“The Bell Curve”
To the Editor:
Chester E. Finn, Jr. in his review of The Bell Curve [Books in Review, January] has done much to counterbalance the avalanche of opprobrium heaped upon the authors of the book, Charles Murray and Richard J. Herrnstein. . . . Nevertheless, some of his statements—or omissions—merit further examination. . . .
There is no getting around the fact that the heritability of any multidetermined characteristic is always (except in monozygotic twins) partial. This, of course, follows logically from the estimate of “60 percent heritability,” but more should have been made of the remaining portion, determined by “nurture.” The omission is made more noxious by the authors’ failure to observe (as Mr. Finn notes only in passing) that the “sifting” due to inherited capabilities is anything but highly efficient, a fact which mitigates their phenotypic effectiveness. . . .
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