross-burning had any racial significance.
  • Murray spent the peak Vietnam War years (1965-71) in Thailand, first with the Peace Corps, and then, from 1968 onward, in a Pentagon-contracted counterinsurgency program run by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), which operated under cover of academic anthropology research. In 1970, the New York Review of Books exposed the AIR program in Thailand where Murray worked as a covert military counter-insurgency program run by the Department of Defense’s research and development agency ARPA, in cooperation with the CIA. [ 1 ]
  • The American Institutes for Research’s own description of its counter-insurgency program included: “assassinating key spokesmen, strengthening retaliatory mechanisms and similar preventative measures” and efforts to “neutralize the political successes already achieved by groups committed to the ‘wrong’ side. This typically involves direct military confrontation.” The AIR program also tested crop destruction and artificially-induced starvation in order to pacify restive populations, described as a “behavior control plan enhanced by crop destruction.” Referring to its staffers like Charles Murray, the AIR proposal promised: “The social scientist can make significant contributions to the design of all [these] operations.” [ 2 ]
  • Columbia University adjunct professor Eric Watkin’s book Anthropology Goes To War: Professional Ethics & Counterinsurgency in Thailand published the names of the military and CIA officials that Murray worked with in the AIR counter-insurgency program. For example, the “Participants in AIR Advisory Panel Meetings” included Murray’s name alongside “Philip Baston, senior U.S. advisor to the Thai National Police Department”; “Coffey, civic action advisor to the Border Patrol Police most likely Raymond Coffey of Development Consultants, Inc (DEVCON), a CIA-front corporation”; “Maj. Gen. Prasart, commanding general of Joint Thai-U.S. Military Research and Development Center”; “George K. Tanham, U.S. Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency”; “Lt. Gen. Yuan, Thai National Police Department.” [ 3 ]
  • The AIR counter-insurgency program that Charles Murray worked in was designed to serve as a model for the CIA and Pentagon for counter-insurgency operations elsewhere in the world, including back home in the United States. The AIR proposal to the Pentagon stated: “The potential applicability of the findings in the United States will also receive special attention. In many of our key domestic programs, especially those directed at disadvantaged sub-cultures, the methodological problems are similar to those described in this proposal; and the application of the Thai findings at home constitutes a potentially most significant project contribution.” As one study on anthropology ethics observed, it took “little imagination to recognize the identities of the ‘disadvantaged subcultures’” that AIR’s proposal was referring to. [ 4 ]
  • In a 1994, New York Times interview, Murray admitted that his work in Thailand laid the foundation for his harsh authoritarian politics and policies he later espoused in the United States under the political label “libertarianism.”
  • Murray returned to the United States in the early-mid 1970s, and began advising law enforcement agencies to impose harsh zero-tolerance measures on inner-city and minority populations. In 1979, Murray co-authored a series of studies on juvenile crime underwritten by the US Department of Justice, titled “Juvenile Corrections and the Chronic Delinquent” calling for mass-jailings of youths — a plan Murray argued was not “philosophically barbaric and expensive.” The Carter Administration rejected Murray’s proposals; however, under the Reagan Administration, juvenile and minority incarceration rates soared.
  • In 1982, Charles Murray was hired as a research fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a right-wing free-market think tank co-founded by CIA director William Casey. Murray was brought in on the recommendation of Irving Kristol, the godfather of neoconservativism and a board member at the Manhattan Institute. Murray’s position at the Manhattan Institute was bankrolled by well-known rightwing foundations including the Scaife and Olin Foundations, as well as a personal grant from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.
  • Two years later, in 1984, Murray published Losing Ground. It was described by the The New York Review of Books as a “persuasive . . . new variation on Social Darwinism.” Its central thesis was that all government welfare programs should be abolished, supposedly because welfare hurt the very people it was intended to help by “rewarding bad behavior” such as “illegitimate babies.” Murray also called for ending food stamp programs. The New York Times wrote in 1985 that Losing Ground became “this year’s budget-cutters’ bible” noting, “in agency after agency, officials cite the Murray book as a philosophical base” for slashing social programs. [ 5 ] [ 6 ]
  • Murray’s book project proposal for Losing Ground made clear its race-baiting purpose: “a huge number of well-meaning whites fear that they are closet racists, and this book tells them they are not. It’s going to make them feel better about things they already think but do not know how to say.”
  • To promote Losing Ground, the Manhattan Institute “hired a PR expert to turn the unknown author into a media celebrity” and “paid journalists $500 to $1,500 each to participate in a seminar on Murray and his thought” in a campaign costing six figures. The Nation called it an extraordinary campaign to sell Murray to the public”; the New Republic concurred, observing, “The Manhattan Institute’s canny innovation is to rely as little as possible on chance — and as much as possible on marketing [to promote Murray's book]. Of course, money helps too.” [ 7 ] [ 8 ] [ Harvard Business Review for ignoring or distorting data. For example, to “prove” that liberal social welfare spending created poverty, Murray excluded government spending on the elderly from his “evidence.” As Thurow noted, in 1983, 86% of federal social welfare spending went to programs to help the elderly; and the poverty rate for the elderly dropped from 25.3% in 1969 to 14.1% in 1983, refuting Murray’s thesis. Thurow concluded: “The purpose of Losing Ground is to help President Reagan shoot a silver bullet into the heart of the monster called social welfare spending.”
  • In a 1997 speech at an event hosted by the Libertarian Party of Los Angeles County, Murray cheered the explosion of wealth inequality since the start of the Reagan Revolution, noting that greater concentration of wealth meant the rich had much more political power, “making it harder for politicians to bash the rich than it used to.”
  • In 1996, Charles Murray’s decade-plus campaign to end welfare for single mothers paid off when President Bill Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, essentially killing traditional welfare programs with a specific emphasis on cutting welfare for poor families with children. The bill was influenced in large part by Murray’s ideas and policy suggestions. Clinton praised Charles Murray: “He did the country a great service. I mean, he and I have often disagreed, but I think his analysis is essentially right. … There’s no question that it would work,” Clinton said in an interview with NBC News in 1993, referring to Murray’s argument that welfare payments to single mothers incentivizes out of wedlock births.
  • Today, single mothers in America have the least social welfare support in the developed world. Moreover, the US poverty rate in 2005 for children of single mothers was 51%, the highest in the world among similar developed economies, and double the average child poverty rate.
  • Murray’s most famous — and notorious — book, The Bell Curve (1994), co-authored with Richard Herrnstein, promoted racial eugenics theories claiming that whites and Asians are genetically superior in intelligence to blacks and Latinos. Like his previous book, The Bell Curve was also made possible by the generous support of ultra-rightwing foundations, including the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation which dished out $100,000 per year as he worked on his book at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, Murray’s home since the early 1990s.
  • The Bell Curve’s research was criticized by the scientific community as a fraud. “I believe this book is a fraud, that its authors must have known it was a fraud when they were writing it, and that Charles Murray must still know it’s a fraud as he goes around defending it,” wrote a researcher in an article published in The American Behavioral Scientist journal. This is a pattern in Murray’s work: academic fraud and data manipulation. [ 10 ]
  • As FAIR’s Jim Naureckas reported, The Bell Curve heavily depended on research funded by the notorious Pioneer Fund, described as a “neo-Nazi organization” by the Telegraph. The Pioneer Fund’s founder, Wickliffe Draper, advocated shipping blacks back to Africa, and the fund’s first president, a notorious white supremacist named Harry Laughlin, spearheaded the campaign in the early 1920s to restrict Jewish immigration, testifying before Congress that 83% of Jewish immigrants from eastern and southern Europe were feeble-minded. In The Bell Curve, Murray describes Laughlin as “a biologist who was especially concerned about keeping up the American level of intelligence by suitable immigration policies.”
  • ABC News reported in 1994 that almost half of the footnotes in support of “The Bell Curve’s most controversial chapter that suggests some races are naturally smarter than others refer to Pioneer Fund recipients.” One example: Murray and Herrnstein wrote in the acknowledgements that The Bell Curve “benefited especially from the advice of” a Pioneer Fund eugenicist named Richard Lynn. As FAIR reported, Richard Lynn wrote, “What is called for here is not genocide, the killing off of the population of incompetent cultures. But we do need to think realistically in terms of the ‘phasing out’ of such peoples…. Evolutionary progress means the extinction of the less competent. To think otherwise is mere sentimentality.” Another Pioneer Fund researcher, Philippe Rushton, received nearly $800,000 to study the correlation of penis, breast and buttocks size to intelligence. “It’s a trade-off: More brain or more penis. You can’t have everything,” Rushton told Rolling Stone. [ 11 ] When asked about his sources, Murray responded by accusing ABC of waging an “intellectual witch hunt.”
  • Despite its fraudulent scholarship and its promotion of quack racial eugenics, The Bell Curve received glowing reviews in the mainstream press. The New York Times swooned: “The government or society that persists in sweeping their subject matter under the rug will do so at its peril.” Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen rushed to Charles Murray’s defense: “Both Murray and Herrnstein have been called racists . . . Their findings, though, have been accepted by most others in their field, and it would be wrong—both intellectually and politically—to suppress them.” Newsweek told readers not to worry: “the science behind The Bell Curve is overwhelmingly mainstream.” Andrew Sullivan, as editor of The New Republic in 1994, published a 10,000 word article by Charles Murray and co-author Richard J. Herrnstein drawn from The Bell Curve. In fact, the “science” behind The Bell Curve has been thoroughly debunked.
  • In 2005, Murray wrote a lengthy op-ed defending then-Harvard President Larry Summers after Summers falsely asserted that women are genetically inferior to men in math and science intelligence. Murray described criticism of Summers as “Orwellian disinformation.”
  • During the 2012 presidential elections, Charles Murray wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal supporting Mitt Romney’s candidacy because Murray believed that the wealthier the person, the more qualified they are to be president. “Who better to be president of the greatest of all capitalist nations than a man who got rich by being a brilliant capitalist?”
  • In 2012, Murray published his newest variation on eugenics, Coming Apart, arguing that wealth and poverty are a product of breeding, and that the poor are poor because they’re genetically inferior types who interbreed with each other, while the rich are getting richer because they are genetically superior types who are increasingly interbreeding with each other. New York Times columnist David Brooks, author of Bobos in Paradise, gushed: “I’ll be shocked if there’s another book this year as important as Charles Murray’s Coming Apart. I’ll be shocked if there’s another book that so compellingly describes the most important trends in American society.”
  • The Charles Murray Fan Club

    President Bill Clinton: “He did the country a great service. I mean, he and I have often disagreed, but I think his analysis is essentially right. … There’s no question that it would work,” Clinton said in interview with NBC News in 1993.

    Billionaire Charles Koch: According to the Wall Street Journal, Charles Koch named Murray as one of the “authors who have had the most profound influence on his own political philosophy.” (The respect is mutual: Murray admitted that he has “enjoyed a friendly acquaintance with both Charles and David Koch for more than 20 years” and continues “to admire their efforts on behalf of a cause that I share.”)

    New York Times columnist David Brooks: “I’ll be shocked if there’s another book this year as important as Charles Murray’s Coming Apart,” wrote Brooks in 2012 about Murray’s latest book, which argues that wealthy people are wealthy because they are genetically superior to the poor due to interbreeding. “I’ll be shocked if there’s another book that so compellingly describes the most important trends in American society.”

    Reason.TV: In a 35-minute video tribute to Murray, Reason said: “Libertarian intellectual Charles Murray is perhaps America’s most influential social policy thinker.”

    New York Times columnist Ross Douthat: “‘Coming Apart’ is one of the strongest and most lucid explorations of the existing data on the long-simmering social crisis in working-class life,” Douthat gushed in a piece headlined “What Charles Murray Gets Right”. Among those things Murray “gets right” according to Douthat: crackpot eugenics, and the dubious notion that America is currently ruled by a meritocracy, disastrous wars and financial collapses notwithstanding: “‘Coming Apart’ offers a convincing account of how meritocracy has exacerbated the problems that Murray describes — encouraging the best and brightest to work and live and (especially) mate within the cocoons of what he calls the SuperZIPS, segregating Americans by intelligence to an unprecedented degree…”

    Cato Institute Senior Fellow Doug Bandow: “Murray does not ignore or sugarcoat the tough side of liberty,” Bandow wrote in 1997, applauding Murray’s understanding that government social programs are incompatible with liberty and freedom. “Actions have consequences, and free people must bear the consequences of their actions.”

    Christian Reconstructionist Gary North: North praised Murray as a writer who has “presented for us in bone-chilling detail . . . how poor people, in our own country and abroad, have been transformed by humanitarian policy . . . completely dehumanized by the programs that were supposed to be motivated by compassion.” North, a former research assistant to Ron Paul, also believes that homosexuals should be stoned to death, as should children who disobey their parents and women who have abortions or engage in “unchastity before marriage.”

    Dave Weigel, Slate columnist and MSNBC Contributor: “I’m a Charles Murray fan…” (October 25, 2010)

    Former National Review columnist John Derbyshire: Derbyshire praised him: “On the welfare state itself, which he has been studying most of his adult life, Murray is infallible.” (Derbyshire, a well-known racist, wrote a guide to what parents should teach their children about black people, which included “tips” like: “Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.” and “Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.”)

    Libertarian Murray Rothbard: Rothbard, co-founder of the Cato Institute and supporter of David Duke, praised Murray’s Bell Curve for “expressing in massively stupefying scholarly detail what everyone has always known but couldn’t dare to express about race, intelligence, and heritability.”

    Reason magazine: In 1984, Reason magazine placed Murray’s Losing Ground second only to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago as one of the books that “had kept liberty alive over the past two decades.”

    Andrew Sullivan: “I had no interest in this subject until I saw the data in Murray’s and Herrnstein’s book [The Bell Curve]. I was, frankly, astounded by it. As a highly educated person, I had never been exposed to this data. And yet, it turned out it was undisputed.” Sullivan defended Murray’s argument that intelligence is determined by race as “not racist,” writing in The New Republic: “The notion that there might be resilient ethnic differences in intelligence is not, we believe, an inherently racist belief.”

    William Hammett, former president of the Manhattan Institute: “Every generation produces a handful of books whose impact is lasting; books that change basic assumptions about the way the world works (or ought to work…),” wrote in Hammat in a personal memo, describing why he thought the Manhattan Institute should bankroll Murray’s research. “Charles Murray’s Losing Ground could become such a book. And if it does it will alter the terms of debate over what is perhaps the most compelling political issue of our time: the modern welfare state.”

    Charles Murray on the Issues

    Murray on Social Security: “Social Security is a ponzi scheme. That chicken has to come home to roost sooner or later.”

    Murray on privatizing public education: “You may ask, ‘What about those schools in poor neighborhoods which are still just as rotten as they ever were?’ And the answer to that is: if enough of the affluent and middle class solve their education problem, the political urgency of solving that problem [ie public education for low-income Americans] will go away.”

    Murray on the superiority of the private sector: “Compare for example the typical voice that answers the phone when you call a corporation with the typical voice that answers the phone when you call a government agency. Compare the food in government cafeterias to the food in McDonalds.”

    Murray on the surveillance state: “It is possible right now [1997], I am told, to have a sophisticated bracelet on, let’s say, somebody who is on probation — on his arm — and know within a few feet where that person is 24 hours a day. So if there is a mugging on 5th and Pine, you run through all your people on probation and say, ‘Were any of these guys at 5th and Pine at 10:15 last night when this robbery occurred?’ And if they were, you take them to jail. . . . and this is just one example of many of how technology might be used for surveillance and control of criminals…or of citizens…If that technology is out there and if the public mood is sufficiently scared of crime to support it, then that technology can be implemented. And that problem would go away as well.”

    Murray on outsourcing American jobs: “We are underestimating the number of [laid-off] people out there saying ‘This is great!’”

    Source: Charles Murray’s speech at an event hosted by the Libertarian Party of Los Angeles County, 1997.


    Notes:

    1. Counterinsurgency Goes To War cites several documents that list Charles Murray (C. A. Murray) as a participant in meetings with U.S. State Department/Department of Defense as a representative of the American Institute for Research regarding AIR’s counterinsurgency work in Thailand. []
    2. A 1970 Ramparts magazine investigation into counter-insurgency operations details the effects of such behavior control crop destruction programs on a rebellious minority hill tribe, the Meo, during the period that Murray participated in the counter-insurgency program in rural Thailand: “Conditions in the Meo resettlement villages are harsh, strongly reminiscent of the American Indian reservations of the 19th century. The people lack sufficient rice and water…Physical hardship and psychological strain have taken a heavy toll on these people. They are gaunt and sickly; many are in a permanent state of semi-withdrawal stimulated by the shortage of opium to feed lifelong habits. Yet the decay of the Meos’ spirit is even more distressing than the deterioration of their bodies. It is hard to associate the pitiful inhabitants of Ban Song San (a resettlement village) with the defiant rebels remaining in the mountains.” []
    3. Ibid., pp.100-101 []
    4. When leaked to the public, AIR’s direct collaboration with the with military caused a scandal in the winder community of American anthropologists, and is now cited by anthropology ethicists as a textbook example of unethical behavior. []
    5. Then-president of the Manhattan Institute William Hammett described Murray’s book in his personal notes: “Every generation produces a handful of books whose impact is lasting; books that change basic assumptions about the way the world works . . . Charles Murray’s Losing Ground could become such a book. And if it does it will alter the terms of debate over what is perhaps the most compelling political issue of our time: the modern welfare state.” []
    6. According to professor Lucy A. Williams’ Decades of Distortion: The Right’s 30-Year Assault on Welfare, welfare for black single mothers became the major focus of an anti-government campaign in the late 1960 and early 1970s: “Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) or “welfare” was a New Deal program, enacted in 1935 as part of the Social Security Act. But it was always a program that differentiated among its recipients based on race. In its early years it served primarily white widows and their children, who were seen as the “deserving” poor. Gradually, the welfare rolls became predominantly single mothers and their children. States had wide discretion to determine eligibility and many states conditioned the receipt of welfare on the sexual morality of the mother, using “suitable home” and “man in the house” rules to disqualify many African American single mothers. In the 1960s, as a result of the civil rights movement, welfare rights organizing, and several Supreme Court decisions striking down state mandates, the rolls were opened to African American women . . . Although the vast majority of those receiving welfare continued to be white, it was this increase in African American welfare recipients that triggered the Right’s focus on welfare as a magnet to unite various sectors of the Right. The Old Right developed a critique of AFDC that linked it with street crime, busing, deteriorating neighborhoods, and centralization of power in the hands of the federal government. That critique was a central theme in Senator Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign and in Old Right publications such as those of the John Birch Society and the influential right-wing publication Human Events.” []
    7. 3/25/85, Chuck Lane, “The Manhattan Project” New Republic []
    8. Eric Alterman’s 1999 article in The Nation goes into more detail: “Two years before his book became the handbook on handling welfare, Murray was living in obscurity in Iowa, having written nothing more than a few pamphlets. According to Michael Joyce, Murray sent an article to Kristol at Public Interest, whereupon Kristol immediately called Joyce, who was then running the Olin Foundation, and scared up the money necessary for Murray to turn his article into a book.” []
    9. The Institute for Public accuracy lays out some of the funders of Murray’s first big project: The Manhattan Institute “spent $125,000 to promote Murray’s book and pay him a $35,000 stipend, most coming from Scaife [Foundation], which gave $75,000, and Olin, $25,000. Upon publication, it sent 700 free copies to academics, journalists, and public officials worldwide, sponsored seminars on the book, and funded a nationwide speaking tour for Murray that was made possible by a $15,000 grant from the Liberty Fund.” []
    10. Co-author of Bell Curve, Herrnstein, was caught in 1973 using “data that was faked” for his 1971 report arguing that intelligence is inherited and racial. []
    11. Rushton also believes that “Mongoloids (Asians), Caucasoids (whites) and Negroids (blacks) are ranked in that order in average brain size, intelligence, family stability and sexual restraint.” []
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    71 comments

    1. Mark P.

      Hilarious. You can’t buy entertainment like this –

      ‘Murray on the superiority of the private sector: “Compare for example the typical voice that answers the phone when you call a corporation with the typical voice that answers the phone when you call a government agency. Compare the food in government cafeterias to the food in McDonalds.”

      ‘Murray on outsourcing American jobs: “We are underestimating the number of [laid-off] people out there saying ‘This is great!’”

      1. sgt_doom

        Love your comments, sir, outstanding!

        This fantastic blog posting reminds me of Thomas Perry’s fictional book, Metzger’s Dog for some strange reason?

    2. YankeeFrank

      Crackpots like Murray will always exist. What horrifies me is how supposedly liberal institutions like the NY Times, etc., are so comfortable, indeed, even seem to embrace, the racist half-baked eugenicist’s works. As ideas like Murray’s continue to be accepted as part of our cultural dialogue, how far are we from quietly accepting a kinder, gentler form of genocide. For if there is one thing the US seems to excel at, it is creating palatable-seeming versions of policies that in other nations at other times were clearly horrifying monstrosities. From our excellently propagandistic media, to our humane-seeming justice system, to our warmongering as peacemaking, to our economic predation as fair and free markets, the US is fast-becoming the nation that succeeds (at sustaining evil and monstrous systems) where others failed.

      The fact is that if it weren’t for the common sense and actual fair-mindedness of many non-white and white female Americans, ideas like Murray’s would already be completely institutionalized. Just think of how casually Mitt Romney tosses 47% of the American people in the trash-bin, and how that one statement (more than any other) cost him the election in 2012. And yet Obama may be just the man for the job…

      1. jake chase

        “supposedly liberal institutions like the NY Times” are an enormous part of the problem. Not having read the Times (or any other newspaper) since 1971, I was not aware of Murry, but I am impressed by his candidacy for Dante’s sixth circle. Isn’t that the really hot one?

        I knew David Brooks was a rat. But this guy is apparently a Super Rat.

        1. sgt_doom

          As usual, I have to gree with JC, the NYT “liberal” — far cry from the actual definition when I was a kid — no liberal rag would carry Brooksy, Thomas “three chins” Friedman, Judy Miller and her planted Dick Cheney stories, et al.

      2. JTFaraday

        “if there is one thing the US seems to excel at, it is creating palatable-seeming versions of policies that in other nations at other times were clearly horrifying monstrosities.”

        Good point.

          1. LeonovaBalletRusse

            “It’s not torture if we do it.” – “It’s not illegal if the President does it.”

      3. Art Eclectic

        What gets me is that no-where in any of his anti-poor people screeds does birth control play a significant role.

        Extensive advocacy of birth control should always be the first policy towards eliminating poverty.

        1. diptherio

          Education may actually be more important than birth control. The biggest drops in fertility in the “developing” world have occurred where female educational levels increase the most. Hand out rubbers at school too, sure, but I think the school is probably a more effective prophylactic than the rubber alone.

          1. LeonovaBalletRusse

            History shows that real economic opportunity and reality for women is quite effective birth control. If ironing shirts paid better than taking a Big Swinging Dick around the world, there’d be a lot more clean shirts than dirty … well, you know.

      4. diptherio

        It is bizarre. I remember one of my “liberal” econ profs bringing up The Bell Curve, probably five years after it was written. He talked about the conclusions as if they were simple fact (maybe because economists are so enthralled by standard distributions?). When I actually looked into the book, I was appalled.

        1. sgt_doom

          A “liberal” econ prof is usually a member of the Bretton Woods Committee (brettonwoods.org) the lobbyist group for the international uber-rich.

    3. Ruben

      All things considered sounds like a really nice guy :-)

      Apart from the point that you can make a good living out of quackery pleasing the rich, a point of interest in this person’s life work is the need and difficulty of studying the emergence of individual intelligence. For simpletons like Murray it’s just breeding, the Panglossian paradigm, society is a reflection of biology, nothing can be done about it and all that is done to help the poor is futile and got to be stopped.

      The real issue making it difficult to scientifically study individual intelligence is that of the measurement of intelligence itself; this measurement is still not firm, not rock solid, as an objective and quantitative measurement, say like the measurement of mass, or length. The late biologist Stephen J. Gould wrote a great book about the Mismeasurement of Man, btw in the second edition he tackled the methodological problems with Murray’s pamphlet.

      It seems to me that the most reasonable objective and scientific measurement of intelligence lies in finding the number or vector scaling the number of connections between neurons inside the brain. There was a paper in Science that showed how to carry out this counting of synapses.

      I guess this is offtopic for this blog, but it is relevant to discussing what this little man portrayed at the top of this webpage kept busy with.

    4. from Mexico

      Project S.H.A.M.E. said:

      Despite its fraudulent scholarship and its promotion of quack racial eugenics, The Bell Curve received glowing reviews in the mainstream press. The New York Times swooned: “The government or society that persists in sweeping their subject matter under the rug will do so at its peril.” Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen rushed to Charles Murray’s defense: “Both Murray and Herrnstein have been called racists . . . Their findings, though, have been accepted by most others in their field, and it would be wrong—both intellectually and politically—to suppress them.” Newsweek told readers not to worry: “the science behind The Bell Curve is overwhelmingly mainstream.” Andrew Sullivan, as editor of The New Republic in 1994, published a 10,000 word article by Charles Murray and co-author Richard J. Herrnstein drawn from The Bell Curve. In fact, the “science” behind The Bell Curve has been thoroughly debunked.

      There seems to be a good deal of cognitive dissonance going on here. If the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, the New Republic and “the mainstream press” gave The Bell Curve “glowing reviews,” it hardly seems the science behind the book “has been thoroughly debunked.”

      There is a mythology that has grown up around science, and that is that somehow science’s epistemological methods — logic and empiricism — can give iron-clad answers to nagging, age-old questions. Logic and empiricism are thus invoked to trump and/or to silence man’s other principle ways of knowing — dialectic and revelation (which I like to think of as the feelings that arise from the gut, and which of course vary from one man’s gut to another’s). We know, however, from the experience of German racial science where such an uncritical acceptance of science and its epistemological methods can lead. And of course nowadays everyone claims to have science on their side, just as in a prior era they claimed to have God on their side. So would the true “scientist” please stand up!

      I am reminded of the great debates that ocurred regarding slavery that occurred in the United States in the first 2/3 of the 19th century. PBS did an outstanding documentary called God in America that recounts the era. http://www.pbs.org/godinamerica/view/ Both sides of the debate managed to convince themselves that God was unequivocably on their side. To appeal to the fundamentalists, both sides had their cherry-picked scriptures lined up. For the rationalists, both sides crafted and honed their natural law arguments, which are pretty much all today’s social sciences amount to, and which have been around at least since antiquity.

      If more recent “scientific” research is to be believed, men decide what they want to believe due to a complex combination of causes which are for the most part unknown to us. Logic and empiricism then become post hoc exercises in rationalization and searching for evidence to support the predetermined beliefs.

      1. jake chase

        As for the newspapers, that’s easy:

        It is very difficult to convince a man that something is nonsense, when his salary depends upon believing it (and trumpeting it to the world.)

        1. from Mexico

          In reality, it’s not that “easy.”

          The assumption that all journalists and newspaper people are rational egoists (utility maximizers driven only by external
          rewards) is the sort of simplistic thinking that is the hallmark, and the bane, of Pythagorean rationalism.

          When you place individuals into large, arbitrary, and superficial groupings and then make sweeping generalizations regarding their character and motivation, you engage in the same sort of realist ontology and syllogistic logic that Charles Murray does.

          1. jake chase

            If you cannot progress from the particular to the general you will find you cannot get anywhere.

            The existence of a few (isolated) honest journalists is granted, but it proves nothing important about the breed.

            Toadyism pays.

          2. Sufferin' Succotash

            Murray’s warm reception from “liberal” publications was partly due to their desire to appear open-minded and fair towards a wide range of opinion. In today’s zero-sum political climate where every inch of ground is hotly contested, that quaint sort of tolerance is really a sign of weakness and/or lack of principle. Real Americans have the guts not to listen to contrary points of view. It’s all very familiar to anyone with knowledge of, say, France in the 1930s.

      2. SubjectivObject

        “If more recent “scientific” research is to be believed, men decide what they want to believe due to a complex combination of causes which are for the most part unknown to us. Logic and empiricism then become post hoc exercises in rationalization and searching for evidence to support the predetermined beliefs.”

        I’ll take a stab at it: The conventionally socialized human entity, because of its physical and emotional composition refined by long evolution remains first and foremost a mammal in the basis for its perceptions and behaviour.

        Albeit a mammal with a thinking brain, but, that thinking brain is very recent in the chronology of …. things, and the rest of the physical/emotional entitiy has been at it for maybe a billion years.

        The prerogatives of a billion years do not acquiesce, in a relative moment. So, in gross summary, it is the prerogatives and perceptions of the “body” that are, by default, i.e. as without long and conscious investigation by the “self”, the primary motivational basis for socialized human behaviour (in the social “environment”), and most any rationale that may be presented to describe/justify said behaviour is mostly/mostfrequently only a verbal acquiescence to intrinsically non verbal perceptions and motivation operating in the unrealized human entity.

        Using the allegory of another who is better at this than I am: Immaging a horse and buggy well fastened together, with a reinless, and brakeless, rider who themself is unfastened, perched atop the buggy. In a sea of same others. What could possibly go wrong?

        I interpret that whatever intelligence is behind the organization of the natural system, animate or not, that it has been at it a long time, and based on mechanisms indicated by other evolutionary braches, does not “put all its eggs in one developmental basket”. Ergo, all the eggs that support the b i o l o g i c a l survival of the species are not, yet anyways, all in the intellectualmasturbating basket of the recently evolved thinking brain.

        If a spiritual evolution process can be proposed for the so composed human entity, it would seem to need first that the self understand itself and its origin and basis in physicality and sentiment. Personal substantiation of deities and such should be deferred until the subjectivism of the default human psychobiology is thoroughly understood and corroborated with other sincere like minded humans.

        Ever notice how animals “normally” (and for the sake of illustration, no not under the aegis of some programatic human intervention) do not like ambiguity, uncertainty, and ambivalence introduded to the moment? They try to leave the locale. Emotionally, they like, or they dislike. If they dislike, they try to leave. To me this is suggests an emotional basis for intellectual polarization. Humans exhibit polarizations in so many contexts, and are so emotional about it to boot. I propose the emotional prerogative for survival self interest in the intellectual moment is that which defines the exhibited behaviour.

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          You and NC readers might find encouragement in a book published originally in 1901, which may sound “New Age religious” but emphatically is not: It is “Cosmic Consciousness” by Richard Maurice Bucke, M.D., who had spontaneously experienced this event himself. He writes of this event in the lives of persons gifted with “psychological” or neurological evolutionary advancement–the event of sudden “enlightenment” or “illumination” which he calls “Cosmic Consciousness”–in such as Gautama the Buddha, Jesus, Paul, Dante, Francis Bacon, Balzac, and Walt Whitman, Pushkin, Tennyson and Thoreau. Below is a quotation from the Introduction by George Moreby Acklom published in 1946, included in the Dutton paperback edition of 1969, summing up Bucke’s book:

          //*Cosmic Consciousness* is a very difficult book to classify. it does not fall definitely into any of the regular categories. This is due to the fact that Illumination or Ecstasy, of which it treats, is generally thought to belong to the realm of Religion of of Mysticism, or of Magic and the Occult–or even, by some ultra-materialists, to the domain of insanity. In Christian Mysticism, Illumination is the acknowledged third stage of the mystic’s progress, coming after the two preliminary stages of Awakening and Purification. In both Brahmanism and Buddhism it is the reward of long and rigid self-discipline and effort./

          /But to Bucke it had nothing whatever to do with mysticism or formal religion, or with conscious preparation and intention. He was a student of the human mind, a psychologist, and he treated Illumination from the standpoint of psychology, as a very rare but definite and recognizable mental condition, of which many well-authenticated instances are on record and available for examination./

          /He considered, on the evidence that there have been in the last three thousand years of human history, at least fourteen undeniable cases of complete and permanent Illumination, and that in addition to these there have been many other instances of partial, temporary or doubtful Illumination, several of which have occurred within the past century./

          /Noting the increasing frequency of the experience, he deduced that very gradually–and, as it were, sporadically–the human race is in the process of developing a new kind of consciousness, far in advance of the ordinary human self-consciousness, which will eventually lift the race above and beyond all the fear and ignorance, the brutalities and bestialities which beset it today.//
          ———-
          “COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS” by Richard Maurice Bucke, M.D. (© 1969 by E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc.; © 1923 by E.P. Dutton & Company; © 1922 by Edward P.A. Connaughton; © 1901 by Innes & Sons; 500 copies published by Messrs. Innes of Philadelphia in a limited edition of 500 copies.) “in 1879 he produced his first book, “Man’s Moral Nature” (G.P. Putnam & Sons, New York. This is an examination into the relationship between the great sympathetic nervous system of the body and the moral nature of man . . .” (Introduction).
          ——————————
          The Brutes of the Global Reich don’t want to see this happen for others, spontaneously as it does in nature, since this seems beyond the reach of their kind to experience “Cosmic Consciousness” spontaneously; although they are trying to forcibly “evolve the human race” through mind-altering drugs and the practice of Black Magick, they claim. The book, “Babylon’s Banksters” by Joseph P. Farrell speaks of the their mania for exclusive possession of “scientific” and “highest technology” secrets which they think will give them the edge for “survival” opposed to the rest of us. Kurzweil’s Folly fits into this history of mad schemes for the Global Reich’s control of Life, Nature, and Science–which is why it “invests” in “the human body as its marketplace.”

          There well may be some at NC who have had, or will have, the experience of “Cosmic Consciousness” — which might best be called “a gift”. Perhaps your children and grandchildren will experience it. May “survival of the fittest” not be determined by brute force and murder in our time. What we call “morality” has won the day before. In the Era Becoming, may the better morality win again.

      3. Charles LeSeau

        ‘There seems to be a good deal of cognitive dissonance going on here. If the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, the New Republic and “the mainstream press” gave The Bell Curve “glowing reviews,” it hardly seems the science behind the book “has been thoroughly debunked.”’

        Why? Are the NYT, WP, NR, and the mainstream press the last bastions of truth or something? There’s daily debunking going on here at Naked Capitalism that doesn’t get anywhere near those publications (much less glowingly) and is often aimed squarely at them.

      4. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Is there any “science” or “medicine” research today that is not created or cherry picked to yield “private profit” for re-hypothecation every which way?

    5. Goin' South

      The ridiculous excuse for the Iraq War–fight ‘em over there so we don’t have to fight ‘em over here–at least provided a hint at reality.

      What really happens is that they learn how to fight us over there so that they can more effectively repress us over here.

      1. hermanas

        Nailed it, buddy.
        “Affirming the consequent”is a logical fallacy.
        Logic? Let’s talk “payroll”!

      2. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Goin’ – precisely so. Think “drones abroad”. Won’t be long now until the system is “perfected” for use commonly in the States.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Ad hominem too (related). I’ve read Ames’ supposedly most heinous essay, in which he set out to have sex with nine whores in nine hours for the ninth anniversary of eXile. And most of the critics seem NOT to have read it, they go all finger-wagging over the premise. The essay was very sympathetic to the whores. So the disapproval seems to say a lot more about American’s uptightness about sex rather than Ames and women. And the sanctimonious Salon writer ignores that Ames and Taibbi were brutal in their treatments of the appearance and quirks of men too, or that Ames’ guide on how to take advantage of women might help women recognize that they were being used in precisely that way and drop the users/losers.

        1. charles sereno

          Maybe we’re being hasty wagging our fingers at Murray? Just because we’re uptight about his racial premise?
          Actually, after reading THIS Ames article, I did feel like wagging my finger, not that bad a thing to do.

        2. LeonovaBalletRusse

          Yves, imagine what Murray’s program did for the whorehouse “business” in Thailand! All for those “Investors in the human body as its marketplace.”

      2. Justin Boland

        I would never presume to defend another author’s work or their intentions, however, I am puzzled by the fact you seem to be invoking these links to dismiss Mark Ames altogether, and with it, the article on Charles Murray above. Please tell me I am mis-understanding you.

      3. Breitbart4Ever

        hey dermot,thanks for supporting Andrew Breitbarts takedown on Mark Ames, that’s where all that comes from. it’s time to give credit where credit due Breitbart told the truth that leftwing radical hypocrites cannot handle.

        http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2011/08/30/Meet-Mark-Ames–the—-eXile—-Who-Created-the–False–Koch-Brothers-Conspiracy-Theory

        Me Im Not ashamed to say kudos for keeping Breitbart’s message of truth about leftwing radical media figures like Mark Ames alive, he’s aa awful person!

    6. Max424

      “…Dante’s sixth circle. Isn’t that the really hot one?”

      Yeah, it’s pretty hot. You’re trapped in a flaming tomb.

      But the 6th is the place for, let’s face it, fairly benign heretics. I mean, one poor guy guy gets the eternal burning sentence for saying in life, that the soul is extinguished at death. He made a bad guess, is all.

      Charles is more a candidate for the 8th and 9th, I think, the circles below the massive cliff, the two reserved for the worst of the worst, for those who have committed the sins of fraud or treachery.

      Basically, the 8th and 9th mete out eternal punishment to treasonous politicians (is there any other kind these days), bankers, propagandists and paid liars –like Murray.

        1. Max424

          Giggle.

          There’s ice though. Lot’s of it. It’s the core of hell.

          Trapped in ice forever. That’s Satan’s fate. Perhaps a good place for Charles, postmortem, would be to shove him up Satan’s ass, face first, and freeze him there.

        2. LeonovaBalletRusse

          jake, try, try again. I you can’t read it in Italian, try another translation until you get the hang of Dante’s depth of knowledge, especially of fraud and treason.

          1. LeonovaBalletRusse

            Or, *faute de mieux*, see film: “DANTE’S INFERNO: An Animated Epic” – with a host of “visionary animation directors from around the world” [such as Shuko Murase and Yasoumi Umetsu among others], with Supervising Director Mike Disa (© 2010 Stars Media, L.L.C. and © 2010 Electronic Arts, Inc.; Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment, L.L.C.).

    7. SubjectivObject

      If all the white people pulling the main strings of government, hoarding all the wealth, and killing up such mass quantities of other peoples were not such an evolutionary degeneration, then the world would be a much better place.

    8. Brooklin Bridge

      This guy’s success is as good an argument as any that our survival as a species is far from a sure thing.

    9. Dave

      Another example of the “liberal” desire to crucify someone for telling it like it is. The word “liberal”, which derives from the word liberty, does not fit in most cases as the “liberal” usually has a strong desire to restrict, control, and take from those who disagree, using the guns of the government of course.

      I have a suggestion for further reading. Fred Reed is excellent and also “tells it like it is”. He can be found on http://www.fredoneverything.com .

    10. My Wag

      NFSWCorp

      NFSW urban slang 2 options:

      Not Suitable For Work

      Not Suitable For Women

      Quite a reach for such an itellectual.

      1. Justin Boland

        Both of those are actually wrong – it’s “Not Safe For Work” – also, do you generally reach conclusion based on the results of “UrbanDictionary.com” searches?

    11. nobody

      I feel pretty sure that Upton Sinclair was not assuming “that all journalists and newspaper people are rational egoists (utility maximizers driven only by external rewards).”

      The newspapers…would challenge me to say where I was going to get that money [for a "fifty dollars a month pension"], and when I answered they did not publish what I said. Impossible for any editor of a commercial newspaper to understand the difference between a profit system in a state of collapse, driving the State and everybody in it to bankruptcy, and a system of production for use in process of growth, providing security and plenty for all. I used to say to our audiences: ‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!’

      I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked, p. 109

    12. Gareth

      The Peace Corps, in the sixties at least, was a useful front for CIA counter-insurgency and propaganda programs.

      A friend, who had been in the Peace Corps in Latin America in the mid-sixties, was stationed in a fairly remote region, populated by indigenous peoples. Part of his job was to compile a comprehensive list of leaders and other influential people in the various villages. He believed he was doing anthropological research. Six years after returning to the U.S. he traveled back to that region to see how things were progressing, only to discover that most of the people he had reported on were dead or had disappeared. Even some of the villages were gone.

      Another friend serving in Africa at roughly the same time, was instructed to do similar research, but his suspicions had already been raised by the obviously pro-imperialist history lessons he was supposed to teach children. Upon receiving his monthy packet from headquarters, he would simply throw it into the camp fire unopened.

      In my opinion, many of the Peace Corps volunteers of that time performed the same function as the Christian missionaries of an earlier imperialist era.

      1. Susan the other

        The Peace Corps, AID, etc. It all formed a shadow government at the higher levels. Charles Murray’s propaganda is like a cereal box decoder. It tells you exactly what the real agenda is/was/is.

      2. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Gareth, that bastion of CIA literary respectability, *The Paris Review* now lives in infamy, although it ain’t dead yet.

    13. Stephen Zielinski

      This article ought to be read along with Pilkington’s The Origins of Neoliberalism series.

      I’ve suspected for a long time that much of the elite in the United States wants a social system like that that Chile had under Pinochet — an authoritarian liberal society. It’s clear that oligarchs like Schaife and the Koch brothers want such a system. And opportunist politicians will always support whatever path exists which ends with their becoming rich and powerful. Our leaders are little more than a congery of vicious fools.

    14. Yonatan

      Evidence suggests Neanderthal brains were larger than those of Homo sapiens. That didn’t seem to prevent them going (or being driven?) extinct whereas Homo sapiens has survived.

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          Maybe. Is it also possible that they were not as vicious, as ruthless as were these Natural Born Killers?

    15. craazyman

      Word Clowns

      I made the mistake once in college of getting stoned out of my mind on bong hits before going to a Plato seminar given by my teacher, who was a Plato scholar.

      I remember looking around the room — a small classroom with wooden chairs, in one of which I sat — watching these men arguing in serious impassioned tones about aspects of one of Plato’s dialogues. Some set of paragraphs, taken apart and parsed idea by idea like a math equation.

      It wasn’t that I was too stoned to follow what they were saying. It was just that it seemed to my stoned mind so hilariously pointless, such a riot of confused and wandering words, that their un-selfconscious seriousness evoked the dialectically opposite image of a group of clowns throwing food at each other.

      At that point I began to get the giggles. This was bad. This was my professor and his philosophy department colleagues and I was the only student in the room. I was stoned out my mind and I was about to erupt in a fit of marijuana induced body shaking laughter. I had no idea what would have happened next. So I cleared my throat a few times and coughed to camouflage the contractions of my stomach muscles and hopefully somehow stop myself. That bought about 15 seconds of time. Somehow I focused on making the clowns stop and go away, coordinated with a few sets of throat clearing barks, and kept a politely sober staring face fixed on speaker after speaker. Well, I never made that mistake again.

      I get the same feeling of encroaching hilarity reading this sort of stuff, and the economics stuff, all the political stuff, it all comes like a circus of clowns and words thrown like food the way monkeys do. Diabolical clowns mad with a furious intent bent upon some purpose that seems so absurd, confused, pointless and blind beyond a narrow and relentless self-referential consistency that describes nothing of value or of reality.

      And it goes crack me up, even sober. It really does, nearly ever time. But I also realize it’s real and that there are consequences that come from the words. I’m not sure what or how to think about that, but it doesn’t make me laugh.

    16. LeonovaBalletRusse

      //“It’s a trade-off: More brain or more penis.”//

      The vanity of these Global Reich twerps is staggering, and exceeds even their ignorance. This is Rockefeller+Nazi Eugenics thought to perfection. How pathetic these “superior” psychopaths are. And just because they’re not well-hung?

    17. Howard Beale IV

      A lot of these so-called scholars are no better than what Tom Lehrer said about Wenrer Von Braun:

      “Once the rockets go up who knows where they came down, sheesh, that’s not my department” says Werner von Braun.

    18. pond

      There is a problem with the HTML coding of the links at one point. Look under the bullet item beginning with, “To promote Losing Ground”. Viewing the source of the page reveals the missing sentences.

      Wonderful details by the way. Loved reading this history.

    19. J D

      Do readers here think this set of smears and misrepresentations actually constitutes a summation of Murray’s work? To answer an earlier comment, the reason liberals and their publications take Murray seriously (despite disagreement) is that he is excellent, , and because they are not crank ideologues.

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