Facing Reality is Murrays lament for America. He dissects the two key problems of race, and prescribes a reaffirmation of the American Creed of equality under the law, but is hoping against hope that those noble aims are achievable, and doubts his suggestions will be heeded. His short book might be briefly summarized as: Its Over.
This matters deeply, because he has a strong case, and at a personal level has earned his status as the American de Tocqueville. He might smile wryly at this, remembering that aristocrats cutting observation about American majority thinking:
The majority has enclosed thought within a formidable fence. A writer is free inside that area, but woe to the man who goes beyond it, not that he stands in fear of an inquisition, but he must face all kinds of unpleasantness in every day persecution. A career in politics is closed to him for he has offended the only power that holds the keys.
Murray should get a respectful hearing. His sympathies are with small town America, and with the average guy in an average job. If class can still be mentioned as relevant in these fractious times, despite his high abilities as a social statistician and scholar, Murray remains true to his roots. Like any true Scot, he would rather be respected by his clan than to suck up to the lairds.
The book is crystal clear: aggressive affirmative action is poisoning American society. Standards have been corrupted, and trust has been lost. Admitting those facts, and ceasing to reward one race over another, is the minimal step which needs to be taken to get out of the quagmire.
Here is a synopsis, from direct quotations, with some explanatory introductions in brackets, and page numbers:
(Recreational radicalism has taken over todays academia and elite media). 5
The Biden administration is acting on an assumption that has been incorporated into law for more than 50 years: it is appropriate for the government to play racial favourites, to dispense favours and penalties according to the group to which individuals belong. 6
Those of us who want to defend the American creed have been unwilling to say openly that races have significant group differences. Since we have been unwilling to say that, we have been defenceless against claims that racism is to blame for unequal outcomes. What else could it be? We have been afraid to answer candidly. 7
New York City went from 77% European in 1960 to 32% in 2019. Thats a transformation by any definition. 17
The mean differences separating European teenagers from African teenagers in math and reading havent diminished since the last half of the 1980s. (despite billions of dollars to close the gap) 41
The major tests do not under-predict the performance of African or Latins. 43
Activists say the tests are worthless  the existence of lower mean scores for Africans and Latins is in itself irrefutable evidence of bias because everyone knows that there are no race differences in intelligence. This is argued with all the passion and conviction that true believers bring to their evangelism. It does not reflect reality. 46
the odds of arrest for white offenders is approximately 22% higher for robbery, 13% higher for aggravated assault, and 9% higher for simple assault than they are for black offenders. 52
Across 13 American cities, including 4 of the nations most important ones, the African arrest rate for violent crime was usually around 9 to 11 times the European rate. 62
(scores for Harvard applicants) that gave an Asian applicant a 25% chance of admission gave an African applicant a 95% chance. 69
(applications to professional schools such as medicine and law) Africans are in the bottom quartile of test scores for all the admission tests except for those heading to business school or graduate school in education. 72
(African matriculants from medical school have MCAT scores 1 standard deviation below European matriculants) 72
(Even within occupations Africans are 1 standard deviation below the European mean) Table 6 pg 76
(Employers seeking IQ 135+ young people must choose from 160,100 Europeans; 50,700 Asians; 9,500 Latins; and 2,800 Africans) 82
(the military stand apart from all civilian occupations because they can use IQ tests, thus getting people of IQ 92.6+ and rejecting applicants despite their race) theres no reason that civilian employers that used comparable procedures couldnt achieve similar results. However, doing so would mean basing employment decisions not only on using an IQ cutoff but also on aptitude tests, both of which run the risk of violating the antidiscrimination laws that apply to civilians. 85
The American job market systemically discriminates in favor of racial minorities other than Asians. 88
Research results on any domestic policy issue involving more than one race are seldom valid unless race differences in cognitive ability and crime are taken into account. I dont ask for much. I will be gratified if researchers are buffered from accusations of racism because they entered IQ scores as an independent variable in a regression equation. 106
The bell curve of your personal experience does not involve mean differences in cognitive ability or crime rates. It is natural to think your experience invalidates the data about group differences. The mind insists on generalizing. But when mean differences between groups are real, it is absolutely essential to resist generalizing; it is essential to accept the reality of documented group differences but to insist on thinking of and treating every person as an individual. 113
Preferential racial policies have been eroding the nations commitment to impartiality for decades. 115
Ordinarily, you cant insult people into agreeing with you, but White guilt is a real thing. 117
If a minority consisting of 13% of the population can generate as much political energy and solidarity as Americas Blacks have, what happens when a large proportion of the 60% of the population that is White begins to use the same playbook? 118
Aggressive affirmative action is a poison leaking into the American experiment. We are now dealing with nearly sixty years of accumulated toxin. It is not the only cause of the present crisis, but it is a central one. 121
The solution. Eliminate all forms of government-sponsored preferential treatments by race. 122
The return to an embrace of the American creed must be a celebration of Americas original ideal of equality under the law. 124
I have been very brief. There is a treasure-trove of supplementary data which can be discussed at another time, and can be mined for detailed studies, particularly on occupations and intelligence levels by race.
The book includes some very important corrective observations. You do not refute a mean difference by finding some very gifted outliers, and concentrating on their achievements. You cannot refute national mean differences by looking at your particular neighbourhood, friendship pattern or profession, because many of those samples are highly pre-selected for intelligence. For example, in the American armed forces the use of an intelligence test leads to the races being much more alike in ability than is the case in civilian life. Intelligence differences in the armed forces will seem to have disappeared. (One dismissive reviewer in the Washington Post does not understand that blacks do as well as whites in the military because those who fail to qualify have been excluded, a right that only the armed forces enjoy).
Lived experience is a poor guide to other lives. You cannot assume equal outcomes for entire groups on the basis of your own personal networks, and group comparisons must always control for intellectual ability.
This is a good book, English rather than American in length, and with a sharp focus: if one racial group is duller and more violent than another, then a starting point is to recognize these differences, and to acknowledge the paltry changes that have been achieved by decades of compensatory expenditures.
In terms of policy, Murray is searching for a moderate consensus, fearing something worse. Relief from toxins would be a start, hence his proposed solution. As Macaulay said at dinner, age 3, sometime after having had hot soup accidentally poured into his lap: The agony is somewhat abated.
As a commentator, and not a policy maker, I forsee some problems with facing reality.
If you look at ability differences within professions, a rational rule of thumb for people of all races, entirely based on documented ability levels would be, if possible, to avoid black doctors and nurses, because they will probably be less able to care for you at European levels. Indeed, a general rule of thumb would be to avoid all black professionals, and to be guided by Tables 5 and 6, and further detailed ones on other occupations which can be derived from the referenced databases.
K-12 teachers are a full standard deviation below European ones, so all parents, black and white, should avoid those for their children. This rule of thumb will be unfair to some bright individuals, but that possibility must be balanced against the greater likelihood of having a poor teacher. Are therein lies the rub.
Ideally, you should consider each professional on their merits, but how is a citizen to do that, when all professionals hold the same qualifications? The qualifications are no guide to high ability, they merely attest to a minimal standard.
Personally, I want to judge people on their merits, but if the matter is important, and a decision must be taken quickly, I would probably be mistaken if I did not take group averages into account. Had I need of medical help when visiting America, it would be wiser to request an Asian or European doctor. Also, to save reading time, I should favour the opinions of Asian researchers in physical and life sciences, and engineering. In education, social/behavioural sciences and humanities I should stick to European authors. Rough and ready calculations can save lives. Heuristics make us smart, but not scrupulously fair.
In fact, I like judging arguments on their merits, regardless of the status of the publisher, and usually not knowing anything about the race or sex of the author, nor regarding those as important as the logic of their arguments. I dont wish to use race-based shortcuts, whatever the reality. However, once reality is faced, unpalatable consequences follow. The American dream it would not be. All citizens facing reality would vote with their feet and their wallets (if they have not already done so), fleeing dangerous neighbourhoods, poorer service and lower quality professionals wherever possible. The chance of encountering violence is low, but if it is ten times higher when encountering a black man, prudent avoidance is understandable. The de facto separation of many cities would intensify, with integration restricted to daylight hours, central city supervised areas only.
As Murray argues, if all these toxic distortions of racial favouritism are dropped, it might clear the atmosphere, though the consequences would be profound. Many black people would lose their jobs to better qualified applicants. There would be purifying competition until, like in the military, you could respect the rank of the employee and ignore the race of the person holding it, secure in the knowledge that it had been earned fairly. Devoutly to be wished. Achieving this state of affairs might present some problems. Even in normal circumstances, let alone a facing reality reform, government employees are hard to sack.
Since I dont do policy, I have no idea what would be feasible in the US or any other country, nor what would galvanize the middling folk of moderate tendencies to shun extreme positions, as Murray hopes. He fears what would happen if many white people organized on the basis of race, though his exposition makes it clear that they would have ample justification for doing so. It might lead to the end of the constitutional compromise of checks and balances, rather than restoring them.
Based on what he saw in America in 1831 de Toqueville believed that the assimilation of black people would be almost impossible. Writing this year, Murray believes that if the facts about black intelligence and crime are faced, and if whites stick to the American creed, and race-based affirmative legislation is cancelled, then equality under the law will be restored, and assimilation may yet be possible.
Since these reforms will require a massive policy change and an electoral mandate, any national government that favours mass immigration can block them by importing a new electorate. The prospects for reform do not look good, since the current administration is in favour of race-based policies, and of immigration.
That is a present and future reality which would intensify the already toxic, status quo reality which Murray wants America to face.