Join 3,375 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


IQ and the Nativist Movement
May 14, 2013 8:46 AM   Subscribe

Jason Richwine has resigned from the Heritage Foundation. Richwine is the author of a the Heritage report, "The Fiscal Cost of Unlawful Immigrants and Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer." In 2009, Richwine earned his doctorate from Harvard University, and his dissertation was titled "IQ and Immigration Policy", which argued that Hispanic immigrants have lower IQ than white native immigrants.

Heritage has responded: "The dissertation was written while Dr. Richwine was a student at Harvard, supervised and approved by a committee of respected scholars.

The Harvard paper is not a work product of The Heritage Foundation. Its findings do not reflect the positions of The Heritage Foundation or the conclusions of our study on the cost of amnesty to U.S. taxpayers, as race and ethnicity are not part of Heritage immigration policy recommendations."

A member of Richwine's dissertation committee, George Borjas, responded: "“I have never worked on anything even remotely related to IQ, so don't really know what to think about the relation between IQ, immigration, etc,” Borjas told me in an email. “In fact, as I know I told Jason early on since I've long believed this, I don't find the IQ academic work all that interesting."

Scholar of immigrant identies and fellow Harvard-PhD holder, Diego von Vacano:

"I am stunned by the lack of rigor and intellectual depth evinced by Richwine’s dissertation. The work makes extremely simplistic assumptions about “race,” immigration, and the link between IQ and genetics. Even a neophyte in matters of genetics/genomics can see the gaping holes in Richwine’s logic."

More: INFIGHTING: Conservatives Bash Heritage Immigration Study

And interview with Byron York.

Why Did Harvard Give a PhD for a Discredited Approach to Race and IQ?
posted by MisantropicPainforest (139 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
Heritage can say what they want, but they published the Fiscal Cost report bullshit. Harvard has got serious egg on their face (which were collected using immigrate labor, no doubt), and needs to look into who passed off on this dissertation as legit. But, you know, elitist bullshit and all that.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 8:49 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are also some links in this blog post at Discovery pertaining to the topic.
posted by ChuckRamone at 8:54 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I get the sense from reading that last link, about the PhD, that no one knows (or will admit) why he got it. Can you have a degree revoked?
posted by anti social order at 8:54 AM on May 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Heritage Foundation is a conservative research think tank based in Washington D.C. Read studies and papers on free enterprise, limited government, individual ...

Oh, I guess I am *so* surprised then.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:54 AM on May 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Race, always race. Feed a person, educate them and refrain from hitting them, and my guess is you end up with a smart person, regardless of the color of their skin. Immigrants come here because they feel like they've got a shot at that, not because they already have it, you morons.
posted by Mooski at 8:54 AM on May 14, 2013 [26 favorites]


Very good Ta-Nehisi Coates piece: The Dark Art of Racecraft
posted by shothotbot at 8:56 AM on May 14, 2013 [16 favorites]


Why Did Harvard Give a PhD for a Discredited Approach to Race and IQ?

This also confuses my low immigrant intellect. Hopefully some more questions will be asked of and about Harvard concerning this, although, of course - being the child of non-whites - I would hardly be able to understand the answers. Ha ha ha, I so am stupid and worthless!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:57 AM on May 14, 2013 [31 favorites]


Can you have a degree revoked?

No, not really. A degree isn't like a license or an award, its something you earn and keep.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:58 AM on May 14, 2013


Cristo, lo que es un grande culo idiota!
posted by wcfields at 8:58 AM on May 14, 2013 [17 favorites]


WTF is a "white native immigrant"?

Is that Richwine's term? Or a term used in the field?
posted by notyou at 9:00 AM on May 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I realize this FPP is more about a Ph.D being awarded for bullshit science, but speaking here as someone who's studied the science of intelligence, I'd like to explain just why IQ is such bullshit, and completely irrelevant for adults.

IQ stands for "Intelligence Quotient."

A quotient is the result of one number divided by another.

In the case of IQ, this is the "intellectual age" of the child, i.e., the age where the child's performance on the test is the average, over the "chronological age" of the child, i.e. the number of years since birth. It is defined as a developmental measure created to predict the performance of children in school, and ceases to have meaning once one is past schooling age.

Beyond that point, any findings relating to IQ have more to say about the society they're found in than the individuals tested.

Of course, there are still certain correlations with IQ that can be found, but fixating on IQ is overly simplistic and misses many of the root causes (nutrition, stimulation, attention, education... and so on).

In short, anyone using IQ as a measure of anything but school performance (it's essentially a test to see how well you will do on tests) is full of shit, and grabbing for headlines because people still don't know what IQ means.
posted by Eideteker at 9:00 AM on May 14, 2013 [74 favorites]


Can you have a degree revoked?
Yes. The former German Education Minister recently lost theirs for plagiarism. Simply for "being rubbish research"? I don't know.
posted by Jehan at 9:03 AM on May 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


GOP’s problems with Latinos could get much, much worse
Given the current scandal-mania, it’s no surprise this went under the radar, but in Florida, the GOP’s state director of Hispanic outreach, Pablo Pantoja, has resigned his position, left the Republican Party, and changed his party identification to “Democrat.”

His reasoning is straightforward: For all the focus on outreach to Latino communities, Pantoja believes that there is a “culture of intolerance surrounding the Republican Party.” In a letter, he cites the recent revelations surrounding Jason Richwine, a former scholar at the Heritage Foundation, and his ideas on race and intelligence. “Although the organization distanced themselves from those assertions,” writes Pantoja, “other immigration-related research is still padded with the same racist and eugenics-based innuendo.”

And then there’s also all the GOP rhetoric about immigration. It’s not hard to find examples of prominent Republicans using racially-loaded terms like “anchor babies” and “illegals” to describe unauthorized Latino immigrants and their children. Indeed, the Republican presidential primaries were soaked with derogatory rhetoric towards immigrants, and one candidate — Texas Governor Rick Perry — began his slide to defeat after he expressed sympathy for the children of unauthorized immigrants.

Pantoja’s departure from the Republican Party is instructive. Not only does it illustrate the dynamic of the last four years — where Latino voters responded to negative Republican rhetoric by going further into the Democratic camp — but the potential dynamic of the next decade. As Greg noted earlier this morning, conservative Republicans in the Senate are preparing to introduce a variety of “poison pill” amendments to the immigration bill — which is happening right now as we speak — designed to make the package unpalatable to supporters. Likewise, House Republicans have yet to offer their support to a comprehensive bill.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:04 AM on May 14, 2013 [14 favorites]


I came in here to say what Jehan said. Pál Schmitt, the former president of Hungary, was stripped of his PhD (and pressured to resigned the presidency) because most of his dissertation was plagiarized. I don't think just having a crappy dissertation and/or unsavory argument is enough to get a dissertaion revoked, though.
posted by dhens at 9:07 AM on May 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


WTF is a "white native immigrant"?

Is that Richwine's term? Or a term used in the field?


In the field of conservative racism it is probably quite common.
posted by elizardbits at 9:09 AM on May 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


Heritage Foundation suddenly realizes how creepy their name sounds
posted by theodolite at 9:11 AM on May 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


Native American Man Tells Anti-Illegal Immigration Protesters Who 'The Real Illegal Immigrants Are'
posted by zombieflanders at 9:11 AM on May 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


In the field of conservative racism it is probably quite common.

I am envisioning "the field of conservative racism" as a country pasture with a bunch of cattle roaming around -- with the same, inevitable results dotting the ground and stinking up the place.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:11 AM on May 14, 2013 [3 favorites]



Very good Ta-Nehisi Coates piece: The Dark Art of Racecraft


Was coming in here to see if someone had linked this yet. It's definitely worth reading, as is nearly all Ta-Nehisi. Pretty much any group of people that someone has tried to disenfranchise or enslave has been proven at some point by SCIENCE to be barely sentient. See: the Irish, the Jews, Chinese, Women, &c.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:12 AM on May 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


"How racist do you have to be to get fired forced to resign from the Heritage Foundation?" is not a question I ever thought I'd have answered. So that's something.

I do feel that the Harvard bit of the story is the more interesting one and I look forward to hearing the answer to "why did Harvard give a PhD for a discredited approach to race and IQ?" Maybe they have an affirmative action plan for giving out PhDs to racists. Wouldn't that be grand?
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:12 AM on May 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Heritage Foundation suddenly realizes how creepy their name sounds

Yeah, I've come to assume that anything with the word "heritage" in the title is massively racist until proven otherwise.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:12 AM on May 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


The PhD is specifically from the Harvard Kennedy School, which is for Public Policy and Government. I'll go out on a limb and say it's possible to have an intelligent doctoral level discussion about whether intellectual capability is correlated with ethnic origin or immigration status. Whether this thesis actually does that is another matter; characterizing it as "race" and "IQ" sure sounds troublesome. The dissertation itself is online but I'm not about to spend my morning reading it.

PhDs, even from places like Harvard, are not universally high quality. Down the river a bit I watched MIT (Media Lab) give at least one PhD for a dissertation that was obviously 90% bullshit, just because it was easier than kicking the student out or keeping him around.
posted by Nelson at 9:13 AM on May 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


Not surprised by Borjas's approval, but what's going on with Jencks?

The third member of the committee is the big surprise, and the big problem: Christopher Jencks, for decades a leading figure among liberals who did serious research on inequality—a contributor to The New York Review of Books, the author of important books, including Inequality: Who Gets Ahead?, The Homeless and The Black White Test Score Gap. Christopher Jencks knows exactly what’s wrong with the studies purporting to link “race” with “IQ.”

Richwine concluded his dissertation, “From the perspective of Americans alive today, the low average IQ of Hispanics is effectively permanent.” Why would Christopher Jencks decide that that dissertation was worth a Harvard PhD? I asked Jencks whether he would comment. He replied “Nope. But thanks for asking.”

No less than Rush Limbaugh has cited the approval of the dissertation by Christopher Jencks, “a renowned left-wing academic,” as proof that the young man is being railroaded.

posted by longdaysjourney at 9:13 AM on May 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I've come to assume that anything with the word "heritage" in the title is massively racist until proven otherwise.

Same thing for "Family" and "Patriot."
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:15 AM on May 14, 2013 [29 favorites]


At last! An institution who will regard my groundbreaking dissertation on how the invisible aether influences intelligence through phrenology with the seriousness it deserves! Always knew I could cut it at Harvard.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:16 AM on May 14, 2013 [13 favorites]


So I'm guessing that (for Harvard) this is, at heart, a High-Profile-Academic-Doesn't-Actually-Read-All-The-Dissertations-He-Signs scandal?
posted by straight at 9:17 AM on May 14, 2013 [17 favorites]


from the dissertation itself: "Christopher Jencks generously signed on as the committee's late addition and offered his own valuable input."
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:17 AM on May 14, 2013


Native American Man Tells Anti-Illegal Immigration Protesters Who 'The Real Illegal Immigrants Are'

...The protestors mostly ignored the man though some responded by informing him that they too were of Native American descent, and yet others simply suggested he'd had too much to drink...


Stay classy, protestors!
posted by elsietheeel at 9:17 AM on May 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


At last! An institution who will regard my groundbreaking dissertation on how the invisible aether influences intelligence through phrenology with the seriousness it deserves! Always knew I could cut it at Harvard.

Bah, heliocentrism and flat-earth theories are where the real money's at.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:18 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, was (Harvard Professor!) Niall Ferguson on his doctoral committee? (wink)
posted by dhens at 9:20 AM on May 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, if their great-grandparents had just had the good sense to move to the US, Those People wouldn't be so dumb. Obviously.

(Also, as pointed out, the idea of a Hispanic "race" is comical; ask anybody of Hispanic ancestry who's been genotyped about their probable admixture.)
posted by uncleozzy at 9:23 AM on May 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I've come to assume that anything with the word "heritage" in the title is massively racist until proven otherwise.

Same thing for "Family" and "Patriot."
By any chance you folks work for the IRS?
posted by notyou at 9:25 AM on May 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Heritage fired Jason Ritchie for writing a racist dissertation, so why shouldn't Harvard fire his dissertation advisor and AEI fire Charles Murray?
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 9:25 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, as pointed out, the idea of a Hispanic "race" is comical; ask anybody of Hispanic ancestry who's been genotyped about their probable admixture.

The Future of White People
Hispanics have one of the highest rates of intermarriage in the country, and are on a general path of upward mobility. In other words, they have all the hallmarks of a group moving towards assimilation. Salam highlights this: “Almost 80 percent of third-generation Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans have no more than two grandparents born in Mexico or Puerto Rico respectively,” he writes, “The same is true of 90 percent of third-generation Americans of Cuban, Dominican, Chinese, and Filipino ancestry.” By the time you reach the third-generation of Latino and Asian Americans, only a small minority identify primarily with their ethnic or national background.

This isn’t an unusual trajectory—Italian immigrants and their descendants followed it, as did Irish immigrants and other European immigrants. For those groups, their national and cultural distinctions fell away until—by and large—they were just “white.” Assimilation had cleansed “Italian-ness” and “Irish-ness” of its stigma, giving Irish and Italian Americans a chance to participate in the full range of national life.

Pundits routinely predict a “majority-minority” America, on account of large waves of Latino and Asian American immigration. But that depends on the emergence of a durable Latino and Asian identity. There are signs of it happening—the partial result of right-wing nativism and anti-immigrant policies—but it’s no guarantee. And if it doesn’t, assimilation and high intermarriage rates are likely to give us a repeat of the 20th century—today’s “Hispanics” and “Asians” will be tomorrow’s white people with a different flavor of ethnic last name.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:26 AM on May 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


His dissertation advisor has tenure.

AEI coddles racists.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:27 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


By any chance you folks work for the IRS?

Let's just say you should have all of your receipts in order for the last 5 years.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:29 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pretty much any group of people that someone has tried to disenfranchise or enslave has been proven at some point by SCIENCE to be barely sentient. See: the Irish, the Jews, Chinese, Women, &c.

It's called infrahumanisation; categorising a subgroup as less than entirely human, often suggesting that while they can speak a language and experience crude emotions like surprise, rage, desire and such, they are incapable of the more refined forms of subjective experience.
In the UK, similar beliefs are apparently commonly held about welfare recipients, with the stereotype of the thuggish, tracksuit-attired “chav”.
posted by acb at 9:30 AM on May 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


Ask not for whom the bell curve tolls. It tolls for thee.
posted by GuyZero at 9:31 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am glad you were able to make a successful FPP on this topic, I saw this a few days back and knew I would not be able to post it without getting deleted.
posted by infini at 9:32 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


if their great-grandparents had just had the good sense to move to the US

then they'd still be immigrants! raaaaaghhh!
posted by elizardbits at 9:32 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


In the UK, similar beliefs are apparently commonly held about welfare recipients

I'm pretty sure this is universal, especially amongst conservatives. See also: Mitt Romney and his amusingly ironic 47% of the vote share.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:33 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I saw this a few days back and knew I would not be able to post it without getting deleted

same, except with more swears.
posted by elizardbits at 9:33 AM on May 14, 2013 [13 favorites]


It's true - the same slander is applied to nearly all immigrant groups. Mostly that they have too much sex and are dirty and stupid and lazy. Ron Tataki's A Different Mirror is a great look at American history through the experiences of different non-white groups across the years.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:33 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


10 High-Profile People Whose Degrees Were Revoked (including the two already mentioned)
posted by TedW at 9:34 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]



I'm pretty sure this is universal, especially amongst conservatives. See also: Mitt Romney and his amusingly ironic 47% of the vote share.


In the philosophy of the post-WW2 European welfare-state model, there was no in-group/out-group distinction between recipients and nonrecipients; it was assumed that, at some point in their lives, everyone would need to rely on state assistance of some sort. This has been stripped back under neoliberalism, with state support being largely means-tested, and with stigmatising and humiliating the recipients being an inherent part of mitigating the moral hazard therein.
posted by acb at 9:36 AM on May 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


I haven't read the dissertation, and I don't doubt that it is problematic, but the quoted conclusion ("From the perspective of Americans alive today, the low average IQ of Hispanics is effectively permanent.") is not, on its face, evidence of that. Whatever the value of IQ as a metric, it does have a fairly non-controversial correlation with socioeconomic status. Due to immigration and other issues, a subset of the Hispanic population in the US lives near the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. That this would have an effect on the average for the entire group seems so obvious as to be almost pointless to remark upon. You might as well say that due to the low wages of migrant workers, the average Hispanic wage will be lower. Obvious and meaningless.
posted by Nothing at 9:40 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've come to assume that anything with the word "heritage" in the title is massively racist

So my Black Crim heritage tomatoes are racist?
posted by rough ashlar at 9:42 AM on May 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Your tomatoes are an Institute? Damn, mine sure are underperforming.
posted by aramaic at 9:43 AM on May 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I haven't read the dissertation...

no one has read the dissertation... until now.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:44 AM on May 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Forgive me if this has already been discussed, but I'd swear I've seen something out there which -- in supreme, glorious irony -- at least purports to demonstrate a negative correlation between nativism itself and low IQ.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:48 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is a (seems to be growing) contingent on the right that seems to have sprung directly from the nineteenth century. Their specialty seems to be updating and re-presenting the once-thought-be-dead-and-gone philosophies of eugenecists and robber barons. I'm surprised the virtues of mustache-twirling haven't gotten more press in their publications and seminars.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:51 AM on May 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


Based on the Think Progress "Infighting" article in the FPP, it looks to me like he's the fall guy for the Heritage Foundation not kowtowing to the correct conservative line (Grover Nordquist and Paul Ryan criticized the findings).

Also, the quotes in the Ta-Nehisi Coates article are stunning(ly terrible).
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 9:52 AM on May 14, 2013


Probably twirlable moustaches have an ethnic stigma these days.
posted by elizardbits at 9:55 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


So it appears that the whole GOP "We just need to change our branding with Hispanics" solution to their imminent electoral doom is going swimmingly.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:56 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting this. I was wondering how in arglebarglefuckinghell he got his Ph.D and was wondering if some people at Harvard were pals with with Charles Murray. Sure enough, there he is in his thesis acknowledgements:

"The substance of my work was positively influenced by many people, but no one was more influential that Charles Murray, whose detailed editing and relentless constructive criticism have made the final draft vastly superior to the first. I could not have asked for a better primary advisor."
posted by gamera at 9:58 AM on May 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, I'm most of the way through his actual thesis, because I am apparently a masochist, and... wow. Lost amongst all the discussion of what a racist cockwaffle this guy is, is chapter 6. Chapter 6 sets out a bold proposition:
Generally speaking, a "good" labor market effect from a national perspective is one that generates a large native surplus—that is, extra money accruing to natives because immigrants are in the workforce
This is the chapter whose caveat is "we will ignore all the social consequences of low-IQ immigrants and focus on the effects on the labor market." The guy is starting from the position that the purpose of immigrants is to depress the cost of labor for capitalists, and that you can measure the value of immigration policy based solely on how much it enhances the well-being of natives.

How did this survive a defense? Who was in the panel that didn't tell him that his grasp of basic concepts was sorely mistaken, and bounce him back to Sociology 101?
posted by Mayor West at 9:58 AM on May 14, 2013 [23 favorites]


The protestors mostly ignored the man though some responded by informing him that they too were of Native American descent

Sometimes it seems like every fourth white person in the US is "totally part Cherokee, I swear".
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:59 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I glanced through the dissertation, and came away thinking it was a piece of shit. People who look at it and actually worked hard on their PhD will cry a little inside. I know I did.

The first chapter is a breezy intro. to the history of race and IQ studies, and Richwine spends most of his time arguing with a popular book from 1981, "The Mismeasure of Man" by Stephen J. Gould. It's an amazingly superficial defense of his central assumptions about the validity of race and IQ. It's about 20 pgs. long.

The "meat" of the dissertation (120 pgs.) traces IQs across different ethnicities, their change over generations, and then draws public policy prescriptions. Here you get bullshit that doesn't even belong in a newspaper op-ed, e.g.:

When given the choice between a paycheck from a low-paying job and a welfare check, most intelligent people would realize that the welfare check offers them no potential for advancement. Low-IQ people do not internalize that fact nearly as well.

I can't even count all the stupid and lazy assumptions in a passage like that.

* Intelligence is a tool -- if IQ measures some intelligence capacities, it measures the means for achieving one's desires or goals, it has nothing to do with what one values or desires. High IQ correlates with suicide. It might well be a more intelligent choice for someone unemployed to take unemployment or disability insurance, depending on their goals, job prospects, etc.

* No evidence is presented that whatever "core" intelligence capacities IQ putatively measures actually underwrite the particular choice between a job and "welfare". These kinds of choice are likely massively influenced by social pressures, etc. they're not shape rotating problems. It's just lazy pablum about what seems "smart" and then equating that with g.

Passages like these burn with with non-serious, conservative conventional wisdom. It's the opposite of research and damning evidence that Harvard's dept. of Public Policy prioritizes processing wingnut welfare recipients over scholarship.
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 10:02 AM on May 14, 2013 [29 favorites]


Sometimes it seems like every fourth white person in the US is "totally part Cherokee, I swear".

1/64 baby! Documented.
posted by shothotbot at 10:07 AM on May 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


...less than entirely human, often suggesting that while they can speak a language and experience crude emotions like surprise, rage, desire and such, they are incapable of the more refined forms of subjective experience.

Wait what what are you guys talking about are you talking about me

...have too much sex and are dirty and stupid and lazy.

Guys come on guys why are you talking about me behind my back come on
posted by samofidelis at 10:10 AM on May 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I honestly can't imagine how that dissertation could take more than a year to produce.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:12 AM on May 14, 2013


Also let's face it, "Richwine" is a hilarious last name in this particular context. "Moneybags-Cognac" also acceptable.
posted by elizardbits at 10:12 AM on May 14, 2013 [25 favorites]


Sometimes it seems like every fourth white person in the US is "totally part Cherokee, I swear".

I've spent enough time working with Native American communities to have seen the laughter that this claim provokes. Everyone's heard it and it does not impress them to say the least.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:13 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am 3/32nds Chinese, but any Asian smartness I might have had is probably wrecked by my 50% Bohunk heritage.
posted by rtha at 10:21 AM on May 14, 2013


AEI coddles racists.

I noticed in the interview with Byron York that Richwine (great name!) gave the following as a partial defense for publishing in AlternativeRight, a white nationalist website:

Second, he had met AlternativeRight's founder Richard Spencer at an AEI event.

Who woulda thought you'd meet such a shady broad in a classy joint like this?
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 10:21 AM on May 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I glanced through the dissertation, and came away thinking it was a piece of shit.

I did the same. My field is a little more rigorous, but I can still see how this happens. The committee gets a combative, arrogant little prick who was accepted into the program and got good grades, and now they're confronted with a dissertation that's a pile of shit. They can fail him and risk a nasty fight, or pass him and hope he doesn't damage their reputations. They took the gamble and lost.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:26 AM on May 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


Sometimes it seems like every fourth white person in the US is "totally part Cherokee, I swear".

It's also the preferred easy-out for bigots when discussing any of Society's ills towards minorities: "Slavery reparations? Pfftt! Why should I apologize for something that happened to your ancestors hundreds of years ago? I'm part native-American, and you don't see me asking for handouts!"

If I'm not mistaken, I believe even Archie Bunker claimed partial Indian heritage in an episode of All In The Family.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:28 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sometimes it seems like every fourth white person in the US is "totally part Cherokee, I swear".

Yeah, and imagine their surprise when it turns out that's because their white ancestors were often rapists! /sad trombone
posted by FatherDagon at 10:29 AM on May 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


The committee gets a combative, arrogant little prick who was accepted into the program and got good grades, and now they're confronted with a dissertation that's a pile of shit.

Generally though, the dissertation isn't some kind of surprise thing that a candidate turns in at the end of however long working on it. The guy had to qualify for candidacy, which would mean having a proposal that he would have to defend to his committee, and then pass examinations based on coursework and readings, and then he'd have to have his diss reviewed at multiple points along the way by members of his committee if he wanted to ensure that his defense went smoothly. Granted, these standards are from a different institution, but I hope Harvard is at least as rigorous as San Diego State. So it's much more likely that his committee was fully on board, or at least didn't have ground to fully bounce him.
posted by LionIndex at 10:32 AM on May 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Here's a small blurby thing about the "lower IQ in childhood being correlated (correlated!) with greater propensity toward racism later in life. Also? Homophobia, also appearing to be correlated with lower childhood IQ. From that link:
What this study and those before it suggest is not necessarily that all liberals are geniuses and all conservatives are ignorant. Rather, it makes conclusions based off of averages of groups. The idea is that for those who lack a cognitive ability to grasp complexities of our world, strict-right wing ideologies may be more appealing. Dr. Brian Nosek explained it for the Huffington Post as follows, “ideologies get rid of the messiness and impose a simple solution. So, it may not be surprising that people with less cognitive capacity will be attracted to simplifying ideologies.” For an excellent continuation of this discussion and past studies, please see this article from LiveScience.
posted by bilabial at 10:32 AM on May 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, LionIndex, I think this only makes sense if we assume that Charles Murray had a lot of influence here.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:34 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, way to court that growing Latino demographic, dudes!
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:39 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ron Unz has an interesting take on Richwine's research and the dynamic that falls into what I think are fairly predictable narratives whenever the usual suspects bring up race and IQ and get publicly scorned/shunned for their trouble.

It seems plain to me why conservatives/nativists obsess over race/IQ in ways that are almost always predictable, with motivations that are easy to see. Being scorned/shunned is fine and well deserved, but I think Richwine and his kind need to be seriously challenged, publicly and often, both broadly, and in detail, every time they peek out from under the rocks where they hide.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:39 AM on May 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd like to explain just why IQ is such bullshit, and completely irrelevant for adults.

While you are at it, could you explain why general intelligence scores are such strong predictors for so many sociological outcomes?
posted by Tanizaki at 10:42 AM on May 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Why? These arguments were already debated and debunked years ago. Richwine and his ilk aren't offering anything new.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:43 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


If anyone here is under the impression that PhDs are always given to the best students, with the best papers, after years of toiling that much harder than their peers... I envy you're ignorance.

The Richwines are a big name in many parts of Indiana. For schools like Harvard, it's pretty simple: "Give my kid a PhD, and you get a Silver donor for the new labs."
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:47 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


While you are at it, could you explain why general intelligence scores are such strong predictors for so many sociological outcomes?

Because general intelligence scores are partly determined by ones socioeconomic status and education level, which also determine sociological outcomes.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:47 AM on May 14, 2013 [14 favorites]


While you are at it, could you explain why general intelligence scores are such strong predictors for so many sociological outcomes?

I think (I suspect) that if you ran a multiple regression of intelligence scores on those outcomes controlling for other socio-economic-derived variables, you'd find that general intelligence is only weakly correlated with them.

But I can't prove that. Can you prove that intelligence scores alone are actually so strongly predictive of the outcomes you mentioned?
posted by clockzero at 10:48 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is the chapter whose caveat is "we will ignore all the social consequences of low-IQ immigrants and focus on the effects on the labor market." The guy is starting from the position that the purpose of immigrants is to depress the cost of labor for capitalists, and that you can measure the value of immigration policy based solely on how much it enhances the well-being of natives.

I don't have a PhD, so I'm genuinely looking to people who have: my concept of a dissertation involved the idea that people choose an idea from their own perspective/bias/interest, and then try to find evidence to defend it.

How far off am I? Ie is the problem with this dude's dissertation the fact that he was editorializing/choosing his own priorities, or is the problem just that he's shitty?
posted by corb at 10:49 AM on May 14, 2013


MefIQ is a quotient acquired by dividing the number of favorites with the number of posts.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 10:49 AM on May 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


But perhaps even more to the point, the intelligence scores themselves are probably heavily influenced by SE-derived variables, too. This is why social science is complex: there are many, many complex and complexly interconnected relationships that must be carefully analyzed before we can make strong claims, and most people aren't interested in doing the actual legwork.
posted by clockzero at 10:51 AM on May 14, 2013


my concept of a dissertation involved the idea that people choose an idea from their own perspective/bias/interest, and then try to find evidence to defend it.

Being knowledgeable about research done in your field and judging and choosing topics that are worthwhile based on this knowledge kinda helps. Nobody is dropped suddenly into a PhD program, and asked to choose their pet prejudice as their topic.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 10:52 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Flag and move on folks, you can collectively decide what to not get derailled by]
posted by jessamyn at 10:53 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bathtub Bobsled: "The Richwines are a big name in many parts of Indiana. For schools like Harvard, it's pretty simple: "Give my kid a PhD, and you get a Silver donor for the new labs.""

I didn't realize that at all, which makes my affirmative action plan for racists joke a little too on the nose for my liking.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:53 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


MefIQ is a quotient acquired by dividing the number of favorites with the number of posts.

Favorites or favorited by others? ;)
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:55 AM on May 14, 2013


For a guy trying to make bold pronouncements about IQ, Richwine sure is a dumb son of a bitch.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:57 AM on May 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


corb,

In my world, it is a point of pride that someone could read a dissertation and not be able to deduce what the author's political position is on any tangentially related political topic.

Good research is driven by finding evidence and then drawing conclusions from it.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:58 AM on May 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


Favorites or favorited by others? ;)

See this is why I don't have a PhD. :(
posted by Pyrogenesis at 10:58 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is so much wrong going on here, not only as summarized by Richwine, but all the rich whiners of the world. My perspective comes in part from being half Hispanic.

Latinos are not a race. There is nothing homogeneous about them that could be summed up into a genetic grouping.

Intelligence is such a polygenetic trait that it is absurd to try to divided it up into broad gene pools.

White people do not choose mates based on intelligence, a necessary event to occur over generations in order to create this so-called master race. The intelligent do not necessarily have the most children, another necessary event for this selection to expand.

IQs measure smugness.

Even, even if you delve into the dark pseudo-science of race intelligence measurements there is not such a large difference to merit calling any group stupid - with the possible exception of those who believe the results say something profound - they are stupid.

The whole idea that "that group is a bunch of dumb savages" was invented to rob or enslave "that group." To hang on to the notion and pretend it has scientific meaning is absurd. (Although, if you go back a century, it was common scientific practice to lump groups into being dumber, including Asians, a group that are supposedly smarter today.)

Comparing IQ to race is the work of cowards. Come on, why didn't The Bell Curve go after short people? There is enough evidence that IQ tests say short people have a lower IQ which is proved by their lower social standing and lower earnings. And, you know what, the same prejudices explain both sets of discrepancies.

Let's face it: this is just another honky saying white guys (like me!) are the smartest.

I could go on but the target is easy and I guess I'm being smug (IQ 149). Odd that I was most offended by the stupidity of his arguments rather than the bigotry. The bigotry, I'm used to it.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:59 AM on May 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


I keep seeing "Richwine" as "Rincewind."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:59 AM on May 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


While you are at it, could you explain why general intelligence scores are such strong predictors for so many sociological outcomes?
posted by Tanizaki at 1:42 PM on May 14 [+] [!]


Because generally speaking, if you've grown up eating well and reading books and having access to privilege, you will find a way to maintain that level of privilege.

If it socioeconomic status were sorted out of the scoring...I think it would wash out. The problem is that you can't sort socioeconomic status out of job interviews, court hearings, housing applications, nor interactions with medical professionals or educators.

This is all directly connected to the immigration debate because children with lots of stress in their lives (moving frequently, witnessing violence in home country before emigrating, food uncertainty, etc) don't perform as well as they could on many standardized tests (or frankly, a lot of things! (You tell me how well you'd do in that three o'clock meeting if you had skipped breakfast this morning. And dinner last night. And probably weren't getting lunch....I'll wait.) Access to books has been shown by...somebody...to be the greatest predictor of college graduation.

Additionally, familiarity with the norms of the dominant society are required to perform well on IQ tests as we know them. Social scientists know that use of Standard American grammar does not correlate to intelligence, yet if you don't use the dominant language or have the same cultural background as the test administrator, the test marks you as stupid. If you're new to the country, speak a language other than Standard American English at home, suffer from PTSD, or just don't give a shit about the test you won't look very "smart." And interestingly, those things are all barriers in classrooms and job interviews, regardless of IQ. (see the responses to resumes submitted with names that sound "white" or "male." See JK Rowling being asked not to publish under her name. See every instance of white privilege ever.)

If you have questions about sociological outcomes that I haven't addressed, feel free to ask.
posted by bilabial at 11:05 AM on May 14, 2013 [16 favorites]


Being a supervillain correlates with having a low HQ.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:06 AM on May 14, 2013 [14 favorites]


I mean, it seems likely to me that your average illegal immigrant is going to do worse on IQ tests than your average legal immigrant because the immigration system favors people with advanced degrees - which you need to be good at tests that are not dissimilar to IQ tests to get. Throwing race into the mix is stupid.
posted by Zalzidrax at 11:10 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I kind of wish someone would, once and for all, do a comprehensive examination on a huge and widely-distributed sample of people (ie >1 million), tallying everything: gender, income, occupational field, religion, ethnic composition, cultural background - and yes, IQ score - then cross-indexed the survey with fully sequenced genomes for all participants. Leaving us with - once and for all - a comprehensive source of fully vetted data upon which to attempt to base our frequently misguided assumptions about not just race but people in general in almost every respect conceivable.

I strongly suspect we'd find that there are several genetic markers that correlate strongly with minute boosts in both IQs & income - a few of which would be correlated along racial lines to the extent that our vague notions thereof even have a genetic component, but the overwhelming majority of which would not. Furthermore, I'd put good money on cultural predispositions towards the value of intelligence, education, and successful careers playing the greatest role. Ditto for exponentially increasing chances of mental illness correlating with higher numbers of the genetic indicators for IQ.
posted by Ryvar at 11:13 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Social scientists know that use of Standard American grammar does not correlate to intelligence

I mean honestly it seems that it should not take an actual social scientist to acknowledge this as fact. Do people think that all advanced degrees awarded by foreign nations are done so on the basis of spoken english?

Then again this is America, where if you speak 5 languages fluently but your english is hesitant, you're worthless.
posted by elizardbits at 11:15 AM on May 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


So it's much more likely that his committee was fully on board, or at least didn't have ground to fully bounce him.

Well, I tried to simplify, but yes there were steps, but at each step the dynamic I picture probably played out. I think that's why the responses from the committee (only 3 members? WFT, Harvard?) have been so muted, none defending the research as much as defending academic freedom.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:20 AM on May 14, 2013


I kind of wish someone would, once and for all, do a comprehensive examination on a huge and widely-distributed sample of people (ie >1 million), tallying everything: gender, income, occupational field, religion, ethnic composition, cultural background - and yes, IQ score - then cross-indexed the survey with fully sequenced genomes for all participants.

In my research methods class the first thing we learned was Time and Money.

Every social scientist wants more Time and More money to throw at their work. But, with the Time and Money you do actually have, you squeeze the most you can out of the data available. A million respondents? Ha. Getting people to just take 5 minutes to fill out a card and put it in the mail (we included the postage!!!!) requires rigorous studying to maximize response rate. Wording. Timing. Repeat requests. Follow up phone calls.

People already have enough distrust of the American health care "system" interacting with social science (Tuskegee, coerced abortions and sterilizations, more horrors in the name of science...) that getting anyone to agree to what you're suggesting would be tough. Noble, but really really not easy.
posted by bilabial at 11:21 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


10 High-Profile People Whose Degrees Were Revoked

Most for academic misconduct. One among the ten "listed," plus a few others mentioned in the introduction, is a case of an honorary degree being revoked, which is a different sort of beast. The specific reason for the last revocation in the list is unclear, but given that it was a degree from a Moscow university in the Soviet era, I don't think it's too absurd to think it's because she wasn't toeing the party line.

Academic misconduct, such as plagiarism or falsifying results, should be grounds for revoking a degree. Mere shoddy research or poor reasoning, which seems to be the case here, is something that should be caught by the student's advisor and/or thesis committee at the time, but if it's not (or if it is but they choose to overlook it) that's their fault, and IMO should not be grounds for revoking the degree.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:22 AM on May 14, 2013


...I guess I'm being smug (IQ 149).

Which time you took it? Or is that an average rounded to the nearest who number? I know it can't be the highest you scored...
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:26 AM on May 14, 2013


Can anyone clarify one thing for me? There was a three member committee, yes. But what about opponents? Around here a PhD needs to have two opponents, with their good old task of demolishing your every written and uttered word. One needs to be a renowned expert in the field. Is the system different in Harvard/US?
posted by Pyrogenesis at 11:28 AM on May 14, 2013


Native American Man Tells Anti-Illegal Immigration Protesters Who 'The Real Illegal Immigrants Are'

I was assuming this was the “Robert Erickson” Speech to MN Tea Party Against Amnesty from back in 2009, but I was wrong.

Bully to you, Native Americans, for reminding racists who the invaders are.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:28 AM on May 14, 2013


I guess this is a good opportunity for Richwine to learn that things other than IQ have a pretty big impact on career success.
posted by MetalFingerz at 11:29 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


shothotbot: "The Dark Art of Racecraft"

Worst MMORPG ever!
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:30 AM on May 14, 2013 [14 favorites]


Flipping through this, it's really pretty poor. In one of the tables he takes a ratio of percentages, for goodness sake! I think Mental Wimp is probably right about the dynamic that got this through.
posted by sfred at 11:33 AM on May 14, 2013


The guy had to qualify for candidacy, which would mean having a proposal that he would have to defend to his committee, and then pass examinations based on coursework and readings

Yyyyeah, but.

Formal proposals and defenses are far from universal. Mine went like this:

Me: Bill, I need to schedule a proposal defense soon, what do you need the proposal to look like?
Bill: You don't need to do one.

And comp exams... well... failing someone out of a program at comps is Hard for the same reasons that rejecting someone's dissertation is. A lot of times it might seem easier just to pass him on the comps, hope that you're not the diss chair, and mentally write him off.

and then he'd have to have his diss reviewed at multiple points along the way by members of his committee if he wanted to ensure that his defense went smoothly.

And this varies by student. It's not that weird for a student to just hold off and hold off and OH HAI HERE'S MY DISS HAVE FUN.

I would guess that everyone was kind of holding their nose at it but saw it as not worth raising a fuss about. It's a shame it's so full of HORRIBLE RACISM.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:34 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


How far off am I? Ie is the problem with this dude's dissertation the fact that he was editorializing/choosing his own priorities, or is the problem just that he's shitty?

To re-rail, I think if all the dude had done was write a dissertation that did some statistical regressions on race/immigration/IQ, he might still have his gig. Charles Murray does, after all. It was the fact that he was writing op-eds on white nationalist websites that forced him to resign...or as his thesis advisor put it, the fact that he strayed into policy.

As for the whole IQ debacle, even granting the notion that there's such a thing as general intelligence and that this has some bearing on one's success in life, it's not at all clear that we can measure it well with an IQ test, and it seems manifestly to be the case that cultural influences have a great deal of influence on them...give unto me a child until the age of seven years and let me plunk 'em in prep school, and I'd bet dollars to donuts that even a lunkheads will score far better than the average migrant worker's kid, just from having the experience of that type of testing, the ingrained familiarity with how the test wants you to think, drilled into them. Richwine doesn't seem to have done dick to describe how he was controlling for this...
posted by Diablevert at 11:35 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think its also a given that Richwine was self-funded. No way Harvard is paid for this.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:37 AM on May 14, 2013


I don't have a PhD, so I'm genuinely looking to people who have: my concept of a dissertation involved the idea that people choose an idea from their own perspective/bias/interest, and then try to find evidence to defend it.

How far off am I? Ie is the problem with this dude's dissertation the fact that he was editorializing/choosing his own priorities, or is the problem just that he's shitty?


You're not completely off-track, but the conception articulated here evinces some serious misunderstanding.

First of all, dissertations are the original research in which graduate work culminates: the idea is that the dissertation will be a unique, original contribution to the scholarship of the discipline. It's very demanding and the standards are high: you investigate topics, and present your findings with plausible rival hypotheses taken into account. You don't simply announce a conjecture and then only present evidence that supports it. People certainly choose topics that are of interest to them (dissertations are a lot of long, hard work, and it would be sub-optimal to do that work in an area that didn't interest you!), but "perspective" and "bias" aren't necessarily useful ways of understanding how scholarship itself works.

There can be scholarly and sub-disciplinary perspectives, where perspective means scholarly rather than ideological orientation; for example, looking at home-ownership from a public health perspective (using epidemiological methods) or examining street gangs from an institutional rather than criminological perspectives. What you wouldn't typically find is scholarship being done with any reference to personal rather than professional, scholarly or academic perspectives, which I think might have been what you meant.

As for bias, I would say that academic work above nearly all others is attentive to the question of bias. That's why we do peer review and have multiple scholars involved in dissertation work. That's why we have the scientific method! Does bias exist? Of course, but academia is set up in such a way as to institutionally discourage its establishment and reproduction in a way few other fields of endeavor are.
posted by clockzero at 11:37 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm sure you'd find some high IQ markers Ryvar, but if you then created a clone army with all those markers, don't be terribly surprised if they don't get this comic. There might be single super genotypes out there, but in real life it's going to have a lot more to do with emergent properties, which, until you can truly simulate the system (merely understanding is insufficient) you can't begin to predict.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:38 AM on May 14, 2013


"The Dark Art of Racecraft"
Worst MMORPG ever!


And yet, another Seth McFarlin show on Fox!
posted by rough ashlar at 12:06 PM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The external examiner (brought in at last hurdle, arms length) should have caught whatever major errors there are. Typically they have to provide a detailed written report to the Dean. It would be interesting to see that come to light in this case, or at least know who the external(s) were.
posted by Rumple at 12:30 PM on May 14, 2013


Mr. Richwine! Mr. Richwine! Please help me understand, Mr. Richwine!

I have here a study that attempts to explain the long observed phenomenon of immigrants on the whole having better health status throughout their lives than native Americans.

Here is the recent study, in full:

The Hispanic Paradox and Older Adults’ Disabilities: Is There a Healthy Migrant Effect?

"Abstract: The “Hispanic Paradox” suggests that despite rates of poverty similar to African Americans, Hispanics have far better health and mortality outcomes, more comparable to non-Hispanic White Americans. Three prominent possible explanations for the Hispanic Paradox have emerged. The “Healthy Migrant Effect” suggests a health selection effect due to the demands of migration. The Hispanic lifestyle hypothesis focuses on Hispanics’ strong social ties and better health behaviors. The reverse migration argument suggests that the morbidity profile in the USA is affected when many Hispanic immigrants return to their native countries after developing a serious illness. We analyzed data from respondents aged 55 and over from the nationally representative 2006 American Community Survey including Mexican Americans (13,167 U.S. born; 11,378 immigrants), Cuban Americans (314 U.S. born; 3,730 immigrants), and non-Hispanic White Americans (629,341 U.S. born; 31,164 immigrants). The healthy migrant effect was supported with SES-adjusted disability comparable between Mexican, Cuban and non-Hispanic Whites born in the USA and all immigrants having lower adjusted odds of functional limitations than U.S. born non-Hispanic Whites. The reverse migration hypothesis was partially supported, with citizenship and longer duration in the USA associated with higher rates of SES-adjusted disability for Mexican Americans. The Hispanic healthy life-style explanation had little support in this study. Our findings underline the importance of considering nativity when planning for health interventions to address the needs of the growing Hispanic American older adult population."

From the body of the study:

"In sum, the Hispanic Paradox with respect to functional limitations for older Mexican Americans appears to be due to a combination of self-selection of healthy immigrants (healthy migrant effect) and reverse migration of some ill and/or disabled migrants (Salmon or unhealthy out-migration effect).
Future research should focus on improving our understanding the process of self-selection for those who immigrate to the US and (in the case of Mexican Americans) those who choose to leave the U.S. A better understanding of self-section may help to clarify the Hispanic Paradox by identifying what factors influence better health outcomes in those who migrate to the U.S. Likewise, it is important to look at those who were unsuccessful in immigrating. These avenues for future research should better inform our understanding of the dynamic interplay of barriers to and facilitators of successful immigration, and how these factors influence long-term health and disability outcomes."

In other words, it is the healthiest people who immigrate - including Hispanic immigrants. The explanation proffered is that the demands of immigration select for healthier and more enterprising individuals.

Could you please explain to me - I need help, Mr. Richwine - why it is that the healthiest people are also according to you the stupidest people? Whatever happened to all the research that correlates healthy body with a healthy mind and better health with better intellectual performance? Also, could you explain to me, how the process of immigration places demands on a person to be healthy, and also to be enterprising, ambitious and so forth, but that somehow translates into lower IQ? Please help me understand, Mr. Richwine!

How is it that these immigrants are actually healthier than their ethnic non-immigrant brothers? Does that mean we should select for immigrants and throw natives under the bus?

And while you are explaining this to me, I'd like to help you out with this:

Children of Immigrants Are Coming out Ahead of Their Peers, U.S. Study Finds

"Children of immigrants are outperforming children whose family trees have deeper roots in the United States, learning more in school and then making smoother transitions into adulthood, according to sociologists at The Johns Hopkins University."

Researchers Lingxin Hao and Han S. Woo tracked nearly 11,000 children from age 13 into their early 30s from families with diverse backgrounds. When comparing children with similar socioeconomic status and school conditions, Hao and Woo found that the best students, and later the most successful young adults, were born in foreign countries and came to the U.S. before reaching their teens. American-born children whose parents were immigrants followed closely in terms of achievement.
Hao and Woo found that the advantages were comparable for both Asian and Hispanic children. Their study, "Distinct Trajectories in the Transition to Adulthood: Are Children of Immigrants Advantaged?" appears in the September/October 2012 edition of the journal Child Development.
The study affirms the ideal of the American immigrant success story at a time when immigration is often seen as a problem. Today, almost one quarter of American children are the children of immigrants, based on Census Bureau's American Community Survey 2009, so this study suggests good things for the quality and skill level of the U.S. labor force down the line, said Hao, the study's lead author.
"Our findings challenge the view that children of immigrants are lagging behind children of native-born parents in the transitioning to adulthood," said Hao, a professor of sociology in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins. "Given the same backgrounds, children of immigrants are actually more likely to follow the best trajectory leading to positive early adult outcomes."

Please help me understand, Mr. Richwine, please, please!
posted by VikingSword at 12:38 PM on May 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


"from the dissertation itself: "Christopher Jencks generously signed on as the committee's late addition and offered his own valuable input."

Ah. I see. This almost certainly means the original third member dropped out at practically the last minute and Jencks's stepping in was as much a favor to the department and the committee chair as anything else. (Something similar happened to me with my thesis. I had to arrange a late replacement about a month before the defense.)

In this situation, the late replacement should still read the damn thing, but it's very very unlikely that they would rock the boat by withholding approval (as they would expect the chair to have vetted the work). Which is to say, even if Jencks disagreed with the conclusion it would be normal for him to defer to the chair. (As the latter has, presumably, worked closely with the candidate to ensure that the work was of the appropriate caliber).

Where I Jencks, I'd be mighty pissed at the other guys.
posted by oddman at 12:48 PM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Where I Jencks, I'd be mighty pissed at the other guys.

Not sure about that, but amusingly the Chair of the committee complained to Brad DeLong that someone else was the chair.
posted by shothotbot at 12:56 PM on May 14, 2013


That dissertation reads like a coffee table catalogue for eugenics. "It's not their fault, but we have to remove them from our pool for everybody's sake".
posted by peacay at 1:01 PM on May 14, 2013


So it appears that the whole GOP "We just need to change our branding with Hispanics" solution to their imminent electoral doom is going swimmingly.

How badly is that going?

So badly that the Puerto Rican-descended chairman of the Florida RNC changed political affiliation to the Democrats.
posted by mephron at 1:05 PM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Where I Jencks, I'd be mighty pissed at the other guys. Were I Jencks, I would have said something, done something, to express opposition/concern re approving this dissertation.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 1:08 PM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Immigrants from other more foreign parts of the world aren't dumber or smarter than the average American. What they almost certainly are though is braver.
posted by srboisvert at 1:12 PM on May 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


A comment from Brad DeLong's blog:

"What's striking to me is that two of his readers are in the mid-70's. I'm not an academic, but from people I know who've gone through the process it seems like you usually try to have some committee members who are mid-career who will be around for a few years to advocate for you. Seems like this guy had to scrounge around to find someone to be a reader, and the only two he could find are essentially done with being active academics. That may be a statement about Richwine and his dissertation, but it may also be an indication that Borjas isn't esteemed in the department."
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:12 PM on May 14, 2013


but it's very very unlikely that they would rock the boat by withholding approval (as they would expect the chair to have vetted the work).

In psychology, at least, the chair of a defence is only responsible for running the defence/viva not evaluating the work. They just get it started on time and make sure the rules are followed. The examiners are responsible for the evaluation of the candidate and their work.
posted by srboisvert at 1:15 PM on May 14, 2013


Andrew Sullivan argues that white people are like poodles and black people are like beagles.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:07 PM on May 14, 2013


That Andrew Sullivan piece is actually really interesting: the link posted above is phrased for a fight, but if anyone wants to go directly there Is Christopher Jencks A Racist makes for a fascinating read.
I believe IQ is an artificial construct created to predict how well a random person is likely to do in an advanced post-industrial society.

... Richwine’s dissertation was mainly a quant-job. He comes across in this Byron York interview as a bit clueless – suspiciously so, I’d say – in extrapolating policy conclusions from IQ data in the context of immigration. But the core point about any dissertation is a simple one: does it hold up under scholarly scrutiny? Richard Zeckhauser, the Frank P. Ramsey Professor of Political Economy at Harvard, is on record as saying that “Jason’s empirical work was careful. Moreover, my view is that none of his advisors would have accepted his thesis had he thought that his empirical work was tilted or in error.
So if his work and research is sound, but he uses it to reach racist extrapolations, what then? I'm going to have to read the whole damn thing to see what is actually said, woe. I'm really curious as to what the data actually says.
posted by corb at 2:25 PM on May 14, 2013


Andrew Sullivan argues that white people are like poodles and black people are like beagles.

Is there an award for writing the most deliberately manipulative misreading of an article?
posted by Pyrogenesis at 2:44 PM on May 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


So if his work and research is sound, but he uses it to reach racist extrapolations, what then?

One of the arguments from the anti-racist side of things is that it's almost impossible to do research where the hypothesis is some sort of "X race is quantitatively superior to Y race" in part because of the fraught history of the topic (seriously, your literature review would all be weird racist/eugenics stuff) and also because race is so socially constructed that you're already making a heap of assumptions just to get to the point where you can sort subjects by race in the first place. While it may not be intentionally racist, there are some implicitly racist assumptions about thinking that you can split people up in such a way that you've controlled for all the variables but race. Not in a "omg you're a racist" way but in an "are you sure you've thought this through because this seems sort of racist...." way.

This is not a subject that I have enough background in or willingness to to argue effectively on this topic but it's worth understanding that the entire idea of "But what if something you did in a non-racist fashion turns out to reveal secret qualitative differences between the races?" is a well-worn discussion topic already. It's worth understanding the full scope of what happened with The Bell Curve (who was funding it, how much non-science was in it) which was sort of the thing that kicked off this more recent race+IQ set of debates that we've been seeing over the past few decades.

If figure with more people digging into Richwine's research over the next few weeks we'll be able to get feedback from more people than two out of three of his dissertation committee and get a little more info on the "If his work and research is sound" part of all of this which is I think what I would want before wading much further in.
posted by jessamyn at 3:38 PM on May 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


This Heritage nonsense isn't worth the time to debunk, but I think Mefites still have a fairly naive view of race and intelligence. It can both be the case that "IQ" or any specific measurement of intelligence is culturally constructed/limited and that people can be clustered according to ethnic/genetic backgrounds and those clusters may sometimes correspond with differences in "intelligence" (if you can agree that word has any meaning at all).

Just like the clusters may correspond (imperfectly) with differences in height, pigmentation, disease susceptibility, athletic performance, bone/facial structure, etc.

That doesn't say anything about any individual person or how people should be treated or what their rights are, but it seems really hard to deny that there's some correlation between socially perceived ethnicity, underlying patterns of genetic differences, and resulting patterns of phenotype. Some people seem to just find some aspects of phenotype too essential to our humanity to imagine they could be effected by even the tiniest shred of genetic determinism.

I'd strongly recommend some Steve Hsu for a reality-check - there's some other scientists/geneticists who've made murmurings in this vague direction recently, but I think for good reason no one really wants to stick their head out, so the science is just being published and being allowed to speak for itself.
Our recent evolution, after the dispersal of human populations across the world, was much faster than the evolution of Late Pleistocene populations. In adaptive terms, it is really true -- we're more different from early "modern" humans today, than they were from Neandertals. Possibly many times more different.
posted by crayz at 3:46 PM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Possible issue with the dissertation: p.35-36: a) keeping the extremely low scores (of people who likely didn't even try) but giving them the same score as the expected value for random guessing. b) top-coding educational achievement at grade 12, when it seems highly likely that many kids will work extra hard to get a high-school diploma and thereafter let their algebra get covered with cobwebs.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 4:59 PM on May 14, 2013


Eideteker: "I realize this FPP is more about a Ph.D being awarded for bullshit science, but speaking here as someone who's studied the science of intelligence, I'd like to explain just why IQ is such bullshit, and completely irrelevant for adults. IQ stands for "Intelligence Quotient." A quotient is the result of one number divided by another. In the case of IQ, this is the "intellectual age" of the child, i.e., the age where the child's performance on the test is the average, over the "chronological age" of the child, i.e. the number of years since birth. It is defined as a developmental measure created to predict the performance of children in school, and ceases to have meaning once one is past schooling age."

I don't know why people find it so easy to spread misinformation about IQ tests, even people who have apparently studied intelligence testing. The only parts of this assertion that are true are (a) the fact that IQ stands for "Intelligence Quotient", and (b) the definition of the word "quotient". Everything else has been incorrect for several decades.

Very early IQ tests were designed for measuring scholastic aptitude, and as such the IQ measure was defined by dividing a "mental age" score by a "chronological age" score. In effect, the idea was to try to come up with a measurement that would be comparable for children of different ages. If it were still the 1950s, Eideteker's summary would be correct. However, things have changed somewhat since then. The approach used in modern tests is not unrelated, but it does not involve any kind of "mental age" construct, and it is no less (or more) valid for adults than it is for children. The basic idea is usually that, for any given group (e.g., 12 year old English boys) you want to have a large "norming" sample of people, and the IQ of any given group member is defined only with respect to that group. It's generally considered important to have an appropriate "local" norm to work from, because IQ tests don't seem to be very comparable across demographic lines (random example). As far as age goes, we now have a fair amount of data about how different kinds of IQ subtests behave across the whole lifespan (another random example). Across the full lifespan the changes aren't linear with chronolgical age, nor is the effect the same for all kinds of test. Dividing a "mental age" score by "chronological age" is therefore entirely specious, and there's a very good reason why it's not been the done thing for many decades.

One consequence of all this research into the behaviour of IQ tests is that the work by Richwine linked to in the FPP is highly dubious: it looks to me like he has assumed that it's okay to compare raw test scores for people from different cultural or linguistic backgrounds. This it is not okay. The tests cannot safely be used that way.

However, this does not mean that "IQ is such bullshit, and completely irrelevant for adults". It seems to be very common for people, when shown an example of the misuse of IQ tests, to attack the entire framework of cognitive abilities assessment rather than condemn the specific misuse of the tools. It's important to remember that IQ tests are used for many constructive purposes, most of which don't rely on dubious cross-demographic comparisons. For instance, suppose you want to know the effect of lead poisoning (or whatever) on cognitive functioning in adults. This is kind of an important thing to know about given that we live in a world that has lead smelters. But in order to do so you need some kind of measurement of "cognitive functioning". IQ tests are actually pretty useful for that kind of thing. They provide properly normed tests that cover a fair range of intellectual abilities (though by no means the full range), and as such are really useful tools to have when investigating problems like this one.

I think the problem is that, on the internet, we only ever hear about the misuse of IQ tests. It's not FPP-worthy to announce "study uses IQ test in a responsible way and avoids making racist judgments", so we don't see those studies on MeFi. That's a "dog bites man" story. But when someone does use IQ tests in a racist way (and sadly, there are many people who do), it's all over the internets. But it would be nice to restrict the condemnation to racism and not generalise it to a blanket attack on IQ testing. Or, a bare minimum, if you are going to attack IQ testing, at least do it for the right reasons.
posted by mixing at 5:11 PM on May 14, 2013 [22 favorites]


Sometimes it seems like every fourth white person in the US is "totally part Cherokee, I swear".

Know this kid from Chennai who married this girl from Okhlahoma; she's of partial Cherokee descent herself. Been trying to convince them that when they have kids, they should register the kids' ethnicity as "Indian-Indian".
posted by the cydonian at 10:55 PM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Between this and Niall Ferguson fag-bashing a dead economist and Rogoff/Reinart, I think it's fair to say fuck Harvard.

Seriously, when even librul Harvard is basically shoveling money and prestige to right-wing ideologues and apparently a token leftie who couldn't be bothered to read a dissertation that was literally mentored by Charles fucking Murray it's time to seriously re-think the value of an Ivy League education.
posted by bardic at 11:06 PM on May 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Statistical genetics is really, really complicated stuff, and neither Richwine nor anybody likely to review his dissertation would have anything resembling the background necessary to even begin to approach the topic.
posted by moorooka at 12:39 AM on May 15, 2013


moorooka: "Statistical genetics is really, really complicated stuff, and neither Richwine nor anybody likely to review his dissertation would have anything resembling the background necessary to even begin to approach the topic."

True enough, but you should be aware that Cosma Shalizi isn't actually an expert on IQ, or genetics (as far as I know): he's a statistician, albeit a rather good one. As such, his comments need to be interpreted in light of the expertise that he actually possesses. For instance, his follow up post on this topic, although mostly accurate, is far too charitable with respect to Thompson's "ability sampling" model than is reasonable. He spends a disproportionate amount of time talking about the bloody obvious fact that, if you have lots of tests that draw on a different number of skills, and there are no other differences between tests, then the number of skills that a test draws upon will end up being statistically detectable [1]. This is the only thing that Thompson's model actually proves, and it is exactly as trivial as it sounds. For the most part, that rather infamous series of Shalizi posts to which you have linked is accurate, but the strength of the conclusions that should be drawn from them is massively overstated.

[1] Because I am a statistical pedant... assume there are many independent cognitive abilities, and assume that each test requires competence on some randomly chosen subset (of size N) of these abilities, where the subset is chosen randomly. Given a correlation matrix that describes the relationships between tests and a PCA of said matrix, it turns out (not surprisingly) that the first principal component of that matrix corresponds to N, more or less. Or, to put it in everyday language... some things are hard, and some things are easy, and it's pretty easy to tell which is which. As it turns out, this is a really, really poor model for actual covariance matrices produced by IQ tests, because of the equally obvious fact that some people are good at some kinds of things, and other people are good at different kinds of thing, giving rise to a multifactorial model of IQ testing. Which is exactly what Thurstone demonstrated in 1947. The actual structure of the relationship between tests and abilities has been debated at great length in the last 60 years or so, but is almost entirely absent from the public discussion of the topic.
posted by mixing at 2:01 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gah. Thomson. Not Thompson. I think I'm done with the internet for tonight
posted by mixing at 4:05 AM on May 15, 2013


Gah. Thomson. Not Thompson. I think I'm done with the internet for tonight

Don't worry, it's a mistake that even intrepid Belgian boy reporters/amateur detectives and their foul-mouthed seafaring companions make all the time.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:03 AM on May 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


If figure with more people digging into Richwine's research over the next few weeks we'll be able to get feedback from more people than two out of three of his dissertation committee and get a little more info on the "If his work and research is sound" part of all of this which is I think what I would want before wading much further in.

Which is why a very minimum requirement is peer-reviewed publication and not some dissertation that was reviewed by three committee members with personal stakes in getting doctoral students out the door.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:19 AM on May 15, 2013


The Colbert Report:

Heritage Foundation's Immigration Study: Jason Richwine's 2009 racist immigration paper had no influence on the Heritage Foundation's racist immigration paper co-written by Jason Richwine.
posted by homunculus at 12:26 PM on May 15, 2013


Conservative Anti-Immigration Paper by Controversial Scholar Had Basic Errors

I'm shocked--shocked, I tell you!--to find out that the same people that have been dependent on cooked and/or attributed numbers on austerity policies from the last 5 years would make a mistake like this.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:20 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Inside Story Of The Harvard Dissertation That Became Too Racist For Heritage
posted by homunculus at 1:58 PM on May 22, 2013


Six Reasons Why Race-and-IQ Scholarship is an Intellectual and Moral Dead End (specifically talks about race not gene-pool type research, useful reading)
posted by jessamyn at 2:48 PM on May 22, 2013


Jason Richwine Responds On Race, IQ, And His Dissertation
posted by homunculus at 8:40 PM on May 25, 2013


« Older The Top 5 Beards In (Recent) Surf History...  |  "'If you can't do the time, do... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments