Saturday, May 11, 2013

On IQ, Race, and Jason Richwine.

A young man,  Jason Richwine, just starting out his career, has been forced to resign because of a doctoral dissertation he wrote at Harvard. One presumes, based on experience, that the dissertation was read by an entire committee of tenured academics and approved by them, but now, we discover, from opinionated know nothings on the left, that the the dissertation, which I suspect none of them has actually looked at or read, is evidence of serious Nazi like racism.

And while these sanctimonious airheads strut their stuff in the comments section of various tabloid websites preening themselves with their imagined virtue,  they care nothing about ruining someone's career without so much as allowing him to respond.  Just more canon fodder in the war between right and left over who gets to spend the tax revenues in this country.  This scene, like so many before them, is nauseating.  It is not anything new, this phenomenon.  We saw it in the French Revolution, now celebrated in the movie musical, Les Miserable, where supposedly high ideals lead to mass slaughter based on nothing more than rumours, innuendo and a desire to grab other people's property.

I don't know Jason Richwine and I have not read his dissertation, nor do I intend to.  What I know is that the thing that he is being crucified for, besides having the temerity to challenge the unproven assumptions of corporate capitalists looking for cheap labor and leftwing ideologues looking for votes, is analyzing indisputable statistics.  Yes indeed, people from different ethnic and racial backgrounds do test differently on tests of mental performance.  That is an established fact and has been for at least 50 years.  The only intelligent discourse I have ever encountered about this fact is that written by Thomas Sowell in several different books, most recently, √Źntellectuals and Race

You can actually read a good part of his discussion online by clicking on the image of the book.  I will sum it up for you in a few words-- Sowell surveys the results of a huge variety of mental performance tests sdministered around the world in the last 100 years and concludes that intelligence, whatever that may be and he doesn't know for sure, is  the result of culture and environment as much as of heredity.  He concludes that such tests do predict future academic success with a fairly high degree of accuracy.  Since that is the way in which they are usually used, they are valuable but the studies do not tell us what to do in a policy sense.  There are a number of statistics which pose a serious challenge to any idea that intelligence is linked to race.  Like the hypothesis that all cats have brown eyes is disproven by findig one cat with blue eyes, the hypothesis that race and IQ are linked can be disproven by very few studies showing no such link.  Two that he cites are of black children adopted by white families (average IQ 109) and comparing the IQ's of German children who were the offspring of American soldiers during the occupation and raised by German single mothers-- no discernible difference in IQ.

The problem with this sort of discussion is that, of course, neither side in this mud slinging debate is usually interested in truth.  The leftwing is interested in tarring conservatives with the racist epithet although they can point to no evidence from the dissertation itself showing that.  One commenter who likened Richwine to the eugencists of the early 20th century (who, by the way included Margaret Sanger the founder of planned parenthood and a whole raft of left-wingers) because Richwine advocated an immigration policy skewed toward admitting people who are smart.  My non racist interpretation of that is that he would like to see more immigrants like my daughter in law from India  who has two master's degrees in scientific fields and less of dime store clerks.  My unscientific sample of graduate foreign students in the sciences is that a very large proportion of them are Asian.  So it sounds to me like he wants more of those people admitted and fewer people with less education admitted.  I am not saying he is a right but I fail to see the anti- dark skin color connection.

But what leaves a really sick feeling in the pit of my stomach is the way in which too many of my fellow citizens like to get on a bandwagon and banish people without a hearing, without a trial in order to make themselves feel better.  Too often the result is like what happened to the McMartin pre-school defendants.  The lives of innocent people are devastated because unscrupulous headline seekers rise in self righteous indignation and demand "justice" based on little or no evidence.  And when, after all the wreckage is cleared, it turns out that the condemned were not guilty, they seldom even receive an apology.


No comments: