Jewish Genius

By Charles Murray, Commentary Magazine (April 2007)

Since its first issue in 1945, COMMENTARY has published hundreds of articles about Jews and Judaism. As one would expect, they cover just about every important aspect of the topic. 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 over representation of Jews, relative to their numbers, in the top ranks of the arts, sciences, law, medicine, finance, entrepreneurship, and the media.

I have 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 (1994). Both history and the contemporary revival of antisemitism in Europe make it easy to understand the reasons for that reluctance. But Jewish accomplishment constitutes a fascinating and important story. Recent scholarship is expanding our understanding of its origins.

And so this Scots-Irish Gentile from Iowa hereby undertakes to tell the story. I cover three topics: the timing and nature of Jewish accomplishment, focusing on the arts and sciences; elevated Jewish IQ as an explanation for that accomplishment; and current theories about how the Jews acquired their elevated IQ. CONTINUE

April 3, 2007 | 5 Comments »

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5 Comments / 5 Comments

  1. The author’s conclusion is true along with the dynamics of generational curses and blessings. A pastor once made a teaching available on cassette about blessing one’s children. I think it’s widely available. He said he had learned the principles of blessings from a good friend, an Orthodox rabbi. I had to laugh when he gave general comparisons of gentile vs. Jewish parenting styles. The Jewish parent may say a Biblical blessing over their children, while the Gentile parent will yell at the kid, “what are you stupid?! you can’t do anything right! you’ll never amount to anything!”, ouch. Then I hear some Spanish parents and grandparents call their kids “diablitos”, little devils…

    Then again, maybe the Hispanic custom of saying “Bendicion” to their kids every morning and evening is something borrowed from the Sephardim.

    The smartest of the Sephardim were so smart that they left everything behind to go to the New World. They just didn’t know that the Inquisitors were going to follow them there. Many descendants of Sephardim aren’t aware of their Jewish roots and yet make up a higher than normal percentage of the scholars and doctors of Latin America.

  2. This guy Murray should have stayed in Scotland. The Irish definitely do not need him for very obvious reasons.

    Perhaps Randy we should concentrate on the present, the problems which Israel faces, and lend out attention to Ted’s projected answer to the points made to him on the accompanying thread by Gil White.

    Or you could comment if you choose.

  3. I was impressed by the article. I do find some problems with some of the theories such as the idea that intelligence evolved due to involvement in commerce, for where the Jews were involved in urban commerce there were many many more Gentiles who did the same yet were surpassed by their Jewish counter parts. I do not dismiss that activity as an enhancement which plays a part, but it cannot make for a full explanation.

    In case you did not catch it, there were three pages to this article and in the very end he offers no definitive conclusion other than this,

    At this point, I take sanctuary in my remaining hypothesis, uniquely parsimonious and happily irrefutable. The Jews are God’s chosen people.

    I did not find the article at all racist but a bold honest look at the facts and a sincere attempt to understand them.

    I also believe there is a certain amount of truth in a number of his conclusions but that there is more to it.

    Another thought is to ask is how many of the Gentiles who achieve intellectual greatness unknowingly have Jewish ancestors. There is a lot of assimilated blood out there.

    The bottom-line is this, in general, there are differences among races. To acknowledge this is not racist but honest. The differences consist of a combination of attributes which are both inherent and developmental. This does not make you a good or bad person but it does effect who you are.

    In all fields of activity, intellectual or physical, if we exercise ourselves we will adapt and do better and become more apt for the task. This however, does not mean that some groups by nature do not produce individuals at this time which are in general more apt at certain task. (Currently, what is a running back in the NFL most likely to look like?)

    I have been accused of racism for espousing such theories, but so be it, I only judge from observation and call it as I see it. I’m not a PC person.

    I also hold a theory that body chemistry is effected by both physical and mental stress placed on it, not only for a particular individual but if that stress remains constant for generations there is an adaptation to that stress which to a degree become inherent. The hypothesis basically is this: If I work out physically I adapt and become more fit. If I do this all my life and my son does it, his son and so on for generations, there is a genetic adaptation that takes place to deal with that particular stress.

    When I have espoused this I have been accused by people of preaching evolution, but it is not. It is a theory of adaptation, for we will not change into other creatures. However, we have a spectrum of potential in our DNA make up, whatever is stressed will become predominate just as muscles respond to a work-out, whatever is seldom used will languish.

    Also, to an extent, what you are mentally and spiritually will effect you physically; sometimes this can be observed by others in your physical appearance.

    There are exceptions, but we should recognize that in general, differences do exist; we should accept that, for there is nothing wrong with acknowledging that.

    Besides, from a theological perspective, if the Jews are indeed to be a light among the nations, doesn’t it only make sense that they would be able to offer something more in the way of knowledge?

  4. Oh great, an article by the racialist “The Bell Curve” beloved by white supremacists. What a bunch of crap. This idea of Jews being attributed credit for “a genius for monotheism” is absurd to the extreme and is not even new (see the century-old A Divine Forecast of Jewish History by David Baron) seeing as how even with the visible Shekinah glory of God, His audible Voice on Mt. Sinai, repeated warnings of prophets, repeated serious judgments of God including the Babylonian captivity (just as promised), and the global dispersion (also just as promised), many if not most Jews still aren’t genius enough to trust in this God (trust being manifested in obedience–i.e., don’t give up the land) that the Darwinists seem to say the Jews evolved. Perhaps there are elements of truth in this article, but mostly a bunch of elitist, race-baiting crap with a lot of speculation.

  5. It’s very simple.

    The Jews were never ever governed by a dogma dreamed up by a bunch of “political religionists.”
    That being said, the Jews have always been essentially free to open their minds to whatever ideas they wanted. No hamstrung minds (if you’ll pardon the expression), creates an environment wherein one is essentially free to explore anything and everything.

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