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Interview: Charles Murray – Intellectual orthodoxy will collapse over the course of this decade

Charles Murray is an American political scientist, sociologist and author. He is one of the social scientists, especially in the field of research on intelligence, social assistance systems, class differences, crime and the American legislative system. He is best known for the book ‘The Bell Curve’ which he co-authored with Richard J. Hernstein, and which caused great controversy on the international scientific scene. On the occasion of the publication of his new book ‘Human Diversity: The Biology of Gender, Race, and Class’ for Heretica, he talks about the contemporary challenges of biodiversity research and comments on the prevailing socio-political climate of today.

Why do you think people / academics / scholars still to this day oppose the idea of human biodiversity? What scares them the most?

Two things: 

First, acknowledging biodiversity means acknowledging an important role for genes in determining personality, abilities, and social behavior. That in itself is scary. If everything is caused by the environment, then the possibilities for human perfectibility, and for the perfectibility of human institutions, is unlimited. If genes play a role, perfectibility is impossible and inequality will always be with us, no matter what political ideology wins out. 

Second, biodiversity means that groups of people will be unequal, whether they are sexes, races, or members of social classes. Intellectuals reflexively thinks this means ranking groups from superior to inferior. That view is wrong—the bundles of qualities in human groups are too complicated for that. For example, are Croatians superior to Norwegians? Greeks? Chinese? The answer is, “In some ways yes, in other ways no. It depends on what particular human trait you’re talking about.” In my experience, it is impossible to convince people to think that way.

Forcing everyone to think they’re the same as everyone else might not be a good strategy for success in any given field, as your new book suggests. How do you think people should approach this?

I think the solution is completely benign: People should pursue whatever gives them the most enjoyment and satisfaction. The scientific evidence is overwhelming that people, left free to choose, prefer to enter the vocations for which they have the greatest ability. So the solution is to remove artificial barriers to entering professions, maximize educational and training opportunities for everyone, and let people do what they want, regardless of whether it is a male-typical or a female-typical vocation.

Gender equality paradox teaches us that when women are free to choose they don’t go into typically male fields, how do you explain that?

If you are a woman who lives in a poor country well-paying jobs are scarce, those well-paying jobs are in STEM fields, and you have the ability to do a STEM job, you’re likely to go into a STEM field for economic reasons even if it doesn’t attract you. If instead you live in a rich country with an abundance of well-paying jobs, you are more likely to pursue the field you enjoy the most. Given the different profiles of job preferences for men and women, this means that the proportion of women who go into STEM in advanced countries is likely to be smaller than in poor countries.   

In the light of the new Coronavirus epidemic it seems that the virus is affecting different ethnic groups differently – do you think there might be some potential eugenic / dysgenic effect of this?

Just a few days ago, I asked a very senior person in America’s public health administration about the rumor that East Asians are more susceptible to the virus than others. This was a private conversation between friends. He gave me a one-word answer: “Bullshit.” 

What would your career advice be for young lecturers and students who want to pursue the topics of human biodiversity – what would you have done differently if you could start again?

It would be my own first choice if I were in my 20s. It’s going to be enormously exciting over the next decades. Ignore the controversy about it and plunge in. 

Do you believe that there is hope for freedom of expression regarding these topics in the future or that the censorship will continue?

My own view, which others think is far too optimistic, is that the intellectual orthodoxy will collapse over the course of this decade. The science assaulting it is just too powerful for resistance to hold out much longer than that.

My own view, which others think is far too optimistic, is that the intellectual orthodoxy will collapse over the course of this decade.

Charles Murray

And the last one… Professor Flynn stated in his interview that both right and left tend to censor when they are in positions of power, do you believe this to be true and why do you think it happens?

People who have access to the power of the state tend to abuse that power to advance their own agenda. That is a universal law of governance. And ultimately the reason why I remain a classical liberal despite its unpopularity at the moment. 

Interviewed by Ivana Zlatarić

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