The Evil That Men Do

Charles Murray is pimping a new book, alas. TBogg and Roy have already taken a couple of whacks at the most risible bits of his latest attempt to promote the natural order of things.

It’s hard to see this one making much of a splash, outside the usual quarters.  In it, Murray looks specifically at pale America, and he argues that white folks here divide along class lines. That’s a phenomenon he sees separating the effete, smart, rich folks living in enclaves unclear on the concept of real Amerigeist (See! Ha! You knew I was one of those, didn’t you!), and the Nascar loving, not-so-smart, Applebee eating (truly — see the two posts linked above), meth sucking (I made that up) folks who don’t have passports that let them into Prospect Park or SoMa.

Leaving aside that David Brooks already botched this one, albeit in more facile prose, Murray’s key move is to declare that whatever else may construct class in America, it ain’t income, or more precisely, income inequality.

Which is of course what this always outcome-oriented writer needs to say.

His public-intellectual career, vapid though it may seem anywhere actual rigor is demanded,* turns on finding some kind of essentialist reason to preserve current social hierarchies and racial privilege. Here, abandoning a genetic tack, he can be seen to perform one of David Brooks patented’ double backflips, to land on what he claims are deeply rooted differences in culture.

The cleverness there is that such arguments evoke the kinds of responses most likely to be palatable to his and our overlords.  Or, in the words of one reviewer — a more famous man than Murray, yet equally certain of assumptions not in evidence — the authoritative prescription for the Republic runs like this:

What the country needs is not an even larger federal government but a kind of civic Great Awakening–a return to the republic’s original foundations of family, vocation, community, and faith.

That’s from Niall Ferguson, whose review captures the bad faith that runs through Murray’s enterprise — really, one of the original that runs through the whole right-wing culturedammerung.Usefully, Ferguson’s gloss on Murray’s prose strips it down to the essential poverty of its argument.

That is: it may gratify our Galtian masters to be told that just a bit more church and keeping one’s privates in their proper place is all that is needed to render the US governable by the governing class.  But no one committed to actually studying society as it lives on the ground of contemporary America could argue that “community” for example is simply a unitary value to be trotted out at as needed.  The word is as vulnerable as are the real people involved to such realities as 8+% unemployment, gutted town and school budgets and so on — the actual material framework of community in which families, you know, live.  I’ll grant you lots of factors at play, but cash is definitely a huge one, despite Ferguson’s ritual endorsement of Murray’s claim:

Murray is dismissive of the standard liberal prescription of higher taxes on the rich and higher spending on the poor.

Sorry, folks.  It’s simply hard to construct community when you can’t keep street lights on.**

Yet more egregiously, see what’s missing in Ferguson’s deft opposition:  the middle class, for whom as much as for the poor it kind of matters to be able to drive to work on streets without sinkholes, depend on cops on the beat, find a book or two in the library and so on.

More deeply, if I took Ferguson seriously as a public writer at this point in the diminishment of his intellectual career (as opposed to the upper-middle-brow blockblusterer role he’s embraced with equal gusto and skill), I’d go into a bit more detail about the shocking ahistoricity on display.

Just to give the merest hint of what’s missing — only one, small example out of a universe of them — a historian actually interested in the practice of the craft might stop to think about what happens to community when the average radius of daily travel changes by orders of magnitude in the time lapsed from when John Adams strode his Quincy farm.  Or what the change in the cost and capacity of medicine to intervene in illness and dying from that day to this might do to the way families act, or how we parse the roles of government vs. individual autonomy and responsibility.

To restate the point my father spent a professional life thinking about:  it’s not just what is said that matters, the bare words someone might utter about liberty, for example, or about the exceptionalism of the American experiment.   The “when” is key, the particular context of thought and historical moment.  You have to ask to what other ideas, emotions, social facts those words speak each time you hear them.  The concept of American exceptionalism in 1783 had a specific sharp tang: George Washington was to be our President, not our king.

Now?  The meaning and feeling of that same language has shifted enormously.

And so it is with Murray’s and Ferguson’s constructed nostalgia.  I’ve learned not to psychoanalyze at a distance, so I won’t speculate on what it is about the pleasures of contrarianism that seems not just to capture clever young folks like Ferguson (and his Oxford undergraduate friend, Andrew Sullivan) — but to freeze them for a very long time.  As John Rogers pointed out long ago, some escape such youthful folly, and some don’t.

But none of this is what truly gets my goat here.  Rather,  it’s this:

Quite unjustly, that book [The Bell Curve] was anathematized as “racist” because it pointed out that, on average, African-Americans had lower IQ scores than white Americans.

I understand  on a technical level why Ferguson might feel compelled to write this.  The Bell Curve is Murray’s claim to authority as an observer of America.  If it falls, the residue of Murray’s intellectual capital evaporates as well.  Unfortunately, The Bell Curve is one of the most thoroughly eviscerated books in recent memory. (See Cosma Shalizi’s take down of the whole race-IQ-outcomes for just one, very sharp example.)

In that context, Ferguson does what he has to do in quite cleverly sliding by what Murray and his co-author Richard J. Herrnstein were actually on about.  The root claim in their book wasn’t a statement about the raw results of certain tests; rather, it was what such scores mean — their claim that the numbers they selected revealed something both real and relevant to social outcomes.

This is what anathematized the book.  Not that it said that African-Americans scored as they did on a particular test, but that it claimed, in the teeth of much evidence, that such data captures an essential quality of African-American mental capacity that has real world consequences.  There are facts and there are interpretations, and while there were problems with both in the Murray/Herrnstein account, this assertion of meaning was what mattered.

Which meas that you don’t have to go to all the finer grained methodological critique of Murray and Herrnstein — their use of what are essentially achievement tests as proxies for IQ tests, for just one of many available examples — to see how Ferguson is playing an old trick here.  If you can’t deal with the argument your antagonists actually made, then…What the hell! Run up a straw man, something the other guys didn’t say…and put both boots in.

The hollowness thus implied would be sad — tragic, really — if what Ferguson actually wrote weren’t so bloody corrosive. It’s 2012, goddamn it.  Someday soon — as in many yesterdays ago — we’ve got to get past these quasi-scientific glosses on what is the same damn justification slave-owners offered for holding some people as property: that those slaves were in irreducibly essential ways less than their white masters.

Ferguson here sets that day back once more.

For shame.

*I.e., not The Daily Dish

**Old story, I know, but still a good one.

Images:  Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Two Acrobats, 1932-33.

Titian, Charles V With Dog, 1532-33.






96 replies
  1. 1
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    That’s a phenomenon he sees separating the effete, smart, rich folks living in enclaves unclear on the concept of real Amerigeist (See! Ha! You knew I was one of those, didn’t you!), and the Nascar loving, not-so-smart, Applebee eating (truly—see the two posts linked above), meth sucking (I made that up) folks who don’t have passports that let them into Prospect Park or SoMa.

    Le Poujadisme Amermican-style?

  2. 2
    Hungry Joe says:

    I with with you right up to “For shame.” Clearly, these people have none. (Dr. Venkman put it better: “This man has no dick.”)

  3. 3
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Where is my edit opportunity? Did I miss it? Ack!

  4. 4
    kdaug says:

    constructed nostalgia

    This.

  5. 5
    MildlyAmusedRainbowPerson says:

    Somewhere in the misty woods of Real Conservatism there rises the soft, snuffling noise of Andrew Sullivan blindly rootling around for the delicious acorns of scientific racism yet again.

  6. 6
    greennotGreen says:

    I kept expecting the Niall Ferguson review to be snark, but there was no punch line or…point. I’m sorry, but since my first degree was in sociology and I read the quiz in the latest Murray embarrassment, I have grave doubts about the balance of the book. If you can’t design a simple quiz that has any sort of relevance based on the answers, you really should be in a different line of work.

  7. 7
    JGabriel says:

    One of the clear signs of a great post coming up is when you see “Tom Levenson” at the top and “Read the rest of this post »” at the bottom.

    .

  8. 8
    MildlyAmusedRainbowPerson says:

    @greennotGreen:

    Relevance, sir? The man is a conservative! He’s been avoiding relevance since 1865!

  9. 9
    YoohooCthulhu says:

    Everyone might be interested in this (very weird) article in the Telegraph touting Murray’s newest book; it’s sort of a weird conservative attempt to coopt the economic inequality issue as an intelligence/inbreeding one:

    “cognitive elite”, has developed an hereditary stranglehold over the top professions and management positions. The brightest people tend to marry each other, then ensure that their offspring get to the best schools and universities

  10. 10
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @greennotGreen: That quiz is simply stupid. “Did you letter in a sport in high school?” WTF?

  11. 11
    Nutella says:

    I like how Alicublog introduces this:

    Charles Murray, best known for his book Niggers are Stupid (sorry, The Bell Curve), has a new one out called Kinder, Küche, Kirche 2.0 (sorry, Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010).

    P.S. Just finished and really enjoyed Newton and the Counterfeiter.

  12. 12
    Egg Berry says:

    Niall Ferguson is a public intellectual for the same reason Sullivan is – british accent.

  13. 13
    very reverend crimson fire of compassion says:

    What we are seeing, in the renewed awareness of the significance of economic inequality, is the gradual awakening of the white masses to the fact that they were duped in the Chesapeake colonies, where the promise of economic gain in return for betraying the browns was first hammered out. Over and over, ethnic minorities that could pass for white in this country have acted on the understanding that, if they just played along with the overclass, they too would get to be white, and thus privileged. The ancient lie that has been the social compact of American life for most of its history is coming unraveled, as “lower-class” white folks, the descendents of Irish, Scots, Italians, etc., begin to realize that they are as disposable to their betters as the browns.

  14. 14
    NobodySpecial says:

    Charles Murray is pimping a new book, alas.

    Sounds racist…

  15. 15
    MildlyAmusedRainbowPerson says:

    @YoohooCthulhu:

    “Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance?”

    The intellectual life of the modern conservative is one long attempt to make this proposition anything but laughable.

  16. 16
    Hungry Joe says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Where is my edit opportunity? Did I miss it? Ack!

    Likewise. I meant, “I was with you right up to … ” Water, bridge, etc.

  17. 17
    JGabriel says:

    Tom Levenson @ Top:

    More deeply, if I took Ferguson seriously as a public writer at this point in the diminishment of his intellectual career (as opposed to the upper-middle-brow blockblusterer role he’s embraced with equal gusto and skill)…

    I think it’s probably safe and accurate at this point in the diminishment of Ferguson’s career to drop the “upper”.

    .

  18. 18
    HumboldtBlue says:

    That’s all well and good Mr. Smarty-smart-science-writer guy, but have you ever discovered a molecule? Well, have ya? I bet you haven’t, and not even when you were 10 years old.

  19. 19
    MildlyAmusedRainbowPerson says:

    A brief shout-out to another distinguished conservative intellectual:

    “The president is saying that people can’t afford to go to college anymore, and that just simply is not true,” said Representative Virginia Foxx, the North Carolina Republican who is chairwoman of the House Higher Education subcommittee. “Tuition is too high at most schools, but it isn’t the job of the federal government to punish those schools. It’s very arbitrary, and the president sounds like a dictator.”

    When Virginia Foxx is anywhere near to having power over educational issues, you know we have a serious problem in this country.

  20. 20

    @MildlyAmusedRainbowPerson: It’s the juxtaposition of these two parts of her statement that get me:

    “The president is saying that people can’t afford to go to college anymore, and that just simply is not true . . .”

    and

    “Tuition is too high at most schools . . .

  21. 21
    Linnaeus says:

    @Egg Berry:

    Niall Ferguson is a public intellectual for the same reason Sullivan is – british accent.

    Sorry for the drift, but this reminds me of a brief story I read in Esquire written by a pseudonymous contributor named The Angry German. The Angry German pointed out that Americans often seem to think that British people are smarter than they actually are because of the way they sound (with some exceptions), which The Angry German found amusing and sometimes frustrating. He then related an anecdote in which he was in a business meeting and posed an idea, to which the others in the meeting reacted in a rather muted fashion. Approximately ten minutes later, a participant in the meeting who was British posed essentially the very same idea that The Angry German did and everyone else in the meeting lauded it as brilliant. The Angry German pointed out this apparent contradiction and the others tried to deny it.

  22. 22
    Nutella says:

    @Egg Berry:

    He’s a tall, handsome Tory with a British accent. Obviously an expert on everything!

    To illustrate what a hack he is, he wrote in Newsweek in November 2009: (via)

    This is how empires decline. It begins with a debt explosion. It ends with an inexorable reduction in the resources available for the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Which is why voters are right to worry about America’s debt crisis.

    This is a new story for Ferguson. I heard him give a speech during the Bush administration explaining to us ignorant plebes who were then complaining about Bush deficit spending how naive and ignorant we were since obviously governments must and should run deficits to pay for necessities. Silly liberals just didn’t understand government finance so he ‘splained it.

    I wonder what could be different now to account for his very different opinion on deficit spending? Could it be the party of the guy in the White House?

  23. 23
    Redshift says:

    @J. Michael Neal: Not to mention the bit about how rewarding schools that are more cost-effective with more funding (which sounds suspiciously similar to that whole free-market thing) is “punishing” schools that aren’t.

    But she is a well-known crazy person. Just not in her district, apparently.

  24. 24
    SRW1 says:

    And so it is with Murray’s and Ferguson’s constructed nostalgia. I’ve learned not to psychoanalyze at a distance, so I won’t speculate on what it is about the pleasures of contrarianism that seems not just to capture clever young folks like Ferguson (and his Oxford undergraduate friend, Andrew Sullivan)—but to freeze them for a very long time.

    Ahem, could it be something as simple as a career ‘market opportunity’? And once you catch it, that stuff is addictive.

  25. 25
    Upper West says:

    Ferguson is now the British Brooks — an appalling thought, adding the layer of an accent to insufferable pomposity, subtle racism and bogus rationalizations of economic oppression.

    Now the latest totebagger favorite, no doubt.

    Can’t somebody muzzle the guy.

  26. 26
    Slugger says:

    At other websites I got a look at the quiz that tells you if you are a real white man or one of those “elites” that don’t really deserve to be considered part of the Rassenschaft. It gives a lot of points to small town Southern origins and interests. It occured to me that Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton would get extremely high scores.

  27. 27
    Redshift says:

    The whole thing (like many conservative manifestos) is another exercise in “if we start with the presumption that the cause of a problem as indicated by all evidence is unpossible, what unmeasurable cause can we find to substitute.”

    Slightly interesting in an angels on the head of a pin sense, but signifying nothing.

  28. 28
    Joel says:

    I just wish dickbags like Niall Ferguson would just suit up and take some bullets for the cause down in Helmand.

  29. 29
    Redshift says:

    Shorter Murray: Remember how I told you that all your problems weren’t the fault of rich Republicans, but because of those brown people? Surprise, they’re actually your fault!

    I can’t imagine why that wouldn’t go over well…

  30. 30
    MildlyAmusedRainbowPerson says:

    http://lancemannion.typepad.co.....ubble.html

    Charles Murray, co-author of that foul blot on the American intellectual landscape, The Bell Curve, has a new book out. It’s called Coming Apart and apparently it’s about how the majority of Americans are ruining the county by not letting the minority who are white, middle-aged, Midwestern and Southern suburban dwelling, Right Wing, Christianist yahoos persist in thinking they own the place. Or something like that.

    You can also take Murray’s hilariously dumb quiz via Mannion’s post, if your need for shits and giggles so impels you.

  31. 31

    @Joel: If Niall Ferguson is a dickbag, does that mean that when someone tells you to eat a bag of salted dicks that they’re asking you to

    I’m sorry. I can’t complete that previous sentence.

  32. 32
    Redshift says:

    Oh, and Tom, you need to fix the link to TBogg. Otherwise people might miss this:

    UncertaintyVicePrincipal sums up the whole dignity of work conundrum:
    __

    As far as I understand it, having a proper work ethic now means working at three jobs so Mitt Romney can work at none.
    __
    I think we’ve gone from “Calvinist Work Ethic” to “Calvinball Work Ethic” in just a few decades.

  33. 33

    Having nothing to add to a well-made argument, I’ll just point out that Charles V had a codpiece worthy of Rabelais.

  34. 34
    BO_Bill says:

    To assert that IQ scores have no relevance to sociology is something a self-serving college teacher would do in a late-term democracy. Their pay is excellent, the responsibility is negligible, and the guardians of the public coffers butter the bread.

    The problem with ignoring Truth is that you cannot ignore its consequences. In our circumstance, this will include a currency failure.

  35. 35
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I scored a 73, so I’m a REAL MURRICAN, and I didn’t letter in High School. Almost none of the guys who did letter in sports served in the military.
    Yes, I’ve drank piss beer and ate poorly cooked cheap food recently. I’ve also watched mindless claptrap on television. I’m in a union, and I’ve even been to a meeting. I’m not certain how any of that, or any of the other stuff for which I qualify as a real murrican in Chuckie’s fucked up thought experiment makes me better than anyone else in any way. But that’s probably because I’m too uneducated and too culturally lower class to figure it out. People like Chuckie Murray need to be punched in the junk. Repeatedly. And they need it because they are like Chuckie Murray.

  36. 36
    Woodrowfan says:

    @MildlyAmusedRainbowPerson:
    If I remember right, she used to be President of a college somewhere, a CC I think. That’s a scary thought. I bet they loved her there (eye roll).

  37. 37
    BO_Bill says:

    testing

  38. 38
    Bloix says:

    “I won’t speculate on what it is about the pleasures of contrarianism that seems not just to capture clever young folks like Ferguson (and his Oxford undergraduate friend, Andrew Sullivan)”

    Have you seen The History Boys?

  39. 39
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Woodrowfan: And she’s got Louie Gohmert eyes, too.

  40. 40
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Soonergrunt: On the beer question, of course, I often have standard American beer in the ‘fridge. I also often have foreign beer and micro-brews. I drink blended and single malt scotch (not together). I like burgers and haute cuisine. These things are true of most of the people he is trying to bash.

  41. 41
    IM says:

    @Nutella:

    I thought of: Travail, Famille, Patrie

  42. 42
    Cap'n Swag says:

    @Redshift:

    That’s outstanding.

  43. 43
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @IM: Vichy? Oui?

  44. 44
    MildlyAmusedRainbowPerson says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I’d love to know what Mitt Romney or George H.W. Bush would score on that test – not to mention Andrew Sullivan!

  45. 45
    Scott says:

    @MildlyAmusedRainbowPerson: That’s a quote from Sen. Roman Hruska (R-Neb) back in the early seventies. I remember how dumb it was then. I guess I was separated from the real america even as teenager.

  46. 46
    Woodrowfan says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    And she’s got Louie Gohmert eyes, too.

    Ugh, my least favorite lost hit of the’80s.

  47. 47
    IM says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Yes. And interesting because it is an conscious attempt to create a conservative answer to: Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.

  48. 48
    WereBear says:

    @MildlyAmusedRainbowPerson: Hmmm, I took the quiz at the link and got 17 out of 20.

    There goes my intellectual ambitions!

  49. 49
    RSA says:

    The funny thing, to me, is that I could see a book like this being important. But not as written by Charles Murray. I only browsed through the introduction and quiz online, and as dumb as the quiz was (maybe I don’t do or like some things because they’re not very good), it was at least a bit thought-provoking, in a Nickel and Dimed sense. I can only imagine Murray’s prescriptions are going to be a lot different from Ehrenreich’s (for example), though.

  50. 50

    @Soonergrunt:
    The idea is to distract class warfare with cultural warfare, to draw the boundaries of ‘Us vs. Them’ in a way that combines wealthy out of touch elites with the plebians they are cruelly exploiting against anyone who’s recognized the exploitation.

    I hate explanations like that, but what other way is there to read this?

  51. 51
    Cap'n Swag says:

    I got a 68. Is that pretty Murkin?

  52. 52
    dogwood says:

    Here’s all you need to know about Charles Murray:

    Question: What do you think of Sarah Palin?
    Murray: I’m in love. Truly and deeply in love.

  53. 53
    Anoniminous says:

    From the WaPo Link:

    Why, for the past 500 years, have Europe and the United States dominated everyone else?

    Because Europe, and later the US, acquired the military technology (bronze cannon on lateen rigged sailing ships, black powder muskets, and the techniques to maximize their use) to dominate and then kept developing the military technology while using the technology to keep anybody else from acquiring same while paying for continuing development of military technology by Stealing Their Stuff.

  54. 54
    Scott says:

    @Soonergrunt: The irony is that Murray has it completely backward. The majority of people live in urban areas, do not work in factories, are white collar, etc. The real bubble people are the rural poor and the federal policies (rural electrification, roads and bridges, communications, etc) since the 30s have been effective to bring them into the larger American culture.

  55. 55
    Brian R. says:

    I got a 57. Good but not great, according to the Glorious Real American Scale of Patriotic Correctness.

    Does that mean I’m Canadian or something?

  56. 56
    WereBear says:

    @Scott: He doesn’t have it backward if his goal is to convince the blue collar worker who needs a union to ditch all that for spurious self esteem as Real Amurricans. And vote against their best interests by identifying with Republicans.

  57. 57
    bemused says:

    Murray suggests that upper tier folks should do their civic duty, not choose to live in Belmont comfort zones but in Fishtown neighborhoods where they should get involved in the communities and lead by their examples (strong marriages, families, work ethics) the culturally deficient lower tiers and not be shy about judgmental lecturing either.
    Murray’s brainstorm would probably play out like this: Wealthy folks in large numbers have moved to the suburbs of Raleigh, NC but didn’t much like the diversification policy of Wake County school district. They didn’t want their kids going to schools in ‘other’ neighborhoods and soon took over the school board to change that policy. Murray would probably approve of their style of civic duty.
    Murray doesn’t think it is at all important to find out how and why the “new lower class” got started but, never mind, writes a book loaded with judgmental horse shit and laughable “solutions”. The quiz was so stupid, it was funny.

  58. 58
    Anoniminous says:

    @BO_Bill:

    Since you are so knowledgeable you should be able to answer this question off the top of your head: what is the most predictive factor for a child’s scholastic success?

  59. 59
    Scott says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I pissed that I didn’t get extra points for buying cheap beer in 16 oz cans.

  60. 60
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    a return to the republic’s original foundations of family, vocation, community, and faith.

    That high pitched whirring you’re hearing right now? Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, and other Founders rotating at high speeds in their graves.

  61. 61
    Commenting at Ballon Juice since 1937 says:

    Roy has a link to a quiz embedded in the book. As expected, its stupid and irrelevant. I fail mostly because it has a lot of questions about my friends, which I have few of.

  62. 62
    Commenting at Ballon Juice since 1937 says:

    @Anoniminous: plus domesticated animals helped yur-peons to be more immune to horrible diseases that they then spread around the world.

  63. 63
    BO_Bill says:

    If the ‘scholastic success’ metric is gathering and processing information, it would be intellect. Now, intellect is a dynamic trait. Blacks mature faster than whites mentally as well as physically.

    So if we wanted to be dishonest, we could measure intellect between the ages of 4 and 5 in the presence of some government program, and give credit to food assistance, or hand-holding, or coloring, or whatever and proclaim a potential solution for the achievement gap (if we only had more money), and apply for some grant for some taxpayer funded morons.

    But the Truth is that SAT, IQ or other objective test outcomes is the best predictor of intellect.

  64. 64
    Jay C says:

    a return to the republic’s original foundations of family, vocation, community, and faith.

    Gee, nice taglines: I wonder who else used a formulation like this????

  65. 65
    HumboldtBlue says:

    I suggest any fumbledick who claims IQ tests are an indicator of anything other than learned knowledge take their silly asses to the jungles of Borneo for a few weeks and then tell us about intelligence quotients.

    Ignorance may be a warm blanket but we’ll soon find out just how fucking innately smarter you are then those dark-skinned denizens who inhabit those islands.

  66. 66
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Scott: I got a 55. I am probably best described as first gen. upper-middle with middle class parents. The quiz told me nothing about that. Some of the questions offer no real insight. Yes, I worked in a factory; summer jobs while in school, my cousin ran the company, and his uncle (not related to me by blood) owned it. Not really the same as having a factory job. I wore a uniform, but I was an officer and joined for adventure – not the same thing as enlisting.

  67. 67
    Commenting at Ballon Juice since 1937 says:

    21. Have you ever ridden on a long-distance bus (e.g., Greyhound Trailways) or hitchhiked for a trip of fifty miles or more?

    Does the Grateful Dead at Saratoga Springs in 1984 make me full member of the Red Blooded American Club?

  68. 68
    MildlyAmusedRainbowPerson says:

    @WereBear:

    I am getting these visions of Sully and Fergie having their sous-bloggers rush out and stock newly purchased fridges with crappy Coors beer in case Charles Murray stops by to check out their countertops.

  69. 69
    BO_Bill says:

    IQ is largely unaffected by education HumboldtBlue. It is a human trait, similar to eye-color, and is roughly correlated to the weight of the brain.

    The reason the natives of Borneo thrive in the environment of Borneo is because they evolved to survive in the environment of Borneo. We call this ‘evolution’. I would not expect these people to do well with calculus however, as it was the Greeks who developed and celebrated philosophy, not the Borneoians. This Logically led to the discovery of metals, and then gunpowder.

  70. 70
    Scott says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I didn’t add up my score but it was clear to me that I had an advantage because I’m 57 and have lived and done a lot of things, including 20 years in the military, fishing, NASCAR, pickup trucks, working in factories as well as offices, etc. I also been to a lot of major cities, been to museums and concerts, had (and have) a wide variety of friends, and drank more than my share of beer (cheap and otherwise) as well as wine (cheap and otherwise). There are a lot of different groups of people in this country and this constant attempt to divide and demonize is un-American. I’m quite tired of these right wing radicals who hate this country.

  71. 71
    WereBear says:

    @MildlyAmusedRainbowPerson: Ha! And wearing seed corn company hats with logos.

    More than anything, what they asked summed up “working poor.”

    Drinking mass market beer, riding the bus, working in a factory, knowing NASCAR and Evangelicals; it’s exactly the people Deer Hunting with Jesus was about.

    Exactly the people the Republicans court and then step on. They’d better suck up such flattery while they can; it’s all they are ever going to get.

  72. 72
    Scott says:

    @Commenting at Ballon Juice since 1937: Who the hell hitchhikes in this day and age? That pretty much ended in the 70s. My brother hitchhiked to Woodstock from suburban Long Island. Is that getting out of the bubble?

  73. 73
    MikeJ says:

    @Slugger:

    It occured to me that Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton would get extremely high scores.

    Which is why when Regan and Bush the Smarter took office the village swooned over the return of glamour to the White House.

  74. 74
    Yutsano says:

    @BO_Bill: Swing and a miss. You really should drop the parody of BoB. You’re not very good at it.

  75. 75
    Tom Levenson says:

    What? 74 comments and no love for the second pic? I chose that double extra special for this commentariat!

    Edit: Or perhaps I should simply read the comments more carefully (no. 33)

  76. 76
    Mike G says:

    Shorter Murray:
    Pay no attention to economic inequality, dismal economic mobility and a political system totally gamed by corporations and the rich (please, my career depends on it); your real oppressor is the guy down the street for not liking NASCAR or Bud Light.

  77. 77
    Anoniminous says:

    @BO_Bill:

    What

    @Yutsano:

    wrote

  78. 78

    @Scott:

    I pissed that I didn’t get extra points for buying cheap beer in 16 oz cans.

    Sorry, but if it’s not in 44 oz bottles, it doesn’t really count.

  79. 79
    Arundel says:

    Love the pic, Tom!

    Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler has spoken of studies showing that the test scores of African-American students are now higher than those of white students in 1990. (Don’t have a link right now.) He wonders why our liberal media never cites this as they give endless play to “reformers” who want to privatize “our failing schools”. It’s remarkably good news, and rather belies Murray’s thesis.

  80. 80
    Kyle says:

    The sponsors of Murray’s career want the predictable, reliable workforce and consumers of a majority-middle-class society without the bother of providing middle-class economic opportunities.

  81. 81

    @Arundel:

    It’s remarkably good news, and rather belies Murray’s thesis.

    I think this the explanation for why it doesn’t get more press. We can’t have anyone contradicting the message of doom and gloom, especially if it would interfere with an attempt to privatize a functioning part of government.

  82. 82

    it occurs to me, that what one sees regardless of what one attributes it to, in a separation amongst whites by class, is a lack of opportunity for upward social mobility.

    if lower middle class and middle class whites are carving out cultural identities over multiple generations, its because they have nothing else to do. if even successful people from lower middle class and middle class roots are called upon to assert their roots, even as they themselves are exceptions, i think it says that most people aren’t and never will be, so they are making the most of advancing who they are.

  83. 83
    Peter A says:

    @HumboldtBlue: If your kids were raised from infancy in Borneo, they would probably not do as well as the average child born to the indigenous population. And if you raised Bornean kids from infancy in modern American, they probably won’t do as well as the average white child. You can pretend that every group of human beings has evolved exactly the same way for the last 50,000 years despite being exposed to very different external pressures or you can face reality.

  84. 84
    Sebastian Dangerfield says:

    a return to the republic’s original foundations of family, vocation, community, and faith

    Allow me to translate from the Tory:

    family = MARRY AND REPRODUCE (as long as your hetero).
    vocation = Get back to work, you laggards!
    community = Everyone knows their rightful place and has the good manners to stay there.
    faith = Approved cults only, i.e., ones that reinforce all of the above.

  85. 85
    MildlyAmusedRainbowPerson says:

    @Peter A:

    The question is whether the differences between groups are significant, and if so, in what ways and areas. So far, there’s nothing like adequate proof for the claim that they are and especially when it comes to a highly questionable measure like IQ. As for what it would mean for one child to do “better” than another, that’s also an extremely vague concept that is unlikely to advance the debate much. Better in what respect? By what measurement?

  86. 86
    HumboldtBlue says:

    Peter, fuck you you insufferable shabeen. There is no fucking thing as an intelligence quotient through heredity. Your response shows not only your ignorance of Murray’s original and execrable work laden with racist tropes, echoing the worst of late 19th-century pseudo-science and grossly misleading as to what actual intelligence is.

    If my children (thanks dog they onlt exists in imagination) had been borne and bred in Borneo they would most certainly be amazing polyglots able tocommunicate in a dozen different languages and dialects, schooled in the flora and fauna of their neighborhood, able to pick a poisoned plant from a safe one, in other words, their intelligence would reflect their surroundings and their community.

    Murray is a racist fool, trotting out grossly distorted genetics to spuriously claim his conclusion that black men are less intelligent than white men are founded upon scientific study. His conclusions are so full of shit they make Sullivan seem like a reasonable commentator on modern politics.

    Intelligence can no more be boiled down to a simple, parochial and discriminatory test than those, like you, can be made to be critical and questioning thinkers.

  87. 87
    Dollared says:

    @Tom Levenson: Tom, I loves me some Charles V. Somewhere in the Mediterranean Braudel quotes a letter from Carlos to some other Catholic Leader saying “this idea of Liberty is a fallacy that will die out.” And Carlos dedicated his life to teying to make sure of that, bankrupting the world’s greatest empire fighting the Dutch Civil War because if the Dutch could choose their own religion, then they could choose their own masters, and that was intolerable.

    Every time GWB spouted off about how he was undermining our democracy in order to bring “liberty” to the middle east, I thought of Carlos and that letter. Conservatives hate the idea that people are empowered and can make their own choices. They want all of us to have religious and economic masters. And Charles Murray wants to be the philosopher of the Divine Right of The 1% to Rule Absolutely. Thanks for making that connection.

  88. 88
    bemused senior says:

    @MildlyAmusedRainbowPerson:

    To assist the younger generation, the quote is from Sen. Roman Hruska with respect to a particularly egregious Supreme Court nomination.[*]

  89. 89
    robertdsc-PowerBook says:

    Funny, I think faith is what is wrong with this country.

  90. 90
    Gretchen says:

    @Anoniminous:
    The Book Guns, Germs and Steel attempts to answer this question: Did Europe dominate because it’s people are smarter and better? No, they had the advantages of more crops and large mammals to domesticate, so they could produce and store enough food that some people could opt out of food production and do things like make guns and hava a military. Calvalry dominated any army that didn’t have horses, and living close to dometic animals gave them tolerance to epidemic diseases that wiped out other peoples, like Native Americans, that they came in contact with. Tolerance to smallpox doesn’t make you smarter.

  91. 91
    Gretchen says:

    @HumboldtBlue:
    The guy who wrote Guns Germs and Steel did his fieldwork in New Guinea and writes about the encyclopedic knowledge of local plants the people there have. Once they were starving in the jungle, and one of the guys brought back mushrooms to eat. The author was afraid they were poisonous, and his hosts were insulted, and detailed the names of 27 different local mushrooms, their uses, properties, and where to find them.

  92. 92
    Gretchen says:

    @Peter A:
    Sorry to cite GG&S one more time, but he also notes that wild wolves are smarter than domestic dogs because they have to think and know a lot more to survive, and wonders whether that implies that hunter-gatherers are smarter than people whose only knowledge of how to feed themselves is the location of the grocery store.

  93. 93
    Binky the consumer bear says:

    @BO_Bill: You’re supposed to finish every one of these kinds of screeds with a full-caps “WHITE POWER!” in the manner of Clayton Bigsby, Dave Chappelle’s blind black white supremacist from his eponymous television show.
    Seriously, the rest of the crap this critter writes about IQ, evolution, etc. are either brilliant satire indistinguishable from true abject ignorance or evidence that a hundred monkeys on a hundred laptops get cranky when the tourists don’t bring cigarettes for them anymore.

  94. 94
    PQuincy says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I was amused that I got to say yes…I proudly earned three varsity letters in gymkhana (which as far as I know only one or maybe two schools in the US have as a sport).

    It felt like a nice little demonstration of how people consistently misuse surveys that might have meaning, if at all, only in an aggregate way to categorize individuals. Even more importat, the amount of time we waste collecting data on proxies that are easy to measure but that in fact are lousy proxies for anything we might actually want to measure is staggering. Measuring varsity letters is easy (even if an individual’s tally says little about that individual), but it’s a lousy proxy, even in aggregate, for any useful conclusions I can imagine about anything.

  95. 95

    […] I have so recently been reminded by our friends in the 101st Chairborne that I’m some arugula-chomping, word-chopping, bubble-bound faux-American, it happens that […]

  96. 96
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @BO_Bill:

    The reason the natives of Borneo thrive in the environment of Borneo is because they evolved to survive in the environment of Borneo. We call this ‘evolution’. I would not expect these people to do well with calculus however, as it was the Greeks who developed and celebrated philosophy, not the Borneoians. This Logically led to the discovery of metals, and then gunpowder.

    Greek philosophy logically led to the discovery of metal, which happened thousands of years before Socrates, and gunpowder, which was a Chinese invention?

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