Scott beat me to the notice of Charles Murray’s long interview on Conversations with Bill Kristol the other day. I had thought to highlight the same interview after thinking more about my conversation with Charles last week on the Bill Bennett radio show (you can listen to the segment with Charles here), especially on the question of why the Left is in such a dyspeptic state these days. The Left is panicking, we both agreed, because many things aren’t really going their way. Obama’s polls are in the dumps, the Democratic Party looks to be headed for another thumping in November, and looking ahead to 2016 you see . . . Hillary! You can just feel the excitement for a Hillary administration.
Another sign of liberal panic that I brought up was the revival of knee-jerk hysteria over Charles’s now 20-year old book, The Bell Curve, which everyone on the Left attacked without having read. If you have the extra time (like 90 minutes), here’s Charles appearing at Harvard not long ago to reflect on The Bell Curve 20 years later at a forum hosted by Harvey Mansfield:
Charles noted to me on the radio that the advances in neuroscience and genetics are rapidly undercutting many of the simple-minded equalitarian dogmas of the left, such that the same people who demand that we “follow the science” on climate change and some other issues are resolutely demanding that science be suppressed in other domains (especially genetically modified organisms, and sex differences).
A key example of this is the reaction to the new book by New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade, A Troublesome Inheritance, that frankly discusses the taboo subject of genetic differences between the races. The New York Times got around to reviewing the book of its own writer last weekend, and David Dobbs’s review reached the utterly predictable moment:
The result is a deeply flawed, deceptive and dangerous book. Its most pernicious conceit is that it’s finally safe to talk of racial genetics because “opposition to racism is now well entrenched.” The daily news — a black teenager’s killer walks free in Florida; a former Ku Klux Klansman shoots up a Jewish community center; and tearful survivors observe the 20th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide, in which 100 days of mass murder rose from ethnic distinctions pressed on the populace by European colonists a century before — says otherwise.
The reasoning of this paragraph could be used as an example of the non sequitur in a community college logic class. A dangerous book! Can’t have that. But this nothing compared to Scientific American, where a favorable notice of the book by blogger Ashutosh Jogalekar appeared, with this conclusion:
Overall I found this book extremely well-researched, thoughtfully written and objectively argued. Wade draws on several sources, including the peer reviewed literature and work by other thinkers and scientists. The many researchers whose work Wade cites makes the writing authoritative; on the other hand, where speculation is warranted or noted he usually explicitly points it out as such. Some of these speculations such as the effects of genetics on the behavior of entire societies are quite far flung but I don’t see any reason why, based on what we do know about the spread of genes among groups, they should be dismissed out of hand. At the very least they serve as reasonable hypotheses to be pondered, thrashed out and tested. Science is about ideas, not answers.
Obviously you can’t say this, and Scientific American rushed to disassociate itself with Jogalekar’s piece, and has since fired him for a subsequent piece discussing the sexism of legendary physicist Richard Feynman. SciAm not only fired him, but attempted to scrub the offending piece from their site.
This is the face of “liberal tolerance” when it is panicking like a cornered animal.