Commentary

America Against Itself

- Interview by Sean Collins, Spiked Review, August 2016.
Excerpt: With the publication in 2012 of Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, political scientist Charles Murray – celebrated and denigrated in equal measure for his earlier works, Losing Ground (1984) and The Bell Curve (1994) – produced… More

Our Corrupt Government by Christopher DeMuth

- Christopher DeMuth, Claremont Review of Books, Summer 2015.
Excerpt: Charles Murray’s By the People takes Madisonian decline in a different direction. Its title, of course, is from the poetic invocation of republican government at the crescendo of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The thesis of Murray’s book is that… More

The Case for Conservative Civil Disobedience

- Carlos Lozada, The Washington Post, May 6, 2015.
Excerpt: From the tea party to Occupy Wall Street to #BlackLivesMatter, America has spent much of this young century questioning its premises. And as the battles over federal spending, economic inequality and racial injustice continue, Charles Murray comes… More

‘The Bell Curve’ 20 Years Later: A Q&A with Charles Murray

- Natalie Goodnow, AEIdeas, October 16, 2014.
Excerpt: October marks the 20th anniversary of “The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life,” the extraordinarily influential and controversial book by AEI scholar Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein. Here, Murray answers a few… More

A Tale of Two Cities

- R. Shep Melnick, Claremont Review of Books, Summer 2012.
Excerpt: Charles Murray knows how to draw attention. Soon after Coming Apart appeared, nearly everyone who follows public affairs knew of the yawning gap separating the declining, demoralized “Fishtown”—Murray’s name for the 30% of the… More

Two Americas, Growing Apart

- Jonathan Rauch, Reason, June 2012.
Excerpt: Unless you live in a cave, you know the controversial work and reputation of Charles Murray. Losing Ground, published in 1984, proposed eliminating welfare as we knew it and became the template for conservative welfare reform. The Bell Curve (1994)… More

American Caste

- Kay S. Hymowitz, City Journal, Spring 2012.
Excerpt: When Charles Murray’s best-selling Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010 appeared a few months ago, the book’s fictional working-class neighborhood, Fishtown, became one more battleground in America’s 50-year-old culture war.… More

Mind the Gap by Yuval Levin

- Yuval Levin, Weekly Standard, March 19, 2012.
Excerpt: Charles Murray’s profound and important new book has, for the most part, been received as merely the latest volley in the inequality debates. Its champions have tended to praise it for shedding light on overlooked aspects of the gap between rich… More

Lunch with the FT: Charles Murray

- Edward Luce, Financial Times, March 9, 2012.
Excerpt: I ask Murray about the reaction to Coming Apart. Though hailed by a New York Times columnist as probably one of the most important books to be published this year, others have accused him of wilful blindness to the economic causes behind the… More

What Charles Murray Gets Right

- Ross Douthat, New York Times, February 14, 2012.
Excerpt: “Coming Apart” offers a convincing account of how meritocracy has exacerbated the problems that Murray describes — encouraging the best and brightest to work and live and (especially) mate within the cocoons of what he calls the… More

Can the Working Class Be Saved?

- Ross Douthat, New York Times, February 11, 2012.
Excerpt: Coming Apart, the book that’s launched a thousand arguments this winter, is a brilliant work with an exasperating conclusion. What’s brilliant is Murray’s portrait, rich in data and anecdote, of the steady breakdown of what he calls America’s… More

The Virtue Deficit

- Ron Haskins, National Review, February 6, 2012.
Excerpt: Charles Murray writes important and provocative books. His latest book, Coming Apart, joins Losing Ground (1984) and The Bell Curve (1994) as, in my view, among his most important and most fascinating. Given Murray’s longstanding status as a bête… More

Values Inequality

- W. Bradford Wilcox, Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2012.
Excerpt: Mr. Murray’s sobering portrait is of a nation where millions of people are losing touch with the founding virtues that have long lent American lives purpose, direction and happiness. And his book shows that many of these findings are also… More

The Great Divorce by David Brooks

- David Brooks, New York Times, January 30, 2012.
Excerpt: I’ll be shocked if there’s another book this year as important as Charles Murray’s Coming Apart. I’ll be shocked if there’s another book that so compellingly describes the most important trends in American society. Murray’s basic argument… More

White Blight

- Kay Hymowitz, City Journal, January 25, 2012.
Excerpt: Charles Murray is back, and the debate about wealth and inequality will never be the same. Readers of the political scientist’s earlier work, especially The Bell Curve and Losing Ground, might assume that with his new book he is returning to the… More

Interview with Charles Murray

- David Kelley, The Atlas Society, August 5, 2010.
Excerpt: Kelley: Let’s begin by talking a little about the method and procedure of Human Accomplishment. You employ a method, which you explain very clearly, of measuring accomplishment through the statistical combination and analysis of the judgments… More

Murray’s Truths

- Liam Julian, Weekly Standard, September 22, 2008.
Excerpt: Charles Murray has written a bracing book about education, one determined not only to upset apple carts, but explode them. In varied ways he has succeeded, and for that we should be thankful; the conversations of self-described education reformers… More

Sentimental Education

- James Pierson, The New Criterion, September 2008.
Excerpt: Murray thinks that the nation would be better served if we lowered our expectations about what schools can accomplish and found new ways to train and educate students outside the context of schools, colleges, and formal degree programs. Murray, a… More

The Check Is In the Mail

- Lawrence M. Mead, First Things, October 2006.
Excerpt: Toward the end of In Our Hands, Murray makes clear that his priority is not really to overcome the dysfunctions behind poverty. Rather, it is to restore the small-government society of the nineteenth century. Then there were no government social… More

The Battle of Ideas

- The Economist, May 23, 2006.
Excerpt: It would be foolish to underestimate Mr Murray’s ability not just to stir debate but to steer policy: 12 years after “Losing Ground” was dismissed as the work of a wild-eyed fanatic, Congress had passed the welfare reform act. Just as… More

Charles Murray: Abolish the Welfare State

- Michael Barone, U.S. News & World Report, March 29, 2006.
Excerpt: Within a few years of the publication of Losing Ground, Gov. Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin began his rounds of welfare reform, replacing by-right welfare payments with work requirements. Governors in other states, most of them Republicans but some of… More

Ending Welfare As We Knew It by Myron Magnet

- Myron Magnet, National Review, December 19, 2005.
Excerpt: There’s no better proof of the adage that ideas have consequences than Charles Murray’s Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950–1980. The magisterial 1984 classic provides a double measure of evidence: in its argument, and in the fact that… More

Interview with James Heckman

- Douglas Clement, The Region, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, June 2005.
Excerpt: Region: In 1995, you wrote a very strong critique of The Bell Curve, Herrnstein and Murray’s book about IQ, genetics and ability, which argued that nature far outweighs nurture. Heckman: My review wasn’t as negative as those of others. I… More

Research and Welfare Reform

- Lawrence M. Mead, Review of Policy Research 22:3 (May 2005).
Abstract: Social science research had an important but limited effect on welfare reform, meaning recent enactments that imposed work requirements on family welfare. Policymakers sometimes ignored findings, but the features of research also limited its… More

The Manhattan Institute at 25

- Tom Wolfe, in Brian Anderson, ed., Turning Intellect into Influence, Manhattan Institute, 2004.
Excerpt: But when the smoke cleared, Losing Ground was still standing. It had proved impossible to pigeonhole it in any ideological fashion. Murray had served in the Peace Corps in Thailand for six years after graduating from Harvard and wrote with a genuine… More

Of Human Accomplishment

- Denis Dutton, The New Criterion, February 2004.
Excerpt: Readers familiar with Charles Murray’s work (Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950–1980, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life) know that he is not a man to shy away from controversy or bold opinions. In Human… More

Race and IQ: Part III

- Thomas Sowell, Townhall.com, October 3, 2002.
Excerpt: I happened to run into Charles Murray in Dulles International Airport while he and Richard Herrnstein were writing “The Bell Curve.” When I asked him what he was working on and he summarized what he was writing, he could tell that I was… More

How Think Tanks Achieve Public Policy Breakthroughs

- Lawrence Mone, Manhattan Institute, May 29, 2002.
Excerpt: It was back in 1984 that we sponsored what was to become a landmark book: Losing Ground, by Charles Murray, which was published by Basic Books. Charles, at the time, was a not very well known social scientist, but his analytical and writing skills… More

IQ since The Bell Curve

- Christopher F. Chabris, Commentary, August 1998.
Excerpt: In The Bell Curve, Herrnstein and Murray set out to prove that American society was becoming increasingly meritocratic, in the sense that wealth and other positive social outcomes were being distributed more and more according to people’s… More

The Murray Manifesto

- Daniel Casse, Weekly Standard, January 20, 1997.
Excerpt: Charles Murray, the author of Losing Ground and The Bell Curve, two of the most-discussed books of the last 15 years, has taken on the task of presenting a more sober, respectable libertarianism. What It Means to Be a Libertarian is an attempt to… More

Whose Welfare? AFDC and Elite Politics

- Steven M. Teles, University Press of Kansas, 1996.
Excerpt: There is no way to overestimate the effect that Charles Murray’s book Losing Ground had on the intellectual debate on poverty. Murray’s modest proposal, the outright elimination of cash welfare, opened intellectual space not only on the… More

Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns

- Ulrich Neisser, chair, report of a Task Force established by the American Psychological Association, American Psychologist, February 1996.
Excerpt: In the fall of 1994, the publication of Herrnstein and Murray’s book The Bell Curve sparked a new round of debate about the meaning of intelligence test scores and the nature of intelligence. The debate was characterized by strong assertions as… More

Charles Murray and the Underclass: The Developing Debate

- Ruth Lister, ed., IEA Health and Welfare Unit in association with The Sunday Times London, 1996.
Excerpt: IN 1989 Charles Murray visited Britain in search of the ‘underclass’, courtesy of The Sunday Times. Four years later he returned to warn that the crisis of the ‘underclass’ was deepening. The two essays which Murray wrote are brought together… More

Intelligence and the Social Scientist

- Leon R. Kass, The Public Interest, Summer 1995.
Excerpt: Someone who has not read the book, but “knows” it only from the largely irresponsible things written and said about it, will be surprised to discover that The Bell Curve is not primarily about race. Neither does it teach that genes… More

The Bell Curve and Its Critics by Charles Murray

- Charles Murray, Commentary, May 1995.
Excerpt: In November 1989, Richard Herrnstein and I agreed to collaborate on a book that, five years later, became The Bell Curve. It is a book about events at the two ends of the distribution of intelligence that are profoundly affecting American life. At… More

Ethnicity and IQ

- Thomas Sowell, The American Spectator, February 1995.
Excerpt: The Bell Curve is a very sober, very thorough, and very honest book—on a subject where sobriety, thoroughness, and honesty are only likely to provoke cries of outrage. Its authors, Charles Murray and the late Professor Richard J. Herrnstein of… More

An Army From Academe Tries to Straighten Out ‘The Bell Curve’

- Richard Morin, Washington Post, January 16, 1995.
Excerpt: A small but growing army of American academics is on what may be a Mission Impossible: determining whether the statistics in the “The Bell Curve” are straight or crooked. At the University of California at Berkeley, a team of sociologists… More

The Bell Curve

- Chester Finn, Commentary, January 1995.
Excerpt: As any author can attest who has brought forth a book and waited months for even the hometown paper—let alone the New York Times—to review it, the instant celebrity accorded The Bell Curve is astounding, the more so when one hefts this weighty… More

Mainstream Science on Intelligence

- Wall Street Journal, December 13, 1994.
Excerpt: Since the publication of “The Bell Curve,” many commentators have offered opinions about human intelligence that misstate current scientific evidence. Some conclusions dismissed in the media as discredited are actually firmly supported. This… More

Dispirited

- Glenn C. Loury, National Review, December 5, 1994.
Excerpt: Reading Herrnstein and Murray’s treatise causes me once again to reflect on the limited utility in the management of human affairs of that academic endeavor generously termed social science. The authors of The Bell Curve undertake to pronounce… More

Methodological Fetishism

- Brigitte Berger, National Review, December 5, 1994.
Excerpt: For all its wealth of data, skillful argumentation, and scope, The Bell Curve is a narrow and deeply flawed book. Murray and Herrnstein have fallen prey to a methodological fetishism that prevents them from adequately considering alternative, equally… More

Moral Intelligence

- Michael Young, National Review, December 5, 1994.
Excerpt: In its main outlines theirs is a story of progress. Intelligence—or cognitive ability, as they prefer to call it most of the time—seems to have swept almost all before it. “The United States led the rest of the world in opening colleges to… More

Meritocracy That Works

- Loren E. Lomasky, National Review, December 5, 1994.
Excerpt: If the aim of social policy is to raise the abilities of the less well-off, without trying to achieve parity across races and classes, then speculation concerning the genetic basis of cognitive abilities is largely beside the point. What matters is… More

Is Intelligence Fixed?

- Nathan Glazer, National Review, December 5, 1994.
Excerpt: Herrnstein and Murray give some surprising data (surprising in the light of their argument that intelligence is fixed early and can’t be changed appreciably through environmental intervention) on the degree to which differences between whites… More

Paroxysms of Denial

- Arthur R. Jensen, National Review, December 5, 1994.
Excerpt: Commenting not as an advocate but as an expert witness, I can say that The Bell Curve is correct in all its essential facts. The graphically presented analyses of fresh data (from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth) are consistent with the… More

Trashing The Bell Curve

- Daniel Seligman, National Review, December 5, 1994.
Excerpt: It is clear enough what The Bell Curve‘s liberal critics want. They want its ideas suppressed. They want the data to go away. They want the authors depicted as kooks and extremists. The case made by the book is just too threatening to their own… More

Living with Inequality

- Eugene D. Genovese, National Review, December 5, 1994.
Excerpt: The Bell Curve has much to offer. Its excellent analysis of the transformation of the American elite deserves high praise and a many-sided elaboration and critique, as do its cautious and modest proposals for reforms that, happily, do not fit any… More

Going Public

- Richard John Neuhaus, National Review, December 5, 1994.
Excerpt: The statistical data on which the book bases its conclusions about the cognitive differences between whites and blacks are impressive. And, since it would seem to be nearly impossible for anybody to prove the contrary, one can, for argument’s… More

Not Hopeless

- Ernest Van den Haag, National Review, December 5, 1994.
Excerpt: The Bell Curve shows that cognitive ability measured by IQ tests reliably predicts success—professional, academic, pecuniary—and that, on average, African-Americans have an IQ about 15 points below that of Caucasians, whose IQ, in turn, is lower… More

Legacy of Racism

- Pat Shipman, National Review, December 5, 1994.
Excerpt: Human intelligence is an eel-like subject: slippery, difficult to grasp, and almost impossible to get straight. Charles Murray and the late Richard Herrnstein make a heroic attempt to lay before the public a topic of writhing complexity: the… More

Common Knowledge

- Michael Barone, National Review, December 5, 1994.
Excerpt: The Bell Curve is not an argument for racial discrimination. It is an argument against racial discrimination, against the one form of racial discrimination that is sanctioned by university and media and government and corporate elites: racial… More

Acting Smart

- James Q. Wilson, National Review, December 5, 1994.
Excerpt: Serious readers will ask four main questions about The Bell Curve. Is it true that intelligence explains so much behavior? How can IQ produce this effect? If it does, is there anything we should do differently in public policy? And will this nexus… More

Sins of the Cognitive Elite

- Michael Novak, National Review, December 5, 1994.
Excerpt: Our intellectual landscape has been disrupted by the equivalent of an earthquake and, as the ground settles, intellectuals are looking around nervously and bracing themselves. At such times, the best policy is to heed the evidence that leads toward… More

A Conversation with Charles Murray

- Transcript, Think Tank with Ben Wattenberg, October 1994.
Excerpt: MR. WATTENBERG: Hello. I’m Ben Wattenberg. Welcome to a special two-part edition of Think Tank. You know, sometimes an argument within the scholarly community is so fierce that it spills over into the popular press. For the next half hour,… More

‘Bell Curve’ Ballistics

- Robert J. Samuelson, Washington Post, October 26, 1994.
Excerpt: “The Bell Curve” — the controversial book about the role of intelligence in society — is already a commercial success. Its publisher reports that it has now gone to four printings, totaling 200,000 copies. This is heady stuff… More

For Whom the Bell Tolls

- Peter Brimelow, Forbes, October 24, 1994.
Excerpt: “MY POLITICAL aspiration,” the American Enterprise Institute’s Charles Murray tells FORBES, “is the restoration of the Jeffersonian republic.” Murray’s critics may read his aspirations differently—and a good deal less… More

IQ: What’s the Fuss?

- Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, October 21, 1994.
Excerpt: “The Bell Curve” is a powerful, scrupulous, landmark study of the relationship between intelligence and social class, which is what the book is mainly about. It is secondarily about differences among ethnicities (they are not addressed… More

What Is Intelligence, and Who Has It?

- Malcolm W. Browne, New York Times, October 16, 1994.
Excerpt: In “The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life,” Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray write, “Mounting evidence indicates that demographic trends are exerting downward pressures on the distribution of… More

Daring Research or ‘Social Science Pornography’?: Charles Murray

- Jason DeParle, New York Times, October 9, 1994.
Excerpt: Now, if his name is not a household word, it is about as close as a social scientist can get. It is hard to know which is more startling — that Murray would imagine before publication that the book might be “to the 1980’s what… More

Talking Points: Response to Charles Murray

- Welfare Reform Working Group, William Jefferson Clinton Library, May 3, 1994.
Excerpt: “He did the country a great service. I mean, he and I have often disagreed, but I think his analysis is essentially right. Now, whether his prescription is right, I question… I once polled 100 children in an alternative school in… More

Subsidized Illegitimacy

- Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, November 19, 1993.
Excerpt: In fact, the idea I proposed is not at all original. I was merely echoing Charles Murray, who in his book, “Losing Ground,” offered the cold turkey approach as a “thought experiment.” That was a decade ago. Two weeks ago in… More

Congress Writes a Law: Research and Welfare Reform

- Ron Haskins, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 10:4 (Fall 1991).
Abstract: This paper traces the development of the Family Support Act of 1988 in the U.S. House of Representatives. The author, a Republican staff member, examines the impact of research on the policy environment that made welfare reform possible, on the… More

Poor Support: Poverty in the American Family

- David T. Ellwood, Basic Books, 1988.
Excerpt: Charles Murray’s powerful indictment of the social welfare system implicitly emphasizes these contradictions. According to Murray, the very system that was designed to help the poor has created dependent wards by penalizing the virtuous and… More

The Origins of the Underclass

- Nicholas Lemann, The Atlantic, June 1986.
Excerpt: The conservative answer is that welfare and the whole Great Society edifice of compensatory programs for blacks do exactly the opposite of what they’re supposed to: they make blacks worse off by encouraging them to become dependent on… More

Q&A: Charles Murray; Of Babies And Stick

- Robert Pear, New York Times, April 11, 1986.
Excerpt: One of the Reagan Administration’s main sources of inspiration on social welfare policy is a book by Charles Murray, a conservative social scientist. In “Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950-1980,” published in late 1984, Mr.… More

The Rediscovery of Character

- James Q. Wilson, The Public Interest, Fall 1985.
Excerpt: Charles Murray, whose 1984 book, Losing Ground, has done so much to focus attention on the problem of welfare, generally endorses the economic explanation for the decline of two-parent families. The evidence from the negative income tax experiments… More

Charles Murray & His Critics

- Robert Royal, Crisis Magazine, July 1985.
Excerpt: What is it about Charles Murray’s Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950-1980 (Basic Books, 1984) that has evoked such violent reactions? After initial shock at its publication last September, liberals have countered with a cataract of… More

Author’s Attacks On ‘Great Society’ Shift Social Debate

- Juan Williams, Washington Post, May 28, 1985.
Excerpt: Early last year a little-known social-policy analyst had three minutes, as part of a White House round-table group, to tell President Reagan how to improve American society. The analyst said that as a “white conservative” the president… More

Reason Interview

- Reason, May 1985.
Excerpt: REASON: Your book Losing Ground is very hot right now. Why did you go into this analysis of social welfare policy? MURRAY: My professional background consisted of evaluating specific programs the government was sponsoring in education or social… More

The Battle Over ‘Losing Ground’

- Michael Barone, Washington Post, April 3, 1985.
Excerpt: The debate rages over Charles Murray’s book “Losing Ground.” Has he conclusively proved that Great Society programs hurt rather than helped the poor and therefore should be repealed? Or is he a hit-and-run mercenary in the pay of… More

Escaping the Poverty Trap

- Robert J. Samuelson, Newsweek, September 10, 1984.
Excerpt: Political scientist Charles Murray is probably going to be roasted as a reactionary. He’s just written a well-documented polemic arguing that government’s efforts to combat poverty have not only failed but have actually made matters… More