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Also, in the original article Mr. Gladwell writes that Hernnstein and Murray "notoriously" made their proposal about sequestration of dimwits.
How is it that he not only reverses a point of fact resulting in scurrilous libel, but he also imagines a whole controversy surrounding this delusional non-event? Is he just making things up? Did he forget to blink? Yes, reflection is so passe.
I know, I know:
Gladwell is successful, therefore our criticisms can have no merit, as they are merely the product of jealousy.
What a perfect mentality for our celebrity and wealth obsesessed times. I wholeheartedly agree: accountability should be inversely proportionate to readership. That's the way to arrive at the truth!

Steve Sailer


You owe it to your readers to point out that you suffer a massive financial conflict of interest when it comes to the topic of race and IQ becomes you make so much money speaking to corporations that would drop you like James Watson if you had published a review that said that Murray and Herrnstein were right. The last thing corporations want is the usual employment discrimination lawsuits they battle each year to mention that the defendant paid a huge amount of money to hear a notorious racist who had endorsed The Bell Curve!

In 2005, New York Magazine published this estimate of your income:

Malcolm Gladwell
$1.5 million
Author, Blink
(advance, plus $250,000 New Yorker salary and $30,000 per speaking engagement)


I'm glad that journalists can make that kind of money, but it clearly limits what you can say in public if you want to keep making that kind of money. You should alert your readers to that fact.

Bob Shay

As a fairly disinterested third party, having read Gladwell's article and correction and this string of petty and tedious commentary, I can only conclude that there are a number of covetous and envious people who wish they had Gladwell's ability to write thoughtfully about important topics. So, brothers Sailer and Byrne, please, by all means, offers us some links to your own profound musings so we can be inthralled by the depth of your intellect rather then have to be stupified by the tedium of your ad hominum attacks on your intellectual superior.


Mr. Sailer,

as a regular reader of your blog (who disagrees with you on most political matters) I have to say that this thread in particular leaves me with the impression that it is you who is obsessed with Mr. Gladwell, not the other way around. Presumably, you were correct to point out a grave mistake in the article (I have not read The Bell Curve). Having said that, you are a bit of a zealot, are you not? Why not just let it rest, now that Mr. Gladwell has set things straight?

For Bob Shay, if you want to get a taste of Mr. Sailer's writings, just click on his name and you will get to his blog.

Dennis Mangan

I'd say that the reason it looks like Steve Sailer is a "zealot" is because he's been writing on the topic of race, IQ, and both together for, well, probably over a decade. Furthermore, he's probably forgot more on these topics than most people ever learned. Then along comes a famous writer who makes a serious error, along the way smearing several scholars, and who makes over a million a year, and who also has a vast readership that looks to him as an authority. I'd feel a little irked myself.

Steve Sailer

No human sciences journalist is more influential than Malcolm Gladwell. And, over the last few years, none has made more frequent and egregious errors. That's a problem for intellectual discourse in America.

Dennis Mangan

Also, Mr. Gladwell's error sure makes it look as if he never read The Bell Curve. The idea that IQ stratification in society is happening and is to be avoided is its main theme. But, hey, easier to go with the crowd and denounce rather than understand.


Dear Mr. Sailer,

I agree that Malolm Gladwell is a vey influential journalist. I also agree that he has made a number of mistakes - sometimes just plain old logical errors, sometimes errors of judgement.

The reasons I called you a zealot are twofold: First, I think you should have let it rest after your second comment on this post; second, you keep mentioning his earnings. I must say you come across as pretty bitter - as someone who feels he speaks truth to power and is not rewarded.

And believe me, this does not come from a rich man.


Dear Inductivist: "truth to power" is fine so long as you have the "truth" part. And even if you don't, it's fine to civilly disagree, instead of essentially stalking your target like a jilted adolescent.

If Mr. Sailer commented half as often and without using manipulative tactics, such as playing the victim and using specious and inflammatory language, i think we could all get along.


This discussion reminds me of something Sidney Hook once said: "Before you question a person's motives, respond to his arguments."


By Mike:

Could all of the anti-Malcolm commenters move over to their own anti-Malcolm blog, so that those of us who just want to read and discuss Malcolm's articles can do so in peace?

Wow, discussion of articles can only be carried on in peace when all commentators instinctively agree with it's contentions. We must not question the arguments made, but instead reflexively wax poetic about the conclusions, safe in our little self-perpetuating blog cocoon, because it's only us who are not "anti-Malcolm" that should remain.


Well, this is an embarrassing error by Malcolm Gladwell, but I can't help thinking that the statement by Murray and Hernstein had both a text and a subtext, as statements frequently do when discussing dangerous topics. They presented their argument as a "warning," but it's effect was to raise a subject that previously no one was talking about. Is there anybody who would bring up the idea of concentration camps for the stupid, without covering themselves rhetorically, who doesn't also belong in one of these camps?

James currin

As someone who wrote to the NEW YORKER to point out Mr. Gladwell's apparently willful distortion of Murray and Herrnstein's views, I find his "apology" deficient in two respects: First, he did not explain the circumstances of his misreading of their work Secondly, he attributes to them the view that we would have to sequester the intellectually incompetent. They said no such thing. Mr. Gladwell seems to be, in the words of the proverb, "as a dog who returneth to his own vomit."


When I first read the miss-quote I thought "could Murray have possibly said that?"

I am big fan of Gladwell and my opinion of Murray is unprintable to put it mildly, but I'm surprised Gladwell made the error, and really thought the New Yorker had good fact checkers.

How did this get past the fact checkers?


I think folks make unsupportable assumptions when it comes to the mainstream media. One of them is that articles are fact checked. I would suggest that not only is the vast majority of MSM articles not fact checked, but that the more prestigious the author, the less likely the article is to be fact checked.

I would further suggest that "facts" that conform to left-liberal prejudices are also less likely to be checked for accuracy.

Thus, you get Gladwell (high prestige author) pretty much equating Murray with Nazis (in accord with left-liberal prejudice) and the New Yorker going to print with the smear.


Isn't it nice to have Malcolm Gladwell back in print after the hiatus.

Some of you have obviously missed him very much.



I sure didn't get that sense reading the book. They seemed to me to genuinely not want to see the custodial state arise, and proposed some ideas for preventing its rise.



I haven't read the book (is there an edition that comes in a plain brown wrapper?), but the idea of a custodial state arising based on intellectual stratification seems highly implausible. As long as they are relatively attractive, people of mediocre intelligence thrive in the institutions that we have now and will likely continue to have in the future.

It seems to me that a much more likely scenario is a future in which people of above average intelligence continue to deal with the daily frustrations of working with people who have lower IQs than they do. It's tough being in a minority.

Some of them will fantasize about IQ segregation and then write books "warning" us about it.


SJ writes:
"Some of them will fantasize about IQ segregation and then write books 'warning' us about it."

Alas, Gladwell stubbornly clings to disingenuity even here, and even his detractors have mostly missed this, but Herrnstein & Murray didn't go so far as to warn of an apocalyptic future necessitating the building of "high-tech reservations" but, as one commenter noted over at Sailer's blog:

"their argument wasn't that anybody would 'have' to 'build' anything. Their argument, instead, was that as high-tech elites marry and live amongst themselves more and more, society will just become very divided by class and IQ, and that this will be like a 'high-tech . . . reservation' for the low-class people. No one is 'building' anything there."

If you read the Bell Curve, most of which has nothing to do with racial differences in IQ, you'll find a difficult to refute argument that an increasingly meritocratic (in other words, fair) society is increasingly stratified by IQ.

It's understandable that Gladwell's supporters don't know what's in the book, but that he doesn't, or willfully misrepresents it, is inexcusable.


"I think folks make unsupportable assumptions when it comes to the mainstream media. One of them is that articles are fact checked. I would suggest that not only is the vast majority of MSM articles not fact checked, but that the more prestigious the author, the less likely the article is to be fact checked."

The New Yorker has the reputation as being the most fact check publication around. And in interviews I've heard with other New Yorker writers, I have heard them talk about the fact checkers. This would not surprised me if this was printed most other publications.


Anyone who genuinely believes that this dystopia is going to build itself is harmless.

However, one reason that human characteristics are frequently distributed in bell-shaped curves must be that these distributions are extremely stable. Murray and Hernstein have a steep curve to climb in order to demonstrate that the bell curve of IQ is going to bifurcate.

So the much more likely scenario relies on the fact that in the social sciences, iron laws always end up getting an assist from human agency:

A movement will form around this book consisting of people who actually look forward to IQ stratification.



I understand your comment, but I must pose the question, "Is reputation representative of reality?"

Then again, perhaps the reputation is warranted, but that reputation is with respect to other pubs which perform next to no fact-checking. So, if the New Yorker makes even a minimal effort, it is the fact-checking star of the MSM universe.

In the case of this particular article, I see two possibilities:
1. No fact checking (ignorance)
2. Known factual problems ignored (malevolence)

If one were to poll the editors and other various folks with input in the article solicitation, selection, and massaging, where would the mean political inclination lie on the left/right spectrum?

FWIW, I am not some guy who despises the MSM. MSM has some strengths, but I think it behooves a consumer to understand its weaknesses.

Another error

@Malcolm Gladwell

You misuse (and perhaps misuderstand) standard deviation in your Dec. 17, 2007 New Yorker article. When you write "If an American born in the nineteen-thirties has an I.Q. of 100, the Flynn effect says that his children will have I.Q.s of 108, and his grandchildren I.Q.s of close to 120—more than a standard deviation higher.", you imply that the difference in SD *between* the data sets should be a source of interest, or concern.

Standard deviation (SD) tells you how far from the mean the data points *within a given data set* tend to be. So, for example, each of the three data sets {0, 0, 14, 14}, {0, 6, 8, 14} and {6, 6, 8, 8} has a mean of 7. Their standard deviations are 7, 5, and 1, respectively. The third set has a much smaller SD than the other two because its values are all close to 7.

But to say, "Wow, the difference between the SD of the first data set (7) and the last data set (1) is a full 6 standard deviations!", implies that something has improved or degraded, (that one of the groups scored higher or lower than the other group, for instane), when in fact, all the difference in SD tells us is that there was greater variation in data points WITHIN one data set, compared to the other data set.


Mr Gladwell,

could you possibly tell us how the mistake happened? Had you made notes on The Bell Curve and then relied only on those notes when writing the article?

I'm asking because of professional curiosity.

Olli Sulopuisto
freelance journalist,

Steve Sailer

Good question, Olli.

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