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Four comments onThe Bell Curve

Abstract

This paper first analyzes the central claim ofThe Bell Curve, to wit, that intelligence is declining in the United States. (Race is the inflammatory issue in the book, but is said to be only a side issue by the authors.) Part II of the paper then discusses how in principle one could determine whether race affects IQ, and how the difficulty of doing so in practice may explain the wildly different conclusions people arrive at in this area. Part III then points out how the assumption that the attribute under discussion is properly portrayed with a ‘bell curve’ itself is a misunderstanding; the Normal distribution is a sign that a piece of research has allowed for all the relevant variables, rather than a description of a characteristic as found in nature. And Part IV reminds us of how IQ test scores come to resemble a bell curve — entirely an artifact of the test makers.

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Simon, J.L. Four comments onThe Bell Curve . Genetica 99, 199–205 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02259523

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Key words

  • intelligence
  • normal distribution