J. Philippe Rushton topped?
April 14, 2001 1:34 PM   Subscribe

J. Philippe Rushton topped? You may remember the controversy over Mr. Rushton's book, "The Bell Curve". The scholarly work linked above has the potential to be just as provocative.
posted by BGM (19 comments total)
Abortion does not prevent murder. Abortion is murder--that is what the xtian right is likely to say (after some of them get abortions on the sly)
posted by Postroad at 1:51 PM on April 14, 2001

I thought Charles Murray and Richard Hernstein wrote The Bell Curve. I did a quick search at Amazon.com and didn't find any Rushton book on the bell curve.

But let me address the article. I'm sure it's plausible that some of the reduction in crime is due to aborting children who would have grown up in poor environments. But that doesn't justify killing the unborn. It also implicitly argues that environment is key to individual criminal behavior. But with so many varibles (genes, health, nutrition, parenting, individual decisions) such a conclusion shouldn't be implied.
posted by shackbar at 1:59 PM on April 14, 2001

Postroad, do you honestly believe that hardcore fundamentalist Christians are the only people who are anti-abortion?
posted by aaron at 2:15 PM on April 14, 2001

This is a disturbing prospect. While there's considerable room for difference in whether abortion is the government's business, I should hope we agree that abortion is, in most circumstances, a Bad Thing. Whereas this seems to be encouraging mothers to abort unwanted pregnancies, trying to convince them their kid will never amount to anything but a criminal, anyway. Reeks of eugenics, almost.
posted by dagnyscott at 2:21 PM on April 14, 2001

Aason: you have a point. There are many Christians who are opposed to abortion. There are many Christians who oppose abortions who also have abortions.
And just about all fundamentalists in all religions are opposed to abortions.
I simplified.
Dagbtsciott: I don't believe that in "most circumstances" abortion is a bad thing unless you tell me what most circumstances are: do you mean rape and incest excluded and all other circumstances bad?
posted by Postroad at 2:39 PM on April 14, 2001

Rushton's book was entitled, Race, Evolution, & Behavior: A Life History. I think an abridged version came out a couple of years ago. The book was controversial, but less so than the Murray and Hernstein book, and for a couple of reasons. First, Hernstein had some very respectable credentials, and second, The Bell Curve was aimed at a more general audience. Neither book, however, was very well received by mainstream academics. In the case of Rushton's book the criticism was that much of the data that he included in the book didn't support his conclusions. Specifically, there were charts of skull sizes that had lots of groups that went against the general trend. Personally, I'm agnostic on the issue of Rushton's book. Whenever I go down the street asking people if I can measure their heads I get a lot of rude responses. "Get away from me troll," is the most common. This would tend to lead to selection bias if I were to use those measurements in a study.
posted by hwright at 2:40 PM on April 14, 2001

J. Phillippe Rushton, Murray, and Hernstein are all lovers. I don't remember offhand any books by JPR, but they were as/more racist as CM/RH, and were a favorite of trolls on sci.anthropology. Let me guess, JPR wants black women to have free and easy abortions for out-of-wedlock births.

There was a bizarre controversy surrounding a past JPR book whereby he "stole" the mailing list of an academic press that specializes in cultural anthropology and mailed out his own personal adverts for the tome, alleging that the press had given him permission to use their name. There was furor.
posted by rschram at 2:40 PM on April 14, 2001

How many of those aborted children would have otherwise been adopted into families? Wouldn't that by definition mean they would be wanted children?

Besides, there is a difference between not wanting to be pregnant and not wanting a child once it is born........I daresay plenty of us started out as an unplanned oopsie.

I don't think there is a way this study could be valid considering how many variables there had to be.
posted by bunnyfire at 3:22 PM on April 14, 2001

Postroad: Your revised statement is still so simplified that it sounds like a Gene Ray rant.
posted by sonofsamiam at 3:38 PM on April 14, 2001

sonofsamiam: I am not sure why my view is simplified. I believe it is a woman's right to have or not to have a child, and to get an abortion if she wants one. It has also been the law in American for some years now. It is not the right of the state to tell her that she can not abort .Though there may be instances where having an aborition might be viewed by some people as mereley frivolous, I believe it is the pregant woman and not the State who can or ought to make this decision.
posted by Postroad at 4:13 PM on April 14, 2001

I was referring to your blanket description of those against abortion as fundamentalists.
I oppose abortion becoz it has not been demonstrated that a say, 4-month old fetus is not a human being. This may seem obvious to some (it doesn't look human), but it seems that when the existence of the fetus is at stake, extra consideration of the point would be prudent.
posted by sonofsamiam at 4:21 PM on April 14, 2001

I'm curious what Postroad means by "fundamentalist."
posted by rodii at 5:31 PM on April 14, 2001

Before we get sidetracked ... aw, crap. Too late.

There's a very intriguing intuitive rightness about this idea. Certainly crime is a complex issue, and so is abortion. Not everbody doing either falls into neat categories. But we can still draw broad conclusions: most crime is committed by the poor, and most abortions are in that demographic as well. Did we really abort most of the potential criminals? Did we really give most of those single mothers enough of a leg up to get out of the ghetto or the time to raise their remaining children more effectively? By comparison we have Gladwell's tipping point hypothesis regarding broken-window policing, and the economy, neither of which is wholly satisfying. We had good times in the 80s without a drop in crime; we've had tough policing in other cities that wasn't nearly as successful.

Like most sociology, this will never be something wholly proven to everyone's satisfaction, but it's a very interesting starting point for a debate.

Speculation: when will the leaders of the black community, now preoccupied with the incarceration of adults, turn their attention to abortion and conclude that it is a slow genocide? (Maybe I'm just trolling.)
posted by dhartung at 6:00 PM on April 14, 2001

Dagbtsciott: I don't believe that in "most circumstances" abortion is a bad thing unless you tell me what most circumstances are: do you mean rape and incest excluded and all other circumstances bad?

OK, I'll assume that's a reply to me... I think abortion is a bad idea... I can see plausible arguments either way in the legal argument, but not the moral one.
posted by dagnyscott at 6:57 PM on April 14, 2001

On a sidenote - anyone seen Gattaca? ;-)
posted by thunder at 7:03 PM on April 14, 2001

The study is neither pro- nor anti-abortion. Even if abortion is wrong (which I won't get into here), the study doesn't suggest it is a necessity in reducing crime rates. The conclusion, sans moral implications, is simply that women in disadvantaged socio-economic situations are more likely to have their children grow up to become criminals. Once legalised abortion came along, women from that same group were more likely to have abortions than other women, thus a having an impact on crime 15-20 years down the road.

So while there are other variables, the link here is just the correlation between lower incomes, abortion, and the propensity of children of lower-income families to commit crimes as adults. Seems plausible to me.

This real conclusion should be that prevention (via improving the situation of the poor -- not increasing the number of abortions) is hands down more effective than being "tough on crime".
posted by warcode at 8:30 PM on April 14, 2001

Sam, while I appreciate any mention of the time cube (clearly you are not evil and stupid), you're misunderstanding what postroad said. He said all fundamentalist christians are for abortion, which is not to say that all against abortion are fundamentalists.
posted by Doug at 9:30 AM on April 15, 2001

There are of course plenty of other means of fertility control besides abortion (one of which is simply information, supposedly what the Net is all about), so this seems like a pretty silly debate overall.

In any case, dagnyscott's comments bothered me a smidgen. It's a bit imperious to say that "we can all agree, I hope" regarding abortion's morality. If it's murder, it should be stopped under any circumstances, including rape and incest, right? Or is it something in between? Why not come out and say so?

Sheesh, I don't remember anyone wincing at even the word abortion until a few years after the issue became so politicized. People stopped arguing about it, and seemed to come to this agreement that, "Well, we don't think it should be illegal, but we'll wince when we hear of someone having one and decry its morality, although we reserve the right to think it's OK in our case." It's called avoiding an argument, for the good of the whole. By no means is this objectionable in itself. It is not, however, at all logical.
posted by raysmj at 9:34 AM on April 15, 2001

Doug- Oops, you are right. Apollyloggies, Postroad. (Damn knee... wont... stop... twitching...)

> clearly you are not evil and stupid
*sniff*, that's the nicest thing anyone's ever said about me :)
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:59 PM on April 15, 2001

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