Tag: Charles Murray

Charles Murray on the SAT


shutterstock_99158105For about six years, I tutored high-school students in the Boston area, mostly for standardized tests like the SAT and ACT. In most cases, these were high-achieving students who were looking squeeze an extra percentile or two out of their scores. As the instruction was one-on-one, this usually meant traveling to the family’s house, and working with the student at his or her kitchen table. These were generally very nice tables, in very nice kitchens, in very nice houses, themselves in very nice neighborhoods. Instructions as to how to find to the bathroom were often shockingly involved. Suffice to say, most — though not quite all — of these kids were stinking rich.

To left-leaning critics of the test prep-industry — and to many of those within the industry itself — this sort of observation often leads to worries that the tests are merely testing the students’ economic privilege, rather than their actual abilities and knowledge. It seems all the more so when most of your students are sharp-and-rich and those who aren’t are far more likely to be dull-but-rich than sharp-but-poor.

As Charles Murray points out, that’s not an illogical conclusion so much as one based on poorly-chosen assumptions. Yes, rich kids do disproportionately well on standard tests, but that’s less because their parents are rich than because their parents are disproportionately sharp, and sharp people are disproportionately wealthy and have disproportionately sharp kids:

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I wish the Republican party or conservative movement would lop off the whole IQ bit. Yes I mean the Charles Murray, John Derbyshire, Fred, Steve Sailer, Mencious Moldbug wing that promotes race and politics by IQ testing. Reading the IQ essays of the aforementioned makes me feel I’m back in the 19th century deducing personality traits or aptitude […]

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Wealth As a Means to an End—Amity Shlaes


These days, even conservatives think class warfare works. That’s the takeaway from a spate of conferences on the topic of wealth distribution that have been taking place across the country lately. It’s also the takeaway from Mary Kissel’s excellent recent video interview with Charles Murray for the Wall Street Journal. In the video, Murray cautions that class warriors succeeded in part because the American “upper class has given them a wide open target.” Murray continues with a warning about display of wealth: “it’s an American tradition that you don’t get too big for your britches once you get rich.”

Sort of. Conspicuous modesty is not an American tradition. It’s a Protestant tradition. That wealthy Americans tend to become Protestant once they are wealthy is a second tradition. Here Murray is remembering history selectively.

An Open Letter From Charles Murray to the Students of Azusa Pacific University — Peter Robinson


Because Charles says it all, I post this — this brilliant and biting and sad letter — without comment:

I was scheduled to speak to you tomorrow. I was going to talk about my new book, “The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead,” and was looking forward to it. But it has been “postponed.” Why? An email from your president, Jon Wallace, to my employer, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), said “Given the lateness of the semester and the full record of Dr. Murray’s scholarship, I realized we needed more time to prepare for a visit and postponed Wednesday’s conversation.” This, about an appearance that has been planned for months. I also understand from another faculty member that he and the provost were afraid of “hurting our faculty and students of color.”

What’s Your Advice for A Happy Life?


Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal ran a piece by Charles Murray adapted from his forthcoming book, The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead: Dos and Don’ts of Right Behavior, Tough Thinking, Clear Writing, and Living a Good Life, a volume that belongs on all sensible people’s bookshelves.

In the Journal column, he lays out five pieces of advice for living a happy life, which I’ve copied below along with brief excerpts of the accompanying explanations: