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

Jason DeParle, New York Times, October 9, 1994.


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 ‘The Other America’ was to the 1960’s,” or that it was. Even his most bitter enemies concede his formidable intelligence, and in the wake of his antigovernment theories, it sometimes seems downright utopian for others to argue that Federal support can help the disadvantaged.

Though much of official Washington regards him as a menace, Murray’s influence is still on the rise, both as the enemy of social programs and the champion of the two-parent family. His prophecy last year of a coming white underclass touched a national nerve, and it brought a flurry of proposals to deny welfare to young mothers. It also brought a surprisingly respectful comment from President Clinton. While he did not agree with Murray’s solutions, the President said, the warning about out-of-wedlock births “did the country a great service.”

New York Times