The Bell Curve and Its Critics by Charles Murray

Charles Murray, Commentary, May 1995.


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 one extreme, transformations in higher education, occupations, and federal power are creating a cognitive elite of growing wealth and influence. At the other extreme, transformations in occupations and social norms are creating a cognitive underclass. “Pressures from these contrasting movements at the opposite ends of society put terrific stress on the entire structure,” we write in the preface, and we spend another 550 pages of main text and 300 pages of supplementary material explaining what we mean, and what we see as the implications for America’s future.