JASON RICHWINE, a co-author of the widely trashed Heritage Foundation study on the the costs of immigration, "resigned" his post at Heritage Friday after his doctoral dissertation on immigration and IQ fell under a shadow of suspected racism. Harvard awarded Mr Richwine a PhD in 2009 for work arguing that Hispanic immigrants are less intelligent than non-Hispanic white Americans, that this gap has a genetic basis, and that immigration policy should discriminate against less intelligent groups of people, albeit under the cover of the language of "low skill" and "high skill" immigrants. Is this really racist?
Following a useful summary of Mr Richwine's thesis, Robert VerBruggen of National Reviewmakes a plea for letting science, rather than social opprobrium, settle scientific questions:
The Left’s labeling of Richwine’s argument as “racist” is especially dangerous. In modern America it is axiomatic that “racism,” whatever it is, is wrong — and this is a good thing. It therefore is a mistake to define racism to include falsifiable hypotheses in addition to racial hatred. If Richwine’s view is racist, what are we to do if it turns out to be correct?
It's easy to sympathise with Mr VerBruggen's gist. If scientists are to ferret out even uncomfortable truths, they cannot be made to feel that they will be punished for it. Yet racism has always been predicated on falsifiable hypotheses about racial inferiority. No one has defined racism to include the assumption of hereditary racial inequality; that's simply an assumption racists tend to have. If Mr Richwine's view "turns out to be correct", what we are to do is to acknowledge that the racists were right all along—that racism has, to some extent, a valid scientific basis. People are understandably a bit touchy about this possibility. However, the subject is not fraught because "the left" has loaded it with toxic racial politics. It's fraught because the scientific validation of hereditary racial inequality would imply that there's something to be said for the racist convictions that made America's brutal history of slavery, apartheid, and colonial genocide possible. That conservatives have a tendency to minimise the savage enormities of America's racist history, to dismiss even a little interest in it as "political correctness" run amok, helps explain their related tendency to see hostility to work like Mr Richwine's as unduly politicised bullying aimed at shutting down necessary rational inquiry.
Now, I don't think the subject or conclusion of Mr Richwine's dissertation is out of the bounds of reasonable discourse. Yet I think a suspicion of racism is perfectly reasonable. Grad students can choose from an infinite array of subjects. Why choose this one? Who are especially keen to discover a rational basis for public policy that discriminates along racial lines? Racists, of course. Anyone who chooses this subject, and comes down on the side vindicating racist assumptions, volunteers to bring suspicion upon himself, to expose his work to an extraordinary level of scrutiny. Were Mr Richwine's dissertation a model of scientific rigour, he might easily enough survive this scrutiny. However, according to Daniel Drezner, a political scientist at Tufts, it's not exemplary work:
I've perused parts of Richwine's dissertation, and … well … hoo boy. Key terms are poorly defined, auxiliary assumptions abound, and the literature I'm familiar with that is cited as authoritative is, well, not good. It's therefore unsurprising that, until last week, Richwine's dissertation disappeared into the ether the moment after it was approved. According to Google Scholar, no one cited it in the four years since it appeared. Furthermore, Richwine apparently didn't convert any part of it into any kind of refereed or non-refereed publication.
When we come upon a piece of social science that is weakly researched and poorly argued, it's reasonable to suppose that the "conclusion" is actually a fixed point, a presupposition, and that the main body of the work had been contrived to support it. In this light, it's important to remember why Mr Richwine's dissertation became a subject of controversy. Mr Richwine had co-authored an abysmally rigged study with then-colleague Robert Rector that cast Hispanic immigrants as welfare leeches draining the lifeblood from the body politic.
I suspect that Mr Richwine may have been able to survive either controversy taken in isolation. Had he not just argued, in an extremely tendentious fashion, that Hispanic immigrants are, on the whole, parasites, he might have endured public criticism of his dissertation. Had he not in his dissertation argued that Hispanic immigration ought to be limited on grounds of inferior Hispanic intelligence, he would have endured the firestorm over the risible Heritage immigration study, as Mr Rector did. Taken together, however, these two works produce a strong impression of hostility to Hispanics—they're parasitical because they're a bit dim as a breed, you see—which would be very hard to dispel. It's easy to see why Heritage let Mr Richwine dangle.
Nevertheless, Mr VerBruggen, sees "a shocking unwillingness on the part of Heritage to stand up to bullying and protect the academic freedom of its researchers". Michelle Malkin says that Mr Richwine was "strung up by the p.c. lynch mob for the crime of unflinching social science research", which she finds "chilling, sickening and suicidal". This sort of indignation speaks more to the right's failure to take seriously the history and reality of American racial injustice than it does to Mr Richwine's fate. As long as conservatives are inclined to think that Mr Richwine was "bullied" and "lynched" for his brave empiricism, instead of having been sunk by the repugnant prejudice exposed by the shoddiness of his work, non-white voters will continue to flock to a party less enthusiastically receptive to the possibility of their inferiority.
Upgrade your inbox and get our Daily Dispatch and Editor's Picks.
WASHINGTON - A conservative researcher's 2009 dissertation, which argued that Hispanic immigrants to the U.S. have substantially lower IQs than whites, put one of the biggest opponents to an immigration reform bill in Congress on the defensive on Wednesday.
The dissertation by Jason Richwine, then a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University, argues that "[n]o 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. From the perspective of Americans alive today, the low average IQ of Hispanics is effectively permanent."
The Washington Post first reported on Richwine's dissertation on Wednesday morning.
Richwine is now a quantitative analyst at The Heritage Foundation, and he was listed as a co-author on a paper the foundation released this week chronicling the potential economic costs of the the immigration bill currently being considered in the Senate.
Heritage and its president, former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), are leading the charge against the Senate proposal. But the foundation worked to distance itself from Richwine Wednesday in response to the dissertation, trying to salvage the reputation of the paper that Richwine co-authored with Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at Heritage.
"We believe that every person is created equal and that everyone should have equal opportunity to reach the ladder of success and climb as high as they can dream," Heritage said in a statement released by spokesman Mike Gonzalez.
Richwine was not at Heritage when he wrote the paper. In the acknowledgments section of his dissertation, he thanked the American Enterprise Institute, another conservative think tank in Washington, "for its generous support, without which this dissertation could not have been completed."
Richwine was a dissertation fellow at AEI prior to coming to Heritage in 2010, according to his Heritage bio.
"We welcome a rigorous, fact-based debate on the data, methodology, and conclusions of the Heritage study on the cost of amnesty. Instead, some have pointed to a Harvard dissertation written by Dr. Jason Richwine," Heritage said in its statement. "Dr. Richwine did not shape the methodology or the policy recommendations in the Heritage paper; he provided quantitative support to lead author Robert Rector. 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," Heritage said in its statement.
Richwine said lower IQs among Hispanics in the U.S. were caused in part by genetics, though he said that "the extent of [genetic] impact is hard to determine."
On page 88 of his dissertation, Richwine included a section on "the growing Hispanic underclass." Heritage's paper takes the position that undocumented immigrants who are currently in the country would be a burden on the U.S. safety net and welfare programs if they were to be given citizenship.
An underclass, Richwine wrote, is "a socially isolated group of people for whom crime, welfare, labor force dropout, and illegitimacy are normal aspects of life." He argues that his data shows that "Hispanic immigrants come [to the U.S.] to work, but their children's labor force participation slips considerably."
"Superior performance on basic economic indicators is to be expected from later generations, who go to American schools, learn English, and become better acquainted with the culture," Richwine wrote in the dissertation. "Despite built-in advantages, too many Hispanic natives are not adhering to standards of behavior that separate middle and working class neighborhoods from the barrio."
"There can be little dispute that post 1965-immigration has brought a larger and increasingly visible Hispanic underclass to the United States, yet the underlying reasons for its existence cannot be understood without considering IQ," Richwine wrote.
Richwine's argument was that lower-IQ Hispanics are the ones who have come to the U.S., while Hispanics with higher IQs have remained in their countries of origin because they have better employment and financial prospects. The result is a situation in the U.S. where children of first-generation immigrants fall behind in U.S. schools and develop an anti-social attitude toward school work, he argued.
Lower-IQ individuals, Richwine also wrote, are more likely to accept government handouts.
"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," he wrote.
Richwine's full 166-page paper has not been posted online until now.
Read the full paper here:
IQ and Immigration Policy - Jason Richwine by HuffPost Politics