Thursday, August 16, 2018

Charles Lane, Richard Lynn and the tainted sources of The Bell Curve

Earlier in this evo-psycho bros series I quoted Charles Lane's 1994 review of "The Bell Curve" but I failed to discuss before now the interesting exchange of letters in the New York Review of Books where Lane's review appeared.

The first letter is from Richard Lynn, who I've mentioned a few times in this series and who is still alive:
Lane’s second criticism of my work is that some of it has been published in the journal Mankind Quarterly, which he alleges has a “white chauvinist agenda.” If this were true, the journal would surely have refused to publish my work showing that Orientals have higher IQs than whites. The fact that the journal did publish this work shows the absurdity of Lane’s charge. 
Furthermore, of my 25 papers cited in The Bell Curve, only 3 have been published in Mankind Quarterly. To reject the whole corpus of my work on these trivial grounds reveals Lane as a bigoted ideologue rather than a serious scholar.
To which Lane replies:
As for Professor Lynn’s description of the Mankind Quarterly, of which he has been a contributor and editor for over two decades—including the period when the journal was directly controlled by the outspoken Scottish white supremacist Robert Gayre—it is laughable. I didn’t try to discredit his “whole corpus” of work based on this association. Rather, I made a critique of specific points based on my reading of the evidence. In this connection, it is noteworthy that Professor Lynn does not attempt to defend his spurious claim that the average IQ of black Africans is only 70—a refutation of which occupied a considerable part of my article.

I will not comment on the balance of the review except to note that it seems about the same quality as the foregoing. Charles Murray has appropriately called this book review “McCarthyism” (Wall Street Journal, December 2, 1994). 
Harry F. Weyher
The Pioneer Fund
New York City

Lane's response was in part:
Still, if Mr. Weyher is suggesting the Pioneer Fund has never opposed racial integration he is being disingenuous. He was personally recruited by Wickliffe Draper to help the Pioneer Fund at a time when Mr. Draper was preparing to wage scientific battle against the Brown v. Board of Education decision. Later in that same decade, the Fund financed spurious research into chemical means of separating white donors’ blood from that of blacks’ in blood banks. This year, Mr. Weyher, who now operates the Fund more or less single-handedly, said in an interview with GQ: “That decision [Brown] was supposed to integrate the schools and everybody said we’d mix ’em up and the blacks’ scores would come up. But of course they never did. All Brown did was wreck the school system.”6 
The same article’s author wrote that “the fund’s hereditarianism forms a kind of dogma that leads it to venture well away from strictly scientific topics to shape the larger debate over policy implications. Weyher freely admits that he would like to eliminate what he calls “Head Start-type” programs. But, to judge by the grants that it has made, the fund’s administrators are also interested in limiting immigration, stopping busing, reversing integration, and ending affirmative action.”7
The hostility towards helping poor children is a common theme of the hereditarians, and in an interesting piece in April of this year in Vox, Matt Yglesias writes:
The actual conclusion of The Bell Curve is that America should stop trying to improve poor kids’ material living standards because doing so encourages poor, low-IQ women to have more children — you read that correctly. It also concludes that the United States should substantially curtail immigration from Latin America and Africa. These are controversial policy recommendations, not banal observations about psychometrics.
Murray’s critics are frequently accused of mischaracterizing him, so I want to quote, at length, what he says the upshot of this is (emphasis in the original):
We are silent partly because we are as apprehensive as most other people about what might happen when a government decides to social-engineer who has babies and who doesn’t. We can imagine no recommendation for using the government to manipulate fertility that does not have dangers. But this highlights the problem: The United States already has policies that inadvertently social-engineer who has babies, and it is encouraging the wrong women. If the United States did as much to encourage high-IQ women to have babies as it now does to encourage low-IQ women, it would rightly be described as engaging in aggressive manipulation of fertility. The technically precise description of America’s fertility policy is that it subsidizes births among poor women, who are also disproportionately at the low end of the intelligence distribution. We urge generally that these policies, represented by the extensive network of cash and services for low-income women who have babies, be ended. 
The government should stop subsidizing births to anyone, rich or poor. The other generic recommendation, as close to harmless as any government program we can imagine, is to make it easy for women to make good on their prior decision not to get pregnant by making available birth control mechanisms that are increasingly flexible, foolproof, inexpensive, and safe. 
The other demographic factor we discussed in Chapter 15 was immigration and the evidence that recent waves of immigrants are, on the average, less successful and probably less able, than earlier waves. There is no reason to assume that the hazards associated with low cognitive ability in America are somehow circumvented by having been born abroad or having parents or grandparents who were. An immigrant population with low cognitive ability will — again, on the average — have trouble not only in finding good work but have trouble in school, at home, and with the law.
These claims about the baleful impact of social assistance spending are not uncontroversial claims about science. Indeed, they are not claims about science at all. And since they constitute what Murray himself views as the upshot of his book, and because Murray is a policy writer rather than a scientist, it is correct and proper for fair-minded people to read the book for what it actually is: a tract proposing the comprehensive revision of the American welfare state along eugenicist lines.
Steven Pinker has steadfastly refused to admit to agreement with the Bell Curve's assessment of African Americans, while at the same time suggesting that Bell Curve's critics are unfair. We see him doing the same thing with Richard Lynn, which I will get to next.

Steven Pinker, defending "The Bell Curve" by linking to an article in Quillette, written by
admitted proponents of "human biodiversity" which defends statements about race and intelligence in "The Bell Curve" by stating: 
Perhaps the strongest evidence is simply that there are, as yet, no good alternative explanations." One of the authors thanks Pinker for his support.