President's Lecture Series


Charles Murray and Alvin Poussaint: "The Bell Curve Debate"

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Old Dominion University Field House


Charles Alan Murray is an American political scientist, writer, and public speaker. He is the W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. Murray's work has been and remains highly controversial. His book Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950–1980 (1984) discussed the American welfare system. He wrote the controversial book The Bell Curve (1994), written with Richard Herrnstein, in which he argues that intelligence is a better predictor than parental socio-economic status or education level of many individual outcomes including income, job performance, pregnancy out of wedlock, and crime, and that social welfare programs and education efforts to improve social outcomes for the disadvantaged are largely counterproductive.

Alvin Poussaint, M. D. is an American psychiatrist well known for his research on the effects of racism in the black community. He is a noted author, public speaker, and television consultant, and Dean of Students at Harvard Medical School. His work in psychiatry is influenced greatly by the civil rights movement in the South, which he joined in 1965.

Poussaint is well known in psychology regarding race relations. Much of his work deconstructs theories of race models by white psychologist previously in the field. Through his research he addresses blatant and subtle forms of racism. This is why Poussaint insist that blacks instill self-esteem and black pride into children growing up in this society. In his controversial book, Why Blacks Kill Blacks, he turns the theory or racial self-hatred on its head. He developed his "aggression-rage" theory to show the psychological issues that may plague African Americans. In his book he states, " [The theory of racial self-hatred] allows whites to feel that [blacks] are psychologically deranged while [whites are] posing as models of mental health. In fact, it must be whites who are insecure and filled with self-hatred, since they are the ones who need to oppress blacks in order to cope with life." Another interest of Poussaint is media consulting. He wants to use media to construct positive role models for children.


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