The Bell Curve

Like several of Murray’s other books, including Losing Ground, In Our Hands, and Coming Apart, the basic subject of The Bell Curve is what should be done to help the disadvantaged in America. And the four books all reach the conclusion that, roughly speaking, we should do as little as is politically possible. The book presents a disturbing and highly pessimistic view of trends in American society. The United States, according to the authors, is rapidly becoming a caste society stratified by IQ, with an underclass mired at the bottom, an elite firmly ensconced at the top, and only a limited scope for public policy to boost the disadvantaged. But the bulk of the attention and controversy that swirled around the book focused not on its sweeping vision of what is happening to U.S. society, but on the authors’ application of their theories about IQ to the question of race.