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"Yes, that Charles Murray, who in 1994 co-authored “The Bell Curve,” with Richard J. Herrnstein, arguing in two notorious chapters that I.Q. differences between the races were mostly innate and mostly intractable.

With “Human Diversity,” Murray tries to stoke some of the same controversy that powered “The Bell Curve” — which sold 400,000 copies in its first two months after publication — although more cautiously; “Human Diversity” is thick with reassurances to the reader, and caveats that individuals ought to be judged on their own merits. “I’m discussing some of the most incendiary topics in academia,” he writes, hastening to add that “the subtext of the chapters to come is that everyone should calm down.”

We are on the cusp of a revolution, Murray argues. Advances in genetics and neuroscience promise to liberate the social sciences from a stifling orthodoxy that denies the differences between people by insisting that we are blank slates, our potential impeded only by our environments. He identifies three key tenets of this orthodoxy: Gender is a construct; race is a construct; and class is a function of privilege.

Murray claims that the opposition to this orthodoxy is widespread, if covert and cowed by political correctness."