April 08, 2007
Charles Murray's Jewish Genius
By Steve Sailer
"Since its first issue in
Commentary has published hundreds of articles
about Jews and Judaism. … But there is a lacuna, and not
one involving some obscure bit of Judaica. Commentary
has never published a systematic discussion of one of
the most obvious topics of all: the extravagant
overrepresentation of Jews, relative to their numbers,
in the top ranks of the arts, sciences, law, medicine,
finance, entrepreneurship, and the media."
Jewish Genius, Commentary, April 2007
The irony is that, beyond the
specific accomplishments of thinkers such as Albert
Milton Friedman, one of the great general Jewish
contributions to the world over the last two centuries
has been their attitude of relentless critical inquiry.
Admittedly, this "question
everything" predilection hasn't always worked out
for the best. Freud's obsession with uncovering the
long-term impact (if any) of
toilet training, for instance, proved to be a
huge waste of time for
all concerned. Yet the world has benefited, overall,
from the rule more strongly advocated by Jewish
intellectuals than by any other group: That
nothing should be immune from analysis.
Well, to be precise, let's strike
"nothing" from that principle and substitute
"only one thing." And that lone topic too sacred for
public discussion is:
Jewish influence itself—especially when the
investigation is carried out by non-Jews.
Jewish success in the public sphere is one of those
phenomena that is widely denounced as a "stereotype".
But it is as well documented as anything in the
In their 1995 book Jews and the New American Scene,
late Seymour Martin Lipset of the
Wilstein Institute for Jewish Policy Studies and
Earl Raab of the Perlmutter Institute for Jewish
Advocacy pointed out that, while Jews had comprised only
about three or four percent of American adults,
"…during the last three
decades, Jews have made up 50% of the top two hundred
intellectuals, … 20 percent of professors at the
leading universities, … 26% of the reporters, editors,
and executives of the major print and broadcast media,
59 percent of the
directors, writers, and producers of the fifty
top-grossing motion pictures from 1965 to 1982, and 58
percent of directors, writers, and producers in two or
primetime television series." [pp 26-27]
This adds up to a lot of
One unfortunate example: over the
last half decade, the world's
most famous living author hasn't been able to get
his two most recent books published in America. Why not?
Because they comprise an even-handed two-volume history
of the world-changing role of Jews in
his country's history. And virtually nobody in the
Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave has
complained about this astonishing situation, or even
mentioned it in print. (To find out who this writer is
and to read the first excerpts in English translation to
be posted on the Web, click
So, how have Jews achieved so much
sway over society? If the members of every group were
equal on average, as the dogma of political
correctness insists, then there would be something
deeply suspicious about these Jewish attainments.
But in fact the Jewish tendency
toward greater than average
intelligence, energy, and
interest in public affairs are simply more powerful
any conspiracy theory.
As Murray points out:
answer must call on many characteristics of Jewish
culture, but intelligence has to be at the center of the
answer. Jews have been found to have an
unusually high mean intelligence as measured by IQ
tests since the first Jewish samples were tested. (The
widely repeated story that Jewish immigrants to this
country in the early 20th century tested low on IQ is a
canard.) ... But it is currently accepted that the
mean is somewhere in the range of 107 to 115, with 110
being a plausible compromise."
Without understanding the impact of
Jewish intellectuals upon the last century, which UC
Yuri Slezkine calls with minimal
hyperbole The Jewish Century,
can't understand modern history. And a necessary,
although not sufficient, condition for
Jewish intellectualism is high Jewish intelligence.
And yet, pointing out the palpable
about Jewish influence and intelligence is rarely done,
at least in public.
Murray even ran into this
ethnocentric reluctance to discuss Jewish IQ in
Richard Herrnstein, one of the
heroes of the human sciences:
personal experience with the reluctance of Jews to talk
about Jewish accomplishment—my co-author, the late
Richard Herrnstein, gently resisted the paragraphs
on Jewish IQ that I insisted on putting in The Bell Curve
Jewish Genius article is a response to
the landmark paper by
Henry Harpending, and Jason Hardy entitled
The Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence [PDF
file], which was reviewed
here in VDARE.COM in June 2005. As
Nicholas Wade, the New York Times' genetics
correspondent, summarized it:
of scientists at the University of Utah has proposed
that the unusual pattern of genetic diseases seen among
Jews of central or northern European origin, or
Ashkenazim, is the result of natural selection for
enhanced intellectual ability. The selective force was
the restriction of Ashkenazim in medieval Europe to
occupations that required more than usual mental
agility… Ashkenazic diseases like Tay-Sachs, they say,
are a side effect of genes that promote intelligence."
Say Intelligence and Diseases May Be Linked in
June 2, 2005]
theory—which was also recently evaluated by another
heavyweight, Harvard cognitive scientist Steven Pinker,
The New Republic focuses on the evolutionary
pressures on just one group of Jews and one time period:
Yiddish-speaking Jews of Northern and Eastern Europe
(the ancestors of most American Jews) over the last
Israel, the descendents of the Ashkenazim have
substantially higher average IQs than other Jews.
Murray, while admiring of the CHH
thesis, wants to complement it. He suggests that
"elevated Jewish intelligence was (a) not confined to
Ashkenazim and (b) antedates the Middle Ages."
Easter Sunday, it's hard to argue against the
long-term influence of ancient Jews.
Cochran points out in response to Murray on the
Gene Expression blog: "Nor is there the slightest
sign that that Jews were sharper than average in
Classical times: not one single paragraph in preserved
classical literature suggests that anyone had that
Still, the ancient Greeks were so
brilliant that everybody else might have looked dim to
contemporaries by comparison. So pointing out back then
who was in second place, smartswise, might have seemed
as pointless as debating over who was the best actress
Helen Mirren at playing a
Elizabeth last year.
There's an African proverb that
when the elephants fight, the grass gets trampled. I,
personally, can't resolve the Murray-Cochran debate.
Instead, let me note that it's
admirable that Jewish-owned magazines like Commentary
and The New Republic are opening themselves up to
more honest discussions of this crucial topic.
Clearly, some Jews put a lot of
energy into the traditional obsession of worrying.
"Is it good for the Jews?" Being a big fan of
enlightened self-interest, I have no objection to that.
What I object to is unenlightened self-interest—which
the current taboo on discussing human diversity
Without far more of this kind of
frankness, Jewish pundits and publications will continue
to slip into their own self-defeating Isms, such as: