Charles Murray: Right questions, wrong answers

Yesterday Charles Murray celebrated his 75th birthday and retired as the American Enterprise Institute’s W. H. Brady Scholar. AEI celebrated his career with an event at which Murray he looked back at his life and thought in a lecture he titled “Right Questions and Wrong Answers.”

In the lecture Murray reflected on his career from the time he spent in Thai villages in the 1960s through the writing of landmark books such as Losing Ground, In Pursuit, The Bell Curve (with Richard Herrnstein), and, most recently, Coming Apart, among several others. Murray was introduced by his AEI colleagues Ryan Streeter and Karlyn Bowman. Bowman notes in her introduction that Murray shares his birthday with Elvis. One might add that, since the death of James Q. Wilson, Murray himself may be the Elvis of public policy intellectuals.

The lecture proper begins at approximately 7:00 of the video, although I wouldn’t want to have missed Karlyn Bowman’s introduction. Readers who cannot abide criticism of President Trump (as in the closing minutes of the lecture) are cordially invited to pass on this and spare the disciplinary rod in comments.

Quotable quote: “Here’s Charles Murray’s law of perpetually unsettled social science…Any social science finding that says human beings do not have limitless possibilities is never going to be accepted as settled. It’s as if academics believed that Garrison Keillor was presenting test data from Lake Wobegone and that all the kids really were above average and all we have to do is scale up to the rest of the country.”

We have followed Dr. Murray with frequent attention over the years. Here I would like to note my recent posts “Charles Murray edits the SPLC” (March 26, 2017), “Mugging Mr. Murray” (May 22, 2017)(with a cameo appearance by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar playing the role of hit-and-run coward), and “Mugging Mr. Murray: Murray speaks” (June 9, 2017).