AEI: How did Jews get so smart?

“For two hours yesterday,” the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank writes, “two AEI scholars and a visiting bioethicist kibbitzed about a pressing cause: Why Jews are so doggone smart.” In the panel, AEI’s John Entine and Charles Murray discussed Entine’s new book, Abraham’s Children: Race, Identity and the DNA of the Chosen People:

Murray suggested that the rigors of Talmudic study drove out the dull Jews centuries ago. “If you were dumb and a Jew,” said the philo-Semitic Murray, “it was a lot easier to be a Christian.” Murray, best known for his incendiary book about race and intelligence, “The Bell Curve,” explored Jewish smarts in an April article in Commentary titled “Jewish Genius.”

Brought in to rebut the two scholars, Laurie Zoloth of Northwestern University floated an alternative notion: that “Jews are smart because we value learning.” […]

Murray suggested that Jews got smarter by urbanization (“the elevated Jewish IQ was making people money”), flight from Babylon (“they took the smart ones into exile”) and what he called “the ultimate hypothesis” that Jews are really “God’s chosen people.”


Milbank adds, “Left unchallenged was the question of whether Jews are indeed smarter than others — even though it would have only required a walk down the hall to the office of new AEI visiting fellow Paul Wolfowitz, whose leadership on the Iraq war and conflicts of interest as head of the World Bank demonstrate that Jews are capable of questionable judgment.”