Review of Charles Murray book

by Andrew Gelman on April 19, 2012 · 3 comments

in General Politics

Bo and Ben Winegard have some thoughtful reactions to the controversial new book, “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.” The Winegards agree with me that Murray makes a mistake on focusing on upper-class liberals and not considering upper-class conservatives as well. (They include one of our Red State Blue State graphs to make the point.) But the review is not purely critical; it concludes: “Murray’s narrative is true enough to merit reflection. And, for whatever the flaws, the book is a serious attempt to grapple with a potentially urgent problem, and for that we should be thankful.”

My thoughts on Murray’s book are here.

{ 3 comments }

E April 20, 2012 at 12:09 am

This looks interesting, and I’m sure I’ll have more questions after I read it, but what’s up with the weird “super-elegant” fonts? Is this some sort of evo-psych/graphic arts design mash-up?

Adam April 20, 2012 at 1:42 pm

The review does a good job early on of exposing the essential intellectual bankruptcy of the right’s long-standing redefinition of “elite” according to choice of beverages, salad greens, and preferred exercise methods, rather than by power and resources.

Wonks Anonymous April 20, 2012 at 3:41 pm

When they got to the part about declining labor force participation I thought they would discuss Murray’s claim that economics doesn’t explain things, pointing to the 90s boom. But while others like Yglesias have confirmed that male labor participation did continue to decline during that time, I’ve heard others claim Murray is wrong about marriage rates declining at that time.

That was enough to make me disappointed with the review, but I suppose coming at it linked via a poli-sci blog I expected poli-sci wonkery and they’re just evolutionary psychologists. But then on the other hand there was no discussion of the effect on male-female relations of more widely available birth control, the large entrance of females into the labor force, changing divorce laws etc. I think evolutionary psychologists should grasp the importance of such things!

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