Jewish Genius

The American Enterprise Institute’s Charles Murray has published an article in this month’s issue of Commentary Magazine that is already raising journalistic eyebrows — and is sure to raise even more.

Murray picks up where Gregory Cochran and company left off, citing the unusually high level of Jewish influence in the arts and sciences and tying it to a supposed above-average mean IQ.

The IQ mean for the American population is “normedâ€? to be 100, with a standard deviation of 15. If the Jewish mean is 110, then the mathematics of the normal distribution says that the average Jew is at the 75th percentile…

The key indicator for predicting exceptional accomplishment (like winning a Nobel Prize) is the incidence of exceptional intelligence. Consider an IQ score of 140 or higher, denoting the level of intelligence that can permit people to excel in fields like theoretical physics and pure mathematics. If the mean Jewish IQ is 110 and the standard deviation is 15, then the proportion of Jews with IQ’s of 140 or higher is somewhere around six times the proportion of everyone else.

Murray — who outs himself as a Scots-Irish Gentile from Iowa at the beginning of the article — is, of course, jumping into controversial waters here: polite company, we’re told, should avoid discussing the intersection of race and genetics. But I don’t fault Murray for raising a difficult issue — though I may fault him for taking such a wildly speculative take on the subject.

Cochran, Hardy, and Harpending believed that the genetic predisposition to intelligence was limited to Ashkenazic Jews and began to develop in the Middle Ages as these Jews became increasingly involved in sales, finance, and trade — occupations that privileged intelligence.

Murray, however, believes that Jewish intelligence goes back much further. He spends significant time focusing on the intellectual demands of Judaism and a 1st century call for universal (male) education.

To study the Talmud and its commentaries with any understanding requires considerable intellectual capacity. In short, during the centuries after Rome’s destruction of the Temple, Judaism evolved in such a way that to be a good Jew meant that a man had to be smart…

Posted on April 12, 2007

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