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Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life

1 rating: 4.0
A book by Richard J. Herrnstein

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Tags: Books
Author: Richard J. Herrnstein
Genre: Nonfiction
Publisher: Free Press
1 review about Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure...

Intelligence and Class Structure by Murray et al.

  • Feb 4, 2006
The authors attempt to provide a rational discussion on intelligence and cognitive abilities. The general area of IQ
testing is imprecise from the outset. Traditionally, IQ tests
have attempted to measure creativity and analytic abilities.
The measurement of creativity is difficult to divine because it
has spatial aspects as well as an experiential domain specific
to each person. Analytics can be improved with education.

In addition, there are fine distinctions between aptitude and
achievement. Some students have significant aptitude; however,
they do not apply themselves to their work. Others have
less aptitude, work harder and achieve more. Academe has had
a constant tug-of-war between the proper balance of both.
Does the institution want students with tremendous aptitude or
achievement or both? Some students achieve more despite having
less aptitude. These differences boil down to choices institutions make in their everyday admissions decision.

If the institution provides an entry path and scholarship to
students having aptitude but displaying little achievement,
there is a risk that the student body will lack motivation.
On the other hand, students with a solid track record of
achievement may excel even with a lesser degree of aptitude.
The debate rages on with no apparent end in sight.
Then of course, there are cultural differences ,emotional IQ
differences and a plethora of other considerations too numerous
to list here.

The acquisition of learning techniques is another complicating
factor in measuring IQ fairly. Superlearning by Ostrander
teaches that relaxation/concentration techniques enhance
learning. In addition, music accompaniment facilitates learning.
Breathing techniques enhance the physical well-being which
contributes to performance on standardized examinations.
In the USA, children learn to read, write and compute; however,
there is little if no teaching of the process of learning.
This omission places students at a competitive disadvantage
with students who are taught the learning techniques.

A 10 year old with knowledge of basic fractions and analytic
geometry has less knowledge than a counterpart who has studied
mathematics through calculus. Once a student has studied
high school mathematics through calculus, he/she is in a
preferred position to recognize sequential characteristics
as well as geometric measurements and differences. In addition,
students of music may gain additional creativity from developing
a high proficiency on a specific musical instrument.

The authors classify people by IQ and occupation. For instance,
professionals have a 114 average IQ; whereas, managers have
an IQ of 108. The division of labor seems to be a division by IQ, as well.

The authors make many associative inferences without the
benefit of statistical inference measurements; such as,
confidence intervals. They state or imply the following:

- dropout rates increase for lower IQ but they are low for
moderate IQ

- there are fewer gifted persons who are disadvantaged
[ the government has tried to correct this inequality
through voucher systems, charter schools, busing and a
number of other strategies aimed at equalizing opportunities]

- there is an association between income and intelligence

- most people are stuck near where their parents scored
[ for this reason many parents encourage children to attend
college ]

- IQ is inheritable within the following range 40%
- identical twins raised apart suggests a 75-80% heritability

- if twins differ in inheritability it is due to finite genetic
differences. The Gnome map has yet to be studied in depth.

- the propensity to mate increases with cognitive ability

- people born in poverty will remain there
[ unless they win a lottery or attend college or a trade
school ]

- the probability of marriage goes up and not down with IQ >

- brighter people tend to resolve marital problems

- illigitimacy is centered in the low cognitive groups
[ marital counseling is important to address this issue]

- as IQ increases, illigitimacy decreases for first births

- IQ is a greater predictor of illegitimacy amongst poor white
women than all white women

- fewer high IQ women go onto welfare after the birth of the
first child

- SAT coaching increases test scores by approximately 40 points
on the combined score

There are some classic fallacies in the presentation. The idea
that income and intelligence are correlative is disputable.
How about a poor person who wins the lottery? Does such a
person gain intelligence upon becoming an instant millionaire?
How about inheritance? Does a child gain intelligence once the
inheritance is passed down?

The whole area of university education aims to increase
knowledge and critical thinking skills. Certainly, a college-
educated person should score higher on a standardized IQ
test after college than before. A rigorous college program
will teach the integral calculus, logic, advanced sentence
structure and other skills pertinent to the types of problems
posed on standardized IQ tests.

The authors might argue that lower IQ students do not attend college. The facts will show that some students with lower SAT scores attend college, work harder and graduate. In addition, the skilled trades provide greater income opportunities for the poor.

Technology has helped students focus on process rather than
arithmetic compilation. For instance, statistics may be taught
with scientific calculators. These new and cheap machines
can perform the mean, variance, standard deviation, regression
and correlation computations almost instantaneously. So, the
challenge is to teach students how to use the scientific
calculator and how to interpret the data displayed .

For all of the above reasons, readers should view this book with caution. The inferences are associative . In contradistinction, the scientific method sets forth formal hypotheses, tests of the hypotheses and inferences within specific confidence intervals of the data.

This book does not present the same scientific validity;
however, the research is worthy of debate in a highly controlled
academic environment. The Superlearning techniques are becoming
more popular. These techiques teach relaxation skills and
integrating music with study to achieve maximum learning
transfer and knowledge retention.

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