Researchers Refute the Bell Curve

General Testing

Inequality by Design: Cracking the Bell Curve Myth by six members of the University of California, Berkeley, Department of Sociology does precisely what its title promises. Through a reanalysis of the data set used in the infamous Herrnstein and Murray book (see Examiner, Winter 1994-95), the authors refute the claim that inherited differences in intelligence cause inequality. Instead, they show that racial variations in achievement are the result of a society s inequality, not an unavoidable consequence of genes. With statistics from a host of sources, they make a persuasive case that the social status of an individual s birth in a highly stratified culture is the primary link to his or her future economic success. Based on this analysis, they call for a focus on policies designed to reform the rules of the game to close the widening gap between rich and poor.


Inequality by Design is available from the Princeton University Press, 41 William Street, Princeton, NJ 08540; $35.00 cloth; $14.95 paper.


Another reanalysis of Herrnstein and Murray's work, concluding that its fundamental conclusion is erroneous, appears in the peer-reviewed electronic journal Education Policy Analysis Archives. Haggai Kupermintz of Stanford University takes up a challenge from the Bell Curve coauthor Charles Murray to [c]reate some other scales and use some other method of combining them to determine if cognitive ability has an effect independent from family social economic status (SES). Adjusting for an individual s own years of education, Kupermintz finds IQ is no longer dominant and that SES has a crucial role. He concludes, Attempts to disentangle the independent effects of cognitive ability and harsh environment are doomed, not because of technical complications, but because American social reality is less than generous toward its weakest citizens.


A copy may be found on the internet at