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am 12. Dezember 1999
The question is not whether a difference exists in IQ scores between whites and blacks, but why does the difference exist! Murray and Herrnstein give a fairly convincing argument that IQ is a factor in determining ones success in life. Blacks with an IQ of 120 are just as likely to graduate from college as whites or Asians with a similar IQ, and Murray and Herrnstein note that fact in their book. However, I do think that the authors did not provide convincing evidence that IQ is primary genetic. That's the flaw of the book.
My second comment is about the racial aspect of the book. I am an African-American man, and I did not find the book to be racist. In our age of political correctness, anyone who writes about the differences between the races will likely face a firestorm of criticism, regardless of how accurate the content of the book. People of African heritage tend to run faster than people of European heritage. As a matter of fact, men of African heritage ran the top 30 times ever recorded in the 100-meter dash. If someone observed and commented about this fact, does that make him or her a racist? It certainly does not!
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am 26. Januar 2000
From all the negative commentary surrounding this book, one might get the impression that this is a book about race and genetics. It is not. It is a book that explores the role that intelligence plays in the formation and stratification of society. The book's main thesis is something like this: In society (America) there exists measurable differences in intelligence levels among individuals. These differences may be adequately discerned by using objective mental tests. The result of these differences in intelligence are profound. Individuals at the low end of "the bell curve" of the intelligence distribution exhibit higher rates of criminality, illegitimacy, poverty, and other social pathologies. Those with higher I.Q's, however, have the best jobs, engage in less criminal activity, and largely inhabit the upper class of America. Indeed, as the authors point out, one's I.Q. and not one's race, gender, or present social position will largely determine the type of job one will have. Society has thus become (or is fast becoming) a meritocracy according to intelligence. Those with high I.Q's (120 and above) will be the future lawyers, doctors, accountants, technicians, scientists, engineers, academics, and the like. Those who posess substandard cognitive abilities will find modern society relatively more difficult than those with high intelligence. The issue of race is covered mainly in one chapter. I must say, contrary to the critism, the authors handled this politically correct issue with much civility and restraint. If the book is read with care, one will notice that conclusions are not made where the evidence does not warrant them. The authors simply present the most current and relevant evidence (from both sides) and either conclude that additional evidence is required or they provide a conclusion that is warranted. One point that bears repeating on the issue of race and intelligence: every race is represented throughout the distribution of intelligence. That is, though certain groups (races), may be found more frequently on the distribution in certain parts, individual members of all the groups are represented in all parts of the distribution. If we then accept the fact that individuals always differ with respect to intelligence and we understand the previous sentence, I see no reason to fear the data presented in this book with regards to race and intellligence. For the two previous sentence make clear that one's race does not determine one's cognitive ability and the authors make no claim to the contrary. The book as a piece of scholarship is first rate and highly readable.
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am 11. Juli 2000
The Bell Curve is a marvelous compilation of scientific theory, statistical data, and controversial convictions, one of the finest works in its genre. Charles Murray and the late Richard J. Herrnstein make claims that intelligence and IQ play a key role in the shaping of the framework of society, and use proven statistics and graphs to appropriately justify their thesis. From their perspective, the cognitive and social underclass is largely responsible for many of the social ills of society (crime, illegitimacy, substance abuse), while the 'cognitive elite' live in peace and prosperity while attending opera and orchestral concerts, detached from the average Joe of society. A small but significant portion of the book is dedicated to on racial and ethnic differences in intelligence and the consequences of these results - sure to ignite passionate debate.
No doubt conservatives, Murray and Herrnstein make a variety of proposals to better this nation - they denounce welfare and affirmative action, believe that funding should be diverted away from the disadvantaged to the gifted, and praise the American school system in its success in streaming the 'cognitive elite', however poor, to top Ivy League schools. There is special resentment towards single mothers who, intellectually deficient themselves, give birth to 'dumb babies' at a high rate ('giving birth to violent criminals in boys and more single mothers in girls'), while the 'cognitive elite' continue to have low fertility rates, putting the nation at risk of dysgenesis.
Such cries of doomsday are quite prominent throughout the book, but Murray and Herrnstein present utopian views of a future custodial state, in which the cognitive elite take care of the growing underclass, to keep the dumb 'happy' and the smart 'safe' from their hazard.
However controversial, their claims are poignant and right-on-the-money, and this provocative work is a must read for those concerned about the present and future state of America.
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am 24. März 1999
This book is as much about logic as it is about race. It was written by an Ashkenasic Semite and a European Caucasoid for those whose rationality is strong enough to override their emotions and the propaganda of the media-educational brainwash complex. Those who feel it is not racist to blame Whites for Black failure without any evidence but who never miss an opportunity to accuse Whites of racism even if they dare to acknowledge the intellectual superiority of North East Asians will not understand it. They lack the IQ to participate in a productive economy or in sound debate, so they are in academia.
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am 1. Januar 2000
Just as it was predicted on its cover The Bell Curve did stir up controversy. I started reading it with a heavy dose of skepticism, but I found its arguments, its conclusions and the researches they are based on flawless and utterly believable. It did convince me that intelligence in some limited ways IS measurable.
What disturbs me the most about the controversy surrounding this book is its misguided narrow focus that actually takes away the attention from the frightening conclusions that have serious implications about the kind of society our children will live in. The Bell Curve is about social stratification, about the process that is turning the social gap between the haves and the have-nots into a gap between the can-dos and the can-nots. The picture is not pretty. It seems that we are moving toward a Brave New World by natural selection.
This book is not about race. Although race is undeniably part of the problem, it is not what this book is all about or what it should be read for. While it is absolutely true, that based on solid (and I repeat SOLID) evidence The Bell Curve points to a difference between the average IQ of blacks and whites, it also points out, based on the same solid research, that the average IQ of blacks as a group is growing faster than the average IQ of whites. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Blacks started with a disadvantage, they have to play catch-up, and they are doing a pretty good job at it. Only we cannot really say that as it touches on the essential schizophrenia of black politics. On the one hand it is not acceptable to say that blacks are inferior in any respect, while on the other hand whites (and the Jews and the evil Koreans) should compensate them for all the disadvantages that their mal-treatment caused them to develop. Like everybody else in politics, politicians of black interest want to have their cake and eat it too.
Should you read this book? ABSOLUTELY! It is one of the most important books of the decade, just like Losing Ground was of the eighties. It will not make you happy as the picture is bleak but it contains knowledge that we all should have. The authors do not (really) show a direction. They do not have answers to the problems they describe. They do not have to. This is a book of science, not propaganda.
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am 23. September 1999
Jefferson did us a diservice by confusing us on the concept of equality from the very beginning. He should have been clear and said, "All men are created with equal inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and equal protection of the law. Governments are instituted among men in order to secure these rights, and ensure that anyone who tramples on the rights of others forfeits their rights in accordance with due process of law." By leaving the concept open-ended--"All men are created equal"--he left us with the ambiguous concept that somehow humans can be "equal" to each other, like numbers can be equal to each other. I say that when the concept of equality is applied to humans, it must never be left hanging, but the blank in the phrase, "equal in ....." must be filled. Equal in position? wealth? talent? height? compassion? beauty? villany? God forbid, intelligence? I read this book, "The Bell Curve" pretty much from cover to cover. I found that it was backed up with enormous amounts of studies, data, thoughtful analysis, and it accorded with experience. A lot of people may not LIKE the facts the authors lay out, nor the conclusions to which they come, and refuse to believe them because of their passionate belief in an ambiguous "equality." A lot of people didn't want to believe Copernican astronomy either, and attacked Copernicus and Gallileo. Make no mistake, egalitarian ideology is the enemy to science as much or more so than religion ever was. But facts are stubborn things. No one disputes that blacks and Hispanics score lower on standardized tests than whites and Asians. The big dispute is over why and whether it can be changed. Murray and Hernnstein give the evidence for why they think intelligence is 60-80% genetic. I repeat, they give EVIDENCE, and anybody who disputes their findings must counter it with opposing evidence, not simply huff and puff and denounce the authors as somehow immoral. One more thought. Another reviewer here said that equality is an alien concept in nature and the animal world. In his words, "hierarchy, inequality, dominance, and power are the chief features of evolution." If we are part of the evolutionary process, then "equality", is contrary to reality. It is OBVIOUS that people are unequal in abilities and intelligence, and this has a definite bearing on life outcomes. Funny thing, Christianity says that we are equal before God, but never tried to claim that we are equal in any other way, nor does it try to dismantle hierarchy or suppress economic diversity. Jesus said, "The poor will always be with us." So both of the main belief systems on the origin of life, Darwinian evolution and Judeo-Christian theology, accept inequality as an immutable fact of life. If Jefferson were alive, he would be fascinated by where his unclear syntax has led us, and perhaps would want to clarify, as above.
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am 2. November 1999
This was an interesting book. By that, I mean not to say that the facts it presented were interesting, since all the statistical jargon seems more to be way of confusing the reader than anything. When authors insert so much "factual evidence" in their work, it is probably to overwhelm the reader and place the writer on a pedestal; hence, the reader may not understand the material, but there is so much "statistical evidence" that one thinks the author uncapable of drawing a wrong conclusion. This is a public forum for discussion, and I have no wish to insult anyone who views my review. However, it should be pointed out that the Chinese and Indians I have studied with seem to possess the highest "intelligence" in the world, whether it be crystalline or liquid (I forget the exact terms, it was two years ago that I read the book). I also know quite a few Black people who are very intellectual. While some may say that the strict culture of the Chinese and Indians is responsible for their success, it must be noted that the Indians had conceived ideas about anti-matter, big-bang, black holes, and numerous other subjects long before anyone. The Chinese came up with paper, rockets, gunpowder, printing-press, to name just a few things, and until the 17th century, invented the most advanced machines from their technological knowledge. Yet, things change; people change; times change. And for any race to claim inherent superiority over another is, perhaps not immoral, but definitely not advisable. The Chinese didn't do it, the Indians didn't do it, the Moors didn't do it, when each of those races had world ascendancy. Why should anyone else do it?
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am 20. September 1999
This book declares that measurable intelligence (IQ)--learning potential--is inborn, a fact that I won't dispute. It's usually pretty easy to tell which child is bright, and which may be slow, from a fairly early age. (I say 'usually' because there are exceptions--children of extremely high intelligence who were misdiagnosed as being dull at an early age. Albert Einstein, for example.) Environment is a factor, albeit a much smaller one. So as I muddled through the graphs and charts (no statistician, I), I found myself wondering what exactly the authors were trying to communicate. Is it that a person's race may determine their intelligence? I hate to say this, since I'm all for intellectual curiosity, but I wonder what the point of such knowledge would be. On average, that a black person's IQ is 15 points than the average white person's? Averages are averages, and figures are only figures. What would it mean, and how could this be important to our society? This book raises more questions than it answers.
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am 20. August 1999
Though many have pointed out some of the statistical flaws in "The Bell Curve" since its publication, serious people can no longer doubt that the main ideas proposed by the authors are highly likely to be true. Anyone with an above average intelligence who has lived in neighborhoods and attended schools with people of lower intelligence can attest to the idea that intelligence is largely innate. But the real issue is no longer whether intelligence is largely genetic or correlates well with socioeconomic status, but rather whether or not these ideas should become a part of our social consciousness. There is a kind of this-worldly eschatological hope in the idea that all people are truly equal and will some day attain the highest levels of human life. At this point in our history, the question is whether it is in our best interest to destroy this hope, or whether we should embrace the kind of natural caste system that "The Bell Curve" proposes.
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am 11. Januar 1997
While the popular press has spent a lot of energy talking
about what this book has to say about correlations between
race and intelligence, the book deals with that only
peripherally. It is fundamentally about intelligence and how
it correlates with a host of problems in our society. The
authors conclude (based on reams of cited references) that
a) stupid people do stupid things and b) while it appears
that intelligence is predominantly genetic, it is no easier
to change the environmental portion than the genetic portion.
The last chapter has an interesting (good) defense of our social
welfare state.
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