Truth – Curse of the Woking Classes
Ed Dutton on Murray’s accomplishments
Human Diversity: The Biology of Gender, Class, and Race, Charles Murray, New York: Twelve, 2020, reviewed by Dr Edward Dutton
When writing Human Diversity, Charles Murray found himself in an invidious position. His followers were eagerly anticipating a work of outstanding insight, immense originality, and incredible intellectual bravery, along the lines of The Bell Curve or Human Accomplishment. But, at the same time, Murray wants to make a significant contribution to, as he puts it, “the most incendiary topics in academia”: racial differences, gender differences, and also social class differences. So, pleasing his followers is not so easy.
Murray wishes to challenge the fanatical and empirically inaccurate yet prevalent view among blow hard, leftist academics that “race is a social construct,” gender is substantially a “social construct,” and social class differences are entirely a product of cultural factors, such as nepotism. The problem is that anti-science ideologues are so influential that they likely work for most major publishing houses, including for the one which has given us this book. And even if they don’t, they have the political power to do serious financial damage to publishers who are courageous enough to put out books which demolish their latter-day religious worldview.
Furthermore, Murray himself is a just-about-Establishment academic, whose niche involves creating cracks in the Postmodern Echo Chamber while still being “respected” by an elite which must pay lip service to Postmodernism. He has carefully positioned himself on the border between respectable and radical (“radical” is going where the evidence takes you).
The way Murray strikes this balance is to engage in what I term “Bravery Signalling.” You present yourself as a controversialist, utterly unafraid of the postmodern mob, and, in so doing, you slightly enflame that mob, making you appear brave and interesting. You wax lyrical about how “I’m at a point in my career where I’m immune to many of penalties that a younger scholar would risk,” (p.17) such as losing their job or facing ostracism at work. But you ultimately hold your fire when it comes to the most incendiary, yet empirically accurate, scientific research, the “monsters in the closet” (p.16) of the kind that would have you labelled, in Murray’s words, “eccentric at best . . . a terrible human being at worst” (p.15). This allows you to write things like: “The differences among human groups are interesting, not scary or earth shaking” (p.11). And this permits you to remain part of the “Establishment,” to continue to receive invites to smart dinner parties, while at the same time gaining a less than fully deserved reputation as a “Defender of the Truth” against the anti-Science Woking Classes that now infest academia and the Establishment.
Human Diversity is a manifestation of these pressures under which Murray labours. It is a compromise. It is an act of “Bravery Signalling.” And, therefore, for many readers, it will be a disappointing experience. It should be said that Human Diversity reads beautifully. As we would expect of Charles Murray, it is extremely well-written, permitting the pages to flow by. The mass of information it gives you is, as usual, presented in well-explained and easily digestible chunks. It is aimed at the scientific layman, so the author is at pains to carefully elucidate the assorted scientific and mathematical concepts which the reader needs in order to get his head around the book’s argument.
Murray’s thesis is one that many academics express to him privately, because they dare not do so in public, due to pressure from their colleagues. It is that there are evolved sex differences in personality and cognition, reflected in sex differences in life outcomes. There are evolved, genetic race differences, including in cognition, which also help to explain assorted real life outcomes. And there are social class differences because there are differences in intelligence and these are partly genetic and strongly heritable. Along the way, Murray also provides us with a useful reference work on the extent of sex, race, and even class differences in all manner of pathologies. For example, he neatly sets out the sex differences in everything from autism to anorexia. He provides us with hard data for stereotypes such as females tending to ruminate more, males being better at finding the way, and males being better able to focus on minor detail. I learnt many new things, such as that females have a more acute sense of touch.
So far, so insightful . . . and seemingly so brave. Readers who are not familiar with the research on these topics will come away concluding that Human Diversity is an heroic piece of work. But this is an illusion. Murray concludes that there are no sex differences in intelligence – a conclusion he comes to by appealing to authorities who are either leftist or out-of-date – and that, if there are, they are “trivial.” Murray completely ignores the most recent research, which indicates that there is a difference of a third of a standard deviation between adult males and adult females, as discussed by Richard Lynn in a series of studies [see Sex Differences in Intelligence, by Richard Lynn, Mankind Quarterly, 2017].
Murray does consider race differences in IQ. However, he overlooks the cutting edge research by Italian anthropologist Davide Piffer, who has found that these are on general intelligence (the most genetic aspect of IQ) and that race differences in IQ correlate almost exactly with race differences in the prevalence of alleles associated with high IQ [Correlation between PGS and environmental variables, By Davide Piffer, RPubs, 2018]. Incredibly, he also ignores the body of research on race differences in Life History Strategy – first presented by J. Philippe Rushton (1943-2012) in his epochal book Race, Evolution, and Behavior.
Race differences in Life History Strategy (whether you are adapted to an unpredictable but plentiful ecology at one extreme or a predictable but harsh one at the other) are numerous and highly consistent and include race differences in personality, age at puberty, number of sex partners, age at menopause, size of secondary sexual characteristics, extent of twinning, life expectancy and much else. Murray concedes that there are race differences in the magnitude of gender differences in personality. But he fails to look at the argument that this is likely a reflection of race differences in Life History Strategy. In summary, as the ecology becomes harsher and more predictable the species’ carrying capacity is reached. Therefore, there is increasing inter-species competition, leading to a growing search for niches, leading to males and females pursuing increasingly distinct niches and becoming increasingly psychologically different.
The people doing the genuinely fearless research into race and sex differences are those associated with the London Conference on Intelligence. This was the subject of much media controversy when it was revealed, in 2018, that it had been taking place at University College London for many years, right under the noses of those who run the place [Communicating intelligence research: Media misrepresentation, the Gould Effect and unexpected forces, by Michael Woodley of Menie et al., Intelligence, 2018]. Many of the attendees have suffered serious consequences for going where the data takes them, such as being fired from their university. They include Richard Lynn, Michael Woodley of Menie, Davide Piffer, Noah Carl, Helmuth Nyborg, Heiner Rindermann, Guy Madison, Emil Kirkegaard and the author of this review [A scientometric analysis of controversies in the field of intelligence research, by Michael Woodley of Menie & Noah Carl, Intelligence, 2019]. The only one of these who is cited is Richard Lynn – on sex differences in IQ – and, even then, his most recent research, refuting his critics [Sex Differences in Intelligence, By Richard Lynn, Mankind Quarterly, 2017] is not referred to.
If I was feeling charitable, I would suggest that Murray is playing a political game, that this book is a means by which he can move public discourse in the direction of the empirical truth. However, he realises that if he tells his readers the full truth, then, indoctrinated as they are, they may put their fingers in their ears, so . . . gently does it. But, unquestionably, Charles Murray is a “Bravery Signaller.”
Editorial note; this is an edited version of a review that first appeared on the National Policy Institute website. NB – views expressed in articles published by QR are not thereby endorsed by the editor