Skip to comments.About That Dissertation
Posted on 05/20/2013 9:46:56 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
On Tuesday, May 7, I had one of my most productive days as an employee of the Heritage Foundation. Our big report on the fiscal cost of amnesty had just been released, and I packed in 18 radio interviews to promote it.
I expected more of the same on Wednesday. Instead, I found myself unplugging my office phone to avoid pesky reporters, trying in vain to do any real work, and watching helplessly as a public-relations crisis sprang up around me. Two days later I would resign.
Im telling this story not because I want or expect pity for my personal situation. Rather, its important for people to understand how hostile the political class can be toward scientific facts that make them uncomfortable. That discomfort is what caused a mainstream policy analyst to be rebranded overnight as a bigoted extremist.
Although my Ph.D. dissertation was about immigration, I was hired by the Heritage Foundation in 2010 to be a jack-of-all-trades quantitative analyst. I worked a little bit on immigration during my time at Heritage, but I developed a specialty in public finance fair-value accounting for student loans, public-pension reform, teacher compensation, etc. My frequent co-author Andrew Biggs and I have gotten some press for demonstrating over and over that generous pensions push public-sector compensation above fair-market levels. A teachers union in Texas even put us on its Top Ten Most Wanted list. But even as we attracted this attention, I could still see peoples eyes glaze over when I told them it was based on accumulated benefit obligations using fair-value discount rates.
Given all my wonkery, it felt especially strange to be suddenly characterized as an extremist. That happened on Wednesday morning, when the media first reported on my 2009 Harvard dissertation. Entitled IQ and Immigration Policy, the dissertation obviously deals with some sensitive topics. Media reports grabbed short quotes from the text and presented them as shocking. Some bad words started getting tossed around: eugenics, racism, pseudoscience, and, of course, extremism.
So what is actually in the dissertation? The dissertation shows that recent immigrants score lower than U.S.-born whites on many different types of IQ tests. Using statistical analysis, it suggests that the test-score differential is due primarily to a real cognitive gap rather than to culture or language bias. It analyzes how this cognitive gap could affect socioeconomic assimilation, and it concludes by exploring how IQ selection might be incorporated, as one factor among many, into immigration policy.
I got into all of this because I found the science of mental ability to be fascinating. I wanted to learn more and think about what lessons it might hold for public policy. Doctoral students are told to pick a topic theyre sincerely interested in, since theyll be stuck with whatever choice they make for three years or more.
I was not so naïve as to think my topic wouldnt generate controversy. But individual quotes from my dissertation are much more understandable when placed in their full context. For example, this sentence on page 66 has been widely circulated: No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against.
I dont think someone reading my full dissertation would find this statement objectionable, for two reasons. First, as Chapter 1 makes clear, the simple existence of ethnic differences in IQ is scientifically uncontroversial. (Skeptical readers should consult the American Psychological Association for confirmation.) Such differences are revealed by tabulations of test scores and calculations of arithmetic means. Their existence is no more debatable than the widely publicized ethnic differences in SAT scores. What the differences mean and what causes them are the interesting issues, which I discuss at length.
Second, the prediction that IQ differences will persist over generations does not rely on assumptions of genetic transmission, but rather on observational data from past immigrant waves. The IQ differences have been persistent for whatever reason and nothing is happening to the education or socialization of the current generation of Hispanics that gives reason to expect a break with past experience. Therefore, it is literally difficult to argue against continued differences in the next generation unless hope trumps experience, but I doubt my dissertation committee would have found that argument compelling.
Why did I discuss differences between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites at all? Because the largest portion of the post-1965 immigration wave has come from Latin America. Studies of Hispanic IQ are naturally useful in estimating overall immigrant IQ and its intergenerational transmission.
That last point bears elaborating: There is absolutely no racial or ethnic agenda in my dissertation. Nothing in it suggests that any groups are inferior to any others, nor is there any call to base immigration policy on ethnicity. In fact, I argue for individual IQ selection as a way to identify bright people who do not have access to a university education in their home countries. I realize that IQ selection rubs some people the wrong way, but it can hardly be called extremist. Canada and Australia intentionally favor highly educated immigrants. My proposal is based on the same principle they use (pick skilled immigrants), but it offers a much better chance for disadvantaged people to be selected.
If the dissertation were taken seriously, its real contribution would be to open a forthright debate about the assimilation challenge posed by the post-1965 immigration wave. Because regardless of what one believes IQ scores really measure, or what determines them, they are undeniably predictive of a wide variety of socioeconomic outcomes that people care about.
Were still waiting for that assimilation debate to start. I am not aware of a single major news outlet that acted as if my results merited real discussion. The reporters scanned the text for damning pull-quotes, giddily pasted them into stories about extremism on the right, and presented my statements as self-evidently wrong. Liberal bloggers piled on with ignorant condemnations. Even some conservative supporters of the Schumer-Rubio amnesty eagerly joined the hatefest. At no time did the critics seem to wonder whether what I was saying might be true.
The reason for that is simple. The media were never interested in me or in the substance of my dissertation. They wanted only to use my work to embarrass the Heritage Foundation and, by extension, all opponents of amnesty. Its a familiar formula for gotcha journalism: Uncover an extremist associated with a mainstream organization, then demand to know how the organization could possibly associate itself with him. Keep turning up the pressure, hour after hour, with shocking new revelations.
To see how the furor over my dissertation is so inextricably linked to todays heated debate over immigration, consider that no less a mainstream-media institution than the New York Times reported on some of my dissertations ideas in 2009. The newspapers Idea of the Day blog discussed my proposal for IQ selection in neutral terms. No moral panic ensued. Whats different now is that immigration reform is at stake, and the whole conversation is hopelessly politicized.
I dont apologize for any of my writing, but I deeply regret that it was used to hurt my friends and colleagues at Heritage. Seeing them struggle on account of me was the most painful aspect of the whole ordeal. I remember a particularly difficult moment when a Heritage spokesman went on Univision to defend the Heritage report. He explained, accurately, that I was just the number cruncher for the study. Heres the question he was given by the host:
"So youre telling me that you used the numbers from a man who has written that Hispanics have a low IQ and will have a low IQ for generations. So what makes you think, unless you agree with that premise, what makes you think that his numbers are sufficiently good in order for, for them to be included in your study?"
How can anyone respond to a question as absurd as that one?
Claims that my dissertation influenced the Heritage fiscal analysis are completely false. Anyone who reads the Heritage study will discover that the basic framework adding up government benefits received by immigrants and comparing that sum to the total taxes they pay was developed by the National Academy of Sciences in 1997. Robert Rector adapted that framework for his 2007 fiscal-cost study, and he chose the same framework again in 2013, when I helped him run the numbers. In my judgment, the initial criticisms of the Heritage study were not enough to sink it, so the media latched on to my dissertation as a convenient distraction. Better to shoot the messengers than to deal seriously with what they are saying.
Some students at Harvard are now using the same strategy to denounce my dissertation findings. An open letter signed by 23 ethnic student groups contains this gem: Even if such claims had merit, the Kennedy School cannot ethically stand by this dissertation whose end result can only be furthering discrimination under the guise of academic discourse. It would be difficult to find a more explicit embrace of censorship.
A student petition is currently circulating that calls on the Harvard administration to reject all scholarship based on doctrines that the signers dont like. The petition, which at last count had nearly 1,000 signatures, isnt just shameful, its worrisome. Many of these students will come to positions of national leadership, yet they openly oppose intellectual freedom. Going forward, I wonder what other thoughts they will seek to ban.
The furor will soon pass. Mercifully, the media are starting to forget about me. But a certain amount of long-term damage to political discourse has been done. Every researcher who writes on public policy over the next few years will have a fresh and vivid memory of how easy it is to get in trouble with the medias thought police, and how easy it is to become an instant pariah. Researchers will feel even more compelled to suppress unpopular evidence and arguments that should be part of an open discussion. This is certainly not the way science should be conducted, and its not the way our politics should be either.
Jason Richwine was a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation from March 2010 to May 2013.
Richwine was a victim of Political Correctness.
Jim DeMint: do the right thing and at least offer this man his job back. If he would take it, you could use the opportunity to educate the entire nation.
The Bell Curve once again.
Jason is a jerk, because, for the 100th time, there is no such thing as a Hispanic. The half-Indian Mexicans have nothing in common with half-Italian Argentineans, half-Negro Dominicans and the mix of ethnicities and races in Colombia and Venezuela.
Richwine is merely the latest truth-teller to be sacrificed at the altar of diversity. Pat Buchanan and John Derbyshire are also fairly recent sacrificees.
“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” —George Orwell
Doesn’t matter that that’s the case, and that the more European Cubans, for example, score quite a bit better as a group than do Indian/native Latin Americans. He’s dealing with statistics that encompass such identified groups as a whole, including the group of immigrants from Latin America.
Jim DeMint ought to be ashamed of himself for not backing Richwine, and instead throwing him under the bus.
Thanks for posting this. It reminds me of the hysteria surrounding The Bell Curve. Discussions of IQ raises raw emotions among liberals almost as fast as abortion.
On the other hand and for statistical modeling reasons, I am skeptical as to the theoretical basis for using ethnicity in studies of IQ differences. Differences among broadly defined groups does not mean that the group is a viable explanatory variable even though the differences among groups are real. For example, men on average earn more than women, but gender hardly explains these substantial differences. I have not read the thesis yet, but I hope he has a pretty good discussion of what is and is not an explanatory variable.
It is a category used by the United States government. As such, it has available statistics. He used those statistics as representative of "country of origin," which they are. That doesn't make him a "jerk."
If, as you suggest, he had analyzed the date by specific ethnic group within that composite, the study would have been unaffordable and certainly not within the means of a master's thesis.
He seems to have left out a couple of facts: IQ is affected by inadequate nutrition, and kids that are read to early tend to have higher IQs. If the Hispanic immigrant kids (legal or illegal) aren’t getting adequate early nutrition, or having “intervention” (such as reading to them, etc.) from their parents or from teachers in early years, then yeah, their IQs will test lower. It doesn’t mean — necessarily — that the lower IQ will persist into the next generation.
Perhaps .12, about the IQ of a garter snake?
yet they openly oppose intellectual freedom.........not to worry Jason, many of the liberal arts college students are no more than pawns of life who cannot think and do not question anything in depth. Shallowness and having everything instantaneous with our igadgets has made us easy targets to our enemies. Many are sleep walking life in a cushy material fashion.
Everything in the study correlates to what anyone with even a modicum of common sense perceives everyday.
Reading or any learned knowledge has no bearing on real IQ.
IQ is the ability to understand, not a measure of what someone has been taught.
My daughter got her BS degree from McGill U in lefty rich Montreal Canada. I was stunned to hear they actually taught that different races have different IQs. They didnt think there was anything controversial about it. I cant imagine that being taught in the US. NOW who is DENYING Scientific fact!
Additionally, to the extent the above is found to be the case, I would guess that young urban dwellers have been negatively impacted to an exponentially greater extent than their rural counterparts.
The dirty secret that most minorities do not get is that dyed in the wool liberals think they are stupid and not able to stand on their own and thus patronize them with entitlements and pity. It is not conservatives that discriminate, we want them to have to opportunity we have to pay for the success and be proud of that achievement, it is the democrats.
IQ is the ability to understand, not a measure of what someone has been taught.
* * *
I’m well aware of that, thank you. However, the EARLY environment of children — especially nutrition, and whether or not their brains are stimulated by input — has a lot to do with the physical development of the brain. Stick a baby in a box and feed it only enough to keep it alive, and that child will lose a number of IQ points. Expose it to interesting stimuli, and give it an appropriate diet, and the child will be able to reach its *full* IQ potential instead of only part of it.
“The dirty secret that most minorities do not get is that dyed in the wool liberals think they are stupid and not able to stand on their own and thus patronize them with entitlements and pity.”
I think if the truth be told these groups KNOW about the disparity and that it is true, despite constantly thinking up excuses for it. It may explain their not even trying to compete and their overt hostility.
But it makes no sense, and the result is meaningless. And therefore the entire study is a fraud.
quite a bit better re European (descended) Cubans is an enormous, enormous understatement - as well as an insult. A Cuban brain surgeon or architect probably scores higher than the majority of U.S. citizens. My point is:
1. As a category, the term Hispanic has about as much validity as men named Mike .
2. The writer dismisses culture as a factor - yet there is no uniform or consistent Hispanic culture. And to comment on the influence, impact or role of culture in that equation, the writer would have to be fully conversant with each and every distinct culture of Latin America - otherwise, how could he make a determination? His assessment is therefore unfounded.
All of those are subjective determined criteria. Therefore so are you.
> IQ is the ability to understand, not a measure of what someone has been taught
This abstraction might make sense to a fairly bright 10 year old, but actually making the effort to learn is practice for more learning. IQ as an innate quality is highly suspect.
True, it doesn't necessarily follow as an inevitable fact. However, if the first generation parents are limited in their economic endeavors by a low IQ and do not achieve much beyond a subsistence existence, it is likely that the non genetic factors will persist for the next and subsequent generations.
Success breeds further success, failure breeds further failure. This is not a law of nature, just an observation that unless conditions change it is unrealistic to expect outcomes to change.
For further reference see LBJ's "War on Poverty". After 49 years and some $15,000,000,000,000+ dollars, the hole is still getting deeper. The conditions persist unto the third and fourth generations despite massive government intervention, and we have yet to see anything resembling a "Great Society"!.
We have been royally screwed! With that time and money we could have built permanent colonies in space and be mining the treasures of the asteroid belt, or cured cancer, or take your pick of the thousands of dreams that will always be, "just dreams".
PS I'd shoot for the stars lest we die here in the mud, then again, that's just me...
You’re entirely missing his point. He’s dealing with statistics, averages and populations. He makes no genetics-based claims, so that a population is artificially, in that sense, cobbled together makes no difference.
In his dissertation he uses normal statistical curves to say that there are high-aptitude individuals to be found in all countries and all situations scross the planet. He advises that we find a way to identify and invite in such individuals rather than continue with our current system.
He points out that we have been taking in immigrants who significantly underperform our current population in aptitude. Further he looks to research showing those who can’t keep up academically drop out, stop trying, and become members of the dysfunctional underclass. He suggests that this greater gap for our current immigrants s mm d their offspring explains why their second and third generations here actually do w Po rse than the first generation (which is the opposite of what we saw eith a ll earlier immigration waves).
IQ is actually shown to be remarkanly fixed over time and more tied to inherited than to other factors. There tends to be a correlation between IQ and discipline as well, but indeed effort and habit pay off handsomely.
Oh, and another commonality among your mix of Hispanics: they all qualify for affirmative action in the US.
It makes perfect sense that if we allow in all the Mexicans who can't make it in Mexico, that we're going to wind up with a group of immigrants with lower IQ's than the normal population. The Mexicans with average/above average IQ's are still in Mexico, holding normal jobs like anyone anywhere else.
Of course, unfortunately, it goes beyond that as well, because IQ also varies among nations.
The “effort to learn” is a good measure of IQ. The higher the IQ the less effort to learn.
Practice and study/teaching can help someone develop what they have, but IQ won't increase a single point.
The NY Times is far more often than not the BS media.
Now we know the real reason they want these invaders as citizens: They are less intelligent than whites and therefore can be controlled a lot easier. They can be told who to vote for; who to support; they can be denied freedoms and rights and will not complain.
They can be treated as serfs without ever knowing it's happening to them.
Obummer and his craven crew of Dems are prostrate, all puckered up, sucking up for Third World votes in exchange for amnesty.
FORGET ABOUT NATIONAL SECURITY These suckers have no interest in defending US ntl security from foreign domination ---- and not a whiff of concern for the life and liberties of Americans.
OHAHA REVS UP THE US GRAVY TRAIN FOR SALIVATING THIRD WORLD SAVAGES When the Kenyan butcher hacked a Brit soldier to death, and defiantly gave an interview with his hands dripping with blood--Ohaha okayed $50 million to Kenya---as a sign of Ohaha's "tolerance and compassion."
Your tax dollars will go to build madrassas that train more of these jihadist butchers ---- and to subsidize the savages' immigration to America.
LYING IN WAIT FOR OUR TAX DOLLARS---THESE IMPOVERISHED COUNTRIES CURRENTLY HAVE ORGANIZED PRESSURE GROUPS INSIDE THE US (here illegally): Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico (stateside)l Salvador, Spain, Uruguay, Venezuela.
Is that right...
Ethnic and racial identity are self-reported. There is no objective means to identify a person’s ethnicity as used on numerous government forms and on the affirmative action forms used by companies and universities. DNA is not taken in these studies. Furthermore, studies of DNA have shown that we are all related a few times removed.
Get with the program. Of course there are Hispanics -upi capitalized the term, the census counts them, the government gibes them affirmative action benefits, and the leftists bribe them. Guess what -some of those Hispanics are also 'gay beings'... Who needs science?
The Indian and Filipino statistics really jump out at me.
My Seattle based company uses about 200 semi-skilled temp workers.
They are about two thirds foreign born, and earn $10-$16 per hour.
We usually have zero percent Indian temp workers.
We usually have about 20% Filipino temp workers.
There are thousands of Indian software engineers in Seattle, but no Indian day laborers.
Do you have any idea what occupations Filipinos work in to generate such a large median income?
Perhaps the critical word is “Household” income?
Perhaps Filipinos have more children and most of the children work?
One other possible distortion in these numbers.....
Virtually all first generation Asian children live with their parents until the children marry.
Thus, Asian “Households” are probably much larger than white and Black “Households.”
I think it might be more helpful to see the “Per Capita” income for each race.
Also, college statistics on immigrants can be quite deceptive.
Allegedly, one third of immigrants have a college degree, which is actually higher than native born white Americans.
Most immigrants come from third world countries, their degrees are NOT accredited by American corporations, and they usually spent their entire professional career working in a non-competitive job for their native government, or for a company owned by their native government.
From my associations in university and corporate environments in the US, I have a large number of Indian-ethnicity American friends, and almost all of them are of the typical nuclear family model - husband, wife and one or two kids. Most of the couples hold very traditional views on sex, and often, the husband and wife were introduced to each other by their parents. Very few divorced / single mom households in that community. It’s a stark contrast and something that stands out when you prod at the works to examine their social dynamics.
They all had an Indian bachelors degree topped by a US masters degree (and in some cases, a US PhD). US universities and companies recognise Indian university degrees, and based on how Indian students perform academically in the US, I doubt any trust deficit issue exists over the quality of the Indian university education these people received.
I am aware Filipinos and many Asians live in joint-family households. This may be a factor in skewing the Filipino statistics, but I would doubt its application on the Indian community. A nuclear family with two incomes from individuals with a BS and MS education usually in the hard sciences, medicine or engineering ought to account for the high numbers in that table for this ethnicity.
The Indian income level looked quite reasonable to me.
If my comment implied otherwise, I did not mean to.
Pew Research had a survey in 2012 on Asian voting patterns.
On that issue, the news is not so good.
Indian-Americans vote 90% for the Democrat Party, which was a complete shock to me.
Even Americans from Communist China only vote 80% for Democrats.
The Filipinos “only” vote 55% for Democrats, which makes them the most “Conservative” Asian group.
I’ve asked about it.
Indians, like most American Jews, are ticked off by what they identify as religious extremists in the Republican Party. I wouldn’t be surprised if voting patterns between the two ethnicities / cultures also matched.
I’ve asked about it too. Many Indian Hindus are proud of the religious tolerance and diversity in their country, but also think Americans lack an understanding of the Muslim issue there.
And they still have a view that however good the free market is for increasing wealth, much needs to be done for the poor. I take this to be because they have seen such poverty, as well as due to the political history and mix in which they were raised.
Let me parse the above:
An open letter signed by 23
ethnic student racial segregationist groups contains this gem: Even if such claims had merit We know these claims are scientifically true, the Kennedy [Our Holy Martyrs of the Elites John and Bob] School cannot ethically stand by this dissertation [and still be purveyors of white guilt/white elitism] whose end result can only be furthering discrimination [against those low-IQ immigrants illegally entering our country] under the guise of academic discourse [contrary to the established ruling liberal politics currently accepted].