In reviewing Charles Murray's controversial new book Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010, Richard Nisbett agrees with the author that, while the top 20 percent of White Americans have maintained their strong position on a variety of social indicators in the past 50 years, the bottom 30 percent have lost major ground. However, Nisbett takes issue with Murray's explanations for this (e.g., dependency created by the welfare state and a failure of the upper class to "preach what they practice"). Nisbett doesn't claim to know the reason for this situation, but does suggest:
The interventions that seem to me to hold the most promise have to do with education.…This includes instruction of mothers-to-be and new mothers in proper infant care and intellectual stimulation…The best preschool programs result in drastic reductions in the likelihood of being held back in school or assigned to special education, dramatically higher likelihood of completing high school and going to college, and greatly reduced likelihood of being imprisoned or becoming a public charge.Do you agree with Nisbett that educational programs hold the most promise? How should psychologists contribute to rectifying problems such as the drastic increase in unemployment and out-of-wedlock births in the bottom 30 percent?
By Richard E. Nisbett
PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(30)