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Race/IQ: the Jason Richwine Affair
Amid the fury over the ex-Heritage staffer's work the question to ask is: was he right?
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Amid loud cries of “Witch! Witch! Burn the Witch!” an enraged throng of ideological activists and media pundits late last week besieged the fortress-like DC headquarters of the conservative Heritage Foundation, demanding the person of one Jason Richwine, Ph.D., employed there as a senior policy analyst. The High Lords of Heritage, deeply concerned about any possible threat to their million-dollar salaries, quickly submitted, though they waited until late Friday, the dead-zone period of national news coverage, before announcing that young Dr. Richwine had been expelled into the Outer Darkness.

Only a week earlier, Richwine had reached a pinnacle of his career, listed as co-author of a widely trumpeted Heritage research study demonstrating that Congressional passage of proposed immigration reform legislation would cost American taxpayers some six trillion dollars…or perhaps the figure was six quadrillion dollars.

But then some enterprising journalist discovered the dreadful evidence of Richwine’s horrific heresy, namely that his 2009 doctoral dissertation at the Harvard Kennedy School had focused on the very low IQs of those racial groups providing most of our current immigrants, with his conclusion being that such inflows must be halted lest American society be dumbified into disaster. Taken together Race and IQ constitute an exceptionally volatile mix in modern American society, and ignited by a six trillion dollar spark, the resulting explosion blew Richwine out of his comfortable DC employment.

Now it seems to me that Heritage’s reaction was a bit difficult to justify. After all, the title of Richwine’s dissertation had been “IQ and Immigration Policy” perhaps providing some slight hint that his topic had something to do with IQ and immigration policy. So the inescapable conclusion is that Heritage was perfectly willing to employ someone with Richwine’s racial views but only so long as the media and the public remained unaware. Last week the media found out, hence exit young Richwine.

However, the behavior of Richwine’s mob of media-tormenters seems just as reprehensible. Glancing over a few of the multitude of denunciatory columns I see little sign of any serious attempt to rebut rather than merely vilify poor Richwine. His attackers seem horrified that anyone might dare believe such heretical notions, rather than whether those beliefs are correct or incorrect. This absurd situation has certainly been noted by Richwine’s own legion of determined defenders, with blogger Steve Sailer citing this case as a perfect example of the recent American tendency to “speak power to truth.”

But in the famous words of Talleyrand, the approach followed by Richwine’s critics “was worse than a crime, it was a blunder.” When a Harvard Ph.D. makes extremely controversial claims about race and intelligence and the main response is to lynch the messenger rather than dispassionately refute the message, the natural conclusion of reasonable onlookers is that Richwine may have been “politically incorrect” but he was factually correct. For example, David Weigel’s lengthy discussion in Slate seems to imply this perspective, and how can anyone blame him? If race and IQ constitute the sort of intellectual pornography never to be candidly discussed in respectable company then the primary sources of information and opinion become small brown-paper-wrapper websites, whose opinions on such ideologically-charged topics may or may not be wholly reliable.

I suspect that Weigel is merely one of many prominent journalists and media pundits who draw important portions of their world view from furtively exploring the nether regions of the Internet. After all, our reigning academic orthodoxy has insisted for decades that “race does not exist,” a scientific claim roughly equivalent to declaring that “gravity does not exist.” Hence, many younger journalists have come to doubt this palpable absurdity, and may often seek transgressive truths by reading the perspectives of various racialist bloggers, who unfortunately are often just as ignorant and mistaken as their orthodox opponents. The Washington Post and are sister publications and there was the amusing spectacle of bloggers David Weigel and Jennifer Rubin taking diametrically opposite positions on the Richwine controversy, although neither apparently has the scientific or quantitative background necessary to evaluate the actual issues under dispute.


Having thus sketched the political atmospherics of the Richwine Affair, including the bad and self-damaging behavior of so many participants on all sides of the controversy, I should also discuss the substantive issues, namely whether Richwine’s views are right or wrong, and also my impression of the general quality of his scholarship in advocating them. My own background is in the hard sciences, and I prefer determining reality based on evidence and quantitative data rather than from ideological first principles. Personally, I’m less interested in whether Richwine’s views are “incorrect” than whether or not they are correct.

My first substantial encounter with Richwine came in early 2010 when I published a major article arguing that Hispanic crime rates in America were roughly similar to those of whites of the same age, a claim that naturally ignited a firestorm of hostility from various rightwingers. Although most of the attacks were merely vituperative, Richwine had recently undertaken major research on exactly that same topic and had come to polar opposite conclusions, so he soon became my strongest analytical opponent, resulting in a long series of very productive exchanges. Although he confined his critique to just one of the three or four major pillars of my case, he initially made some effective points. But after several rounds of debate and the discovery of additional evidence from California, I think most impartial observers concluded that my analysis was almost entirely correct. I urge all interested parties to read my original article and the series of lengthy exchanges with Richwine and others, and then formulate their own conclusions.


Richwine’s behavior during this lengthy debate was exemplary and the exchanges proved very useful in extending my own analysis. And later that year we were both invited to reprise our arguments in a public debate at a major anti-immigrationist conference, where I met him for the first time.

As I mentioned earlier, an unfortunate consequence of Richwine’s intellectual martyrdom may be the widespread assumption among uninformed journalists that his various theories were probably correct, and indeed Weigel states that Richwine “demolished” my own analysis of Hispanic crime. But that is Weigel’s own error and I tend to doubt that he either read my article or the subsequent exchanges with Richwine before making such an erroneous claim. Perhaps the current controversy surrounding these racial issues may prompt the major media to more carefully compare my own arguments with those of my opponents, carefully weigh the evidence, and then bring the important conclusions to much wider public attention.

With regard to Richwine’s IQ arguments, last year I published a major 7,500 word article on exactly the same topic of Race/IQ, arguing that there was overwhelming evidence that the IQs of various ethnic groups were far more malleable and environmentally influenced than is widely believed by many of those interested in the topic. Once again, this article provoked a vast outpouring of angry commentary from various rightwing bloggers and pundits, probably the most uniformly hostile reaction I’ve ever received to anything I’d written. I responded to my multitude of critics in a long series of columns, totaling perhaps another 15,000 words. By the time the debate wound down, I think the accumulated evidence in favor of my position was absolutely decisive, and several of my strongest early opponents privately told me so, though I’m sure many of my angriest critics will never admit that.

Unfortunately, the mainstream media timorously avoided this explosive subject and almost entirely ignored the many tens of thousands of words produced during the long debate. Once again, perhaps the current Richwine controversy will provide the media a second opportunity to objectively review the topic and bring the important facts to a wider audience.

Richwine himself had not participated in last year’s heated Race/IQ debate and at the time I was only vaguely aware of some of his previous work on that topic. But the question of Mexican-American IQ was an important focus of my own analysis and taken together with some additional evidence that came out during the course of the debate, I would argue that the conclusions Richwine formed in his doctoral dissertation are almost certainly incorrect.

Obviously, it would be absurd for me to attempt to summarize nearly 25,000 words of my arguments in just a few sentences, and I urge all interested parties to read my material and decide for themselves whether my arguments are persuasive. But after quickly reviewing major sections of Richwine’s controversial doctoral dissertation, I would like to make a few important points.

First, he argues that the large IQ deficit of impoverished Hispanic immigrants is likely to inflict a long-term social disaster upon American society. However, it is well known that nearly all previous immigrant groups—southern and eastern Europeans—who came here in poverty similarly scored very low on IQ tests in the decades after their arrival, with results that were sometimes far below those of today’s Mexican immigrants. Yet after a generation or two their tested intelligence had almost invariably converged close to the American mean. Evidence of the past does not necessarily predict the future, but such a strong historical pattern should leave us cautious about assuming it will not continue.

In fact, Richwine specifically discusses the famous study by Carl Brigham, who concluded on the basis of the tests taken by WWI recruits that southern and eastern Europeans were drastically inferior in innate mental ability to America’s mostly northwestern European population and argued that their continuing immigration would produce a national disaster. Richwine rather cavalierly dismisses this historical analysis as having been based on poor testing methods and probably motivated by a belief in “bizarre…racial categories.” But Brigham was a highly regarded psychometrician and his careful research was widely accepted by nearly all the leading experts of that time. Having carefully read his book, I cannot find any serious fault with his methods nor any indications of unscientific bias on his part. Brigham may have been mistaken in his conclusions, but they seem to have been based on the best evidence and theory of his day.

Furthermore, Richwine chooses to ignore a vast amount of additional evidence from that same period, much of which was collected in Clifford Kirkpatrick’s important 1926 academic monograph “Intelligence and Migration.” Kirkpatrick provides page after page of separate studies demonstrating that during the 1920s the tested IQs of American schoolchildren of Greek, Slavic, Italian, and Portuguese ancestry were usually in the 75-85 range, and that Jewish schoolchildren sometimes performed just as poorly. These results are hardly obscure since they have been cited for decades by Thomas Sowell, and I think it is a serious scholarly lapse for Richwine to have essentially ignored them. Perhaps he simply believes that all IQ experts of a century ago were frauds and their empirical work should be dismissed, but if so, he should explicitly make that argument. Otherwise, we must accept that southern and eastern European immigrant groups had very low IQs a century ago and have average ones today, which is an extremely important finding. In fact, I have demonstrated that there is overwhelming evidence that various other group IQs have risen rapidly over time, and I also provided some strong indications that this exact process is already occurring among today’s Hispanic immigrants.


On another matter, Richwine must be aware that Arthur Jensen and Hans Eysenck rank as two of the greatest figures in twentieth century psychometrics. Yet decades ago both these scholars reviewed the structural evidence of Mexican-American IQs, and reached conclusions almost identical to my own, namely that the acknowledged gaps to white intelligence scores were largely perhaps almost entirely due to environmental factors and would steadily disappear as the population became more affluent and acculturated. Scientists should not argue from authority and Jensen and Eysenck might certainly have been mistaken, but it seems unreasonable for Richwine to never mention their contrary analysis.

Richwine’s doctoral work was performed at Harvard’s Kennedy School for Public Policy, which is separate from the main graduate school containing academic disciplines such as evolutionary biology, psychology, and sociology. The typical Kennedy School graduate receives a Masters Degree in Public Administration, and is often a mid-career government official, seeking to burnish his academic credentials. The three faculty members who evaluated Richwine’s dissertation—George Borjas, Richard Zeckhauser, and Christopher Jencks—are noted social scientists, but with the possible exception of Jencks, who was apparently a late addition, none seems to have a strong background in IQ issues; otherwise, they surely would have brought the facts I have cited above to Richwine’s attention and required him to properly address them. And once the media mob began baying for blood, Richwine’s advisors immediately backpedaled on any familiarity with IQ issues and quickly disassociated themselves from the dissertation they themselves had approved.

Again, the fault is less Richwine’s or that of his advisors than the totally taboo nature of the topic in question. Even given the best of intentions and effort it is difficult to undertake solid research in a subject that few are willing to discuss in public and one in which there exists such widespread misinformation.

Several months ago a prominent liberal academic with whom I’ve become a bit friendly was horrified by my article speculating on the Social Darwinist roots of Chinese success, pointing out that my analysis so sharply deviated from the established description of reality promoted by Stephen Jay Gould. He also mentioned that several of his friends wondered why I seemed so “obsessed” with race. I would argue that racial issues are an interesting and important subject, especially in a country as racially diverse as our own, but another factor behind my focus has been what I see as a dangerous vacuum of calm and reasonably informed discussion. After all, if I don’t write about Hispanic crime, I shudder to think who else will.

Perhaps our major media might use the opportunity of this current controversy to begin covering racial subjects in a manner more substantive and thoughtful than just quoting endless exchange of smears and slurs. If so, then the intellectual martyrdom of Dr. Jason Richwine may have served a useful purpose.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
The Race/IQ Series
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  1. B.B. says:

    Ron Unz said:
    But Brigham was a highly regarded psychometrician and his careful research was widely accepted by nearly all the leading experts of that time.

    Mark Snyderman & Richard Herrnstein paint a significantly different picture of the reception of Brigham’s work in their article Intelligence Tests and the Immigration Act of 1924.

  2. TomB says:

    You’re doing a great public service by writing this sort of thing, Mr. Unz. Showing, that is, that someone can write with nuance of all the ins and outs of the basic issues, and have respect for those who disagree with them upon same.

    Indeed in a way it strikes me that your doing on this issue is similar to what the Am Con does with any number of others, where you come here just simply for the pleasure of hearing others’ points of view not easily (if at all) found elsewhere, respectfully if still stoutly stated, with most everyone seemingly committed to the idea of first at least just simply listening.

    Good work.

  3. IQ scores have indeed been rising over time, which belies the idea that they are dominantly genetic. Indeed I’ve read some interesting theories that high IQ is the genetic norm, and that various environmental factors such as a low-enrichment environment, stress, and/or environmental exposures are what can lower IQ potential. Then there are the basic problems of any set of data: sorting out causation versus correlation and controlling for other factors – for example, are people of a particular race of lower intellectual ability, or are people of a particular race simply at higher risk of being raised in unstable low-enrichment environments? And what does IQ really tell us anyway? To what extent does it correlate to success? How much more bearing do other factors have?

    However, the main problem with this entire body of research is that it is necessarily political, race being a huge part of our political history. The actual scientists may sit around discussing implications politely, with the proper humility towards what the data can and can’t give us. However, loads of other people are going to take this data and run off a cliff with it. Some will conclude that IQ is inborn and immovable and that there is no reason to really try to improve the education or environment of poor inner city minority children. That’s racism. Others, meaning well, will point at the serious problems of these children being raised in violent unstable conditions packed in with crowds of other children with no experience of better ways of life to aim for. However, the decent people trying to raise or educate these children against very long odds, people who are often of the same racial backgrounds, will have a very human response and take it personally. The very common end result is overreaction, on all sides, accusations of racism, and a general shouting match which will convince no one of anything. This being the internet, the whole thing inevitably dissolves into comparisons to Hitler.

    Counterproductive, in short.

    The conservative thing here would be to remember humility and charity. Enough to recognize where debating this debate will most likely end, regardless of your intentions, enough to give people on the other end of the issue the benefit of the doubt, enough to consider the merits of refraining from the debate. Maybe in another generation, we will be in a better place to discuss this. Maybe we will also understand better the genetic and environmental factors of intelligence, and how to measure and cultivate it, and how much weight to give it over and against other psycho-social measures.

    But if you all insist on having this particular knock-down drag-out fight now, you will attract the actual and pseudo racists into the commentary, and the resulting melee will repel many people and discredit in their eyes even the great things you have to say: and there are important things discussed here like criticisms of foreign policy adventurism and overweening individualism.

    As it stands, I now find myself leery of the whole site. Because this is not the first time the conversation’s taken a turn south on this topic. The “it’s just to stick it to political correctness!” argument does nothing to address the difficulties I’ve just pointed to. But I’ll give it some time, see what else is said over the next few days, before I move on.

  4. M_Young says:

    Unz is probably at least half wrong. After all, the NAEP gap between whites and ‘Latinos’ in the SouthWest is constant in nearly every state over the last 2 decades. That is true even in California, where we now have children who have spent their entire educational career under the ‘English for the Children’ regime. Further, and increasing proportion of these children are second and third generation. Yet the gap remains.

    The only exception is Texas, where there is some slight lessening of the gap; but Texas apparently excludes a lot of students from NAEP testing– that may have an effect if more ‘Latinos’ are being excluded than whites.

    But even if Unz is entirely correct, as a policy matter the Unz position — that mass immigration is hunky-dory because average Mexican-American cognitive ability will converge to the white mean over generations — depends on stopping Mexican immigration. Otherwise we will have a continual input of lower IQ folks.

    • Replies: @michael
  5. Thanks for your reasoned and dispassionate evaluation.

    However, just as with religion, the scientism that substitutes for it today, the concern for most people tends to be to use a only afacsimile of reason, no matter how sophisticated, to buttress and justify what their emotional makeups and desires already have them wanting to believe.

    That here is another white guy “finding” that the groups he’s writing about in the context of whether they should be allowed substantial rights equal to his own just happen to be less intelligent, is just all too politically predictable, especially given that the group he works for. mostly all white, also believes this. Dog bites man. One cannot possibly imagine he would have worked there if he had found, say, the opposite.

    Were this not so, that they are hardly disinterested scientists, they would be making Ron Unz serious offers he couldn’t refuse to do research – wherever it might lead.

  6. Just to add some context to the discussion I’ll leave this with all my fellow readers here:

    and I’ll ask that you reflect on the last 100 years or so of history and the concept of “race” and all its wonderful gifts to humankind.

  7. soren says:

    “namely that the acknowledged gaps to white intelligence scores were largely perhaps almost entirely due to environmental factors and would steadily disappear as the population became more affluent and acculturated. ”

    Hmmm… whites who quality for lunch assistance score the exact same as Hispanics who don’t quality for lunch assistance on the NAEP exam.

    For the California CSTs, non-economically disadvantaged hispanics just barely outscore economically disadvantaged whites.

    All links taken from this Ed Realist post:

    I can’t find one, but I’d love to see an SAT or ACT chart breaking things down by race and family income. I’ve seen multiple ones out there comparing the white-black gaps for race and income.

    I don’t see the White-Hispanic gap ever completely closing, but I do wonder if the White-Hispanic gap will ever be smaller than the Hispanic-Black gap.

  8. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The problem with “seriously rebutting” certain assertions is that doing so grants the assertion a certain level of credibility to begin with. This is not an intellectual conversation between academic peers — it cuts to the heart of power and control, especially the power to tell others who they are and can be. Since conservatives believe people are SELF-DEFINING and creatures only only of God, no other human being, it’s not surprising that this topic causes cries of “hypocrisy!” against right wingers. Forget the academic approach. Look at the presumption underneath — that one human, or group of humans, can define the limits and purposes of other humans, using whatever justification is convenient. Those “definers” thus “create” the others in their own image (the image they have in their mind). However the research is tilted, it’s playing God over others. THAT is the issue. And that’s why people have no interest in “seriously rebutting.” How are you supposed to rebut those who believe they have God’s power to define others? It would be a pointless exercise because it’s not about the others — it’s about the elevated position the definer is able to occupy.

  9. vandelay says:

    Maybe you didn’t read Weigel all that closely. that piece in particular, and his work in general, has a sheen of sympathy for conservatives, but he never actually supports them, and he packs every article and blog post with winks to the liberal milieu that he’s trying to insinuate himself into. They know he’s really one of them.

  10. Spartacus says:

    Mr. Unz wrote: “By the time the debate wound down, I think the accumulated evidence in favor of my position was absolutely decisive, and several of my strongest early opponents privately told me so, though I’m sure many of my angriest critics will never admit that.”

    I don’t follow this issue very closely, but my understanding is that Mr. Unz’s conclusion is perfectly consistent with all the peer-reviewed publications on this topic. So why, then, must Mr. Richwine’s critics continue to dispassionately refute his message? We don’t dispassionately refute the claim that that the Holocaust never happened; we dismiss its deniers out of hand with the disrespect we they deserve.

    Both Richwine’s supporters and the Heritage Foundation want people to take this immigration study seriously even though it was based on the contributions of someone who still believes and argues something that all serious researchers know is false. Should a climate denier’s study arguing CO2 emissions are good for the environment be taken seriously?

    • Troll: GazaPlanet
    • Replies: @lavoisier
  11. It is not hard to imagine that ethnicity, color have correllations to IQ – depending on the definition of IQ. The standard IQ exams are social constructs.The level of exposure by people of color or ethnic populations newly arriving make it easy to understand that continued exposure to the material contained in such intelligence matters is cause for increased scores over time.

    There is obvious some genetic occurance to intelligence, but it is not imbedded in skin color or ethnicity. The savant’s are perfect examples. Can’t tie a shoe, but brilliant mathmeticians or musicians, etc.

    Nature has not selected whites, browns, or any other color as the bearer’s of the gift of genius or higher IQ via some genetic marker. That evidence is rather ‘skint.’

  12. What an incredibly unwholesome response by the Heritage Foundation. In the discussion of ideas whether right or wrong to dismiss a person on the outcry of emotional response — seems counter to who they are and should represent as an institution of intellectual argument and discussion. (that is what I mean by unwholesome).

    Even if they bowed to donor pressure.

  13. M_Young says:


    The TNC article is just a bunch of supposedly shocking quotes. But a lot of them are exactly correct. For example, the ‘old stock’ Americans are now completely excluded from the Supreme Court — they have been displaced by the ancestors of the then (1910 or so) immigrants.

  14. AC says:

    Yes, nothing helps provide context better than the perspective of a Howard grad who’s the offspring of a Black Panther; Lord knows the Panthers have always taught the folly of “identifying race”. Thanx for the helpful link.

  15. But Hispanics are not a race. I’m not denying races, though I doubt they are as quantifiable as gravity. And I believe it’s as legitimate to look into differences between ethnic groups as between races. But shouldn’t we use correct terms?

  16. NGPM says:

    Some serious misinformation gets plied around here:

    As for the Flynn effect, of course IQ scores are going to go up over time. This is because the test is learnt over time as it is disseminated. All tests have a cultural aspect to them and there is no “perfect” test: any test, including a test for color blindness, can be learnt. Obviously IQ is going to be more iffy than color perception, since there is greater incentive to cheat on and/or attempt to learn the former test.

    Psychometricians are aware of this. In fact it is not IQ that matters but g, or raw intelligence. IQ scores are only useful comparatively, that is insofar as they are used to place individuals on percentiles and rankings with respect to a median and standard deviation, and they are not valuable unless they are correlated to measurable abilities. (Reliable IQ test scores are. The U.S. military will not recruit candidates who score more than one standard deviation below the median and the two instances they experimented with lowering this threshold led to dismal failure.)

    Then we get to the question of whether g happens to be heritable. Both IQ skeptics and the White Nationalists who cite IQ as justification for their racist ideals (neither of whom are usually deeply involved in the field of psychometrics, I might add) do not appear to acknowledge that the nature/nurture debate is no longer of great interest to most researchers in psychometrics, biology or zoological behavior: even a highly genetically-loaded trait such as eye color still assumes certain environmental inputs such as oxygen, water and nutrient levels, and even the highly nurturing environment of his loving parents could not teach the unfortunate cortex-less child Nicholas Coke (God rest his soul) how to do Infinitesimal Calculus.

    Furthermore, behavior and personality are heritable in ways that go beyond genetics. Even IF we supposed that the genetic codes for neurological functionality were identical in all human beings (something I seriously doubt), we could still expect to see large variations in human intelligence on the basis of home life and education, differences which after a certain age may not be corrigible if the functionality of the brain and the expression of the relevant genes is affected by the environment. (The brain DOES stop growing and developing after a certain age.)

    Critics might be left arguing that there is no such thing as differences in intelligence from one person to another, but at that point I think we are entitled laugh them off the field.

    As for Ron Unz, he is a physicist by education and no doubt one of great intelligence and many qualities, but the fact remains that he is not writing in his field of expertise here, and it shows. One example: he uses IQ developments dating from the 1920s as an analogy for a present situation, perhaps unaware that IQ tests have evolved considerably, namely to thin out as much as possible cultural and linguistic aspects and focus on cognitive power and puzzle-solving. (An IQ test administered in English, for example, can only be used to rank the relative abilities of fluent English speakers, and even then, care must be taken to avoid material that would skew the test in favor of native English speakers, for example by offering a question the resolution of which hinges on a “play on words.” On the other hand, hard factual knowledge IS one aspect of raw intelligence, but it is quite a chore to construct a test that makes sure to test it as ONLY ONE.)

    As for Richwine, I effectively ignore anything that comes from the Heritage Foundation (or for that matter any other lying shill-front for the lobbying industry that tries to pass for the “American Conservative Movement”) and had never heard of him before today, so I have no comment. I can only observe that the onus is on the advocates of mass immigration to show that Hispanics and other Third-Worlders can be assimilated to Anglo-American norms, and even if they do succeed, I am willing to argue that it is not necessary or desirable that we assimilate them.

  17. Well-fed Americans often lose sight of the fact that people from almost all other countries have much less access to cheap protein than we do. Feed the body – feed the brain.

    Also, most immigrants are brought here to work in our bountiful agricultural sector. We really don’t need any more lawyers and professors of Romance Languages.

  18. “even though it was based on the contributions of someone who still believes and argues something that all serious researchers know is false.”

    The level of PC rightthink being spouted in the comments here is embarrassing. All “serious researchers” do not know it is false. In fact, all serious researchers know it is a well established fact. But even if we give Spartacus the benefit of the doubt and allow that there is still some debate, at the very least, it is not “known” to be false, that is gross hyperbole. The PC addled brain simply believes what it wants to believe.

  19. “Both Richwine’s supporters and the Heritage Foundation want people to take this immigration study seriously even though it was based on the contributions of someone who still believes and argues something that all serious researchers know is false.”

    In addition, let’s say just for the sake of the argument that Richwine did hold beliefs that the guardians of the conventional wisdom deemed icky. Like maybe if he was a vaccine skeptic or he didn’t like floride in the water or he’s a birther or whatever. So what? What would that have to do with the accuracy of his number crunching in an article about the economic impact of immigration? Ad hominem anyone? The accuracy of his number crunching rises and falls on the accuracy of his number crunching, but this is a concept that the PC addled mind can’t understand. For them, it’s all about the rightthink. Once you have uttered crimethink you’re a thoughtcriminal who must be punished.

  20. Frederick says:

    The question too few are asking is why we trust IQ scores as a sufficient measure of intelligence at all.

  21. AC,

    I note how significant the Panther’s have been in oppressing people because of the melanin content of their skin. Their record is impressive. Very impressive indeed.

    Especially when one active chooses to ignore every other instance in recent history, to say nothing of the history of the United States.

    Make sure you don’t walk off any cliffs with those blinders on AC. I wouldn’t want you to get hurt.

  22. Dahlia says:

    Of all the things I’ve read in this debate, the thing that has jumped out at me most, has nothing to do with the subject: Weigel’s assertion that Unz was demolished vis a vis the Hispanic crime debate by Richwine.
    That is just an odd statement for a center-Left pundit to make. And there is no doubt that Weigel, Journolist, is on the Left. Tantalylizing possible answers:
    a. He followed the debate and believed Richwine won.
    b. Someone he trusts followed the debate and believed Richwine won.
    c. He likes Richwine and was biased.
    d. He spends a whole lot more time in the Steveophere than we think, LOLOLOLOL!!!

    Not important, just kinda interesting 🙂

    Ron, I believe you came out on top on the crime thing and said so at Steve’s in a Mea Culpa comment. I also have the same beliefs as you on intelligence.
    I am far more sanguine, however, on whether we can have equality of intelligence or something close to it. Forget about ethnicity for a moment.
    As long as we have monogamy, we will have a color hierarchy; it’s been something to see it asserting itself even, especially?, in the age of globalism. It’s a sad topic, more painful than IQ and ethnicity in my opinion.

  23. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    So the inescapable conclusion is that Heritage was perfectly willing to employ someone with Richwine’s racial views …

    Someone with “Richwine’s racial views”?

    You manage to make that sound sinister. Exactly what “racial views” are you alluding to?

  24. Frederick asks why we trust IQ as a ufficient measure of intelligence. By that logic, why do we measure an automobile’s power in horsepower an torque? Shouldn’t we be more sensitive to the self esteem of the engineers that designed them and just say that they are all special in their own way?

  25. This is a well-balanced article, and a timely tonic to the knee-jerk reflexes of those who are convinced no person of an oppressed race could be objectively deficient, and those who are convinced that white people, whatever that means, must be inherently superior after all.

    But Unz offers a foolish analogy when comparing race to gravity. Race, however real its impact, is a human construct. We look at various features of people somewhat alien to ourselves, and call them a race. E.g., my old 8th grade American history text, by no means an enlightened post-60s, tome, recounted how a senate committee went to inspect a canal project, and the chair asked the foreman, “You don’t consider an Italian a white man, do you?” No sir, he answered, “an Italian is a dago.”

    The notion of “white” has become more inclusive precisely because it was a desirable thing to be. Yes, there are different skin colors, but the genetics of Australian aborigines are quite different from those of west Africans. These features exist on a continuum, and mix in a variety of ways. It took Belgian administrators to turn Hutu and Tutsi into rival racial groups.

    That race is an artificiality makes its impact no less real. The gods of the Aztecs are, as far as we know, mythical, but their sacrificial victims were no less dead for all that.

    Note to M_Young: Two decades is nothing. It took the Irish three generations. Now if you find a study specific to Mexican Americans whose families have been here 3-5 generations, that would be worth considering. Also, if you control for those who arrived in the last 20 years, a considerable number, and look at IQ of those here for three generations only, we’d have a more interesting bit of data to consider.

  26. Frederick says:

    “Frederick asks why we trust IQ as a [s]ufficient measure of intelligence. By that logic, why do we measure an automobile’s power in horsepower an torque? Shouldn’t we be more sensitive to the self esteem of the engineers that designed them and just say that they are all special in their own way?”

    That’s reasoning by analogy, and anyway you’re talking about completely different categories. IQ tests are a simplistic way to measure something that is anything but simplistic – a person’s overall mental aptitude. There are many different kinds of mental capacities all commonly lumped under the term “intelligence.” And not all of them can be adequately measured by those cute little questions asking you “how many different triangles are in the big triangle” etc.

    Cognitive tests are also limiting because they can’t adequately measure creative thinking. I’ve taken many IQ tests, and the reasoning portions are extremely flawed….full of “have-you-stopped-beating-your-wife-yet?” kinds of questions.

    No, here’s what IQ is: 1. A convenient way for people to say, “look, I am smart and this number proves it.” 2. A way for others to make neat, albeit reductive judgments about someone else’s abilities.

    I know people who have gotten in the 80s and the 90s on those pathetically narrow tests and could think through certain things quite beyond or outside the experience of much higher scorers. As science catches up with its mistakes, you’ll see the “IQ” phenomenon continue to recede to the category of debunked myth, along with the health benefits of bleeding patients and the belief that big rocks fall faster than little rocks.

    • LOL: GazaPlanet
  27. AC says:

    No, they were effective in oppression because of their racist habits of bashing whiteys when they encountered them on the streets. Btw, where can I get a pair of your super-dark shades; I can use them to sleep in and keep out the morning sunshine (and not much else). Do they come w/automatic lobotomizers? Cool….

  28. Jon B says:

    It’s amazing to me that you wrote this entire column without using the word “causation.” It seems that critics aren’t upset that someone could think that there is a correlation between race and IQ; they’re upset that someone would draw such specific, yet totally spurious, policy conclusions from that correlation, without ever seriously addressing the well-documented problems with using IQ as a measure of intelligence. I though we were past the whole “minorities make less than whites, therefore minorities are inherently, biologically lazier” line of reasoning. Apparently not. I guess proponents just figure it’s just simple eugenics and wonder, “what’s wrong with that?”

  29. M_Young says:

    “Note to M_Young: Two decades is nothing. It took the Irish three generations. ”

    Okay, let’s stop — or sharply limit — Mexican immigration for 60 years and see how things turn out.

  30. NGPM says:

    @Frederick: have you ever known someone who consistently scored in the 80s and/or 90s on IQ tests and turned out to be a successful computer software engineer?

  31. Dahlia says:


    Saying IQ is just a myth is… I won’t say. But it’s part of the problem that Ron is talking about.
    It is very useful and learning how to make it more predictive is a valuable endeavor. Questions like, say, why East Asians lag despite higher IQs are interesting, but we don’t throw the baby out with the bath water because there isn’t a perfect correlation. As far as I’m aware, the leading theory on that particular one is that verbal IQ is more predictive and it captures better that “Imagination” you mentioned.

    “No, here’s what IQ is: 1. A convenient way for people to say, “look, I am smart and this number proves it.” 2. A way for others to make neat, albeit reductive judgments about someone else’s abilities.”

    #2 is completely true for me. I had my oldest three take IQ tests so I could better plan their education and understand their aptitudes.
    I learned that, despite all the pressure from my family that I was pushing one of my daughters too hard, the psychologist said, based on the IQ test, I wasn’t pushing her hard enough! Sure enough, my daughter thrived when introduced to what I had heretofore been sure was impossible material.
    Hers wasn’t a perfect prediction, however. My daughter began studying college-level material at age 11 and not age 12 (close!). Wondering why it was off, though just a little, I found myself learning about the Raven’s Progressive Matrices, Asperger’s, crystallized vs. fluid intelligence, etc.

    Anyway, it’s been extremely helpful.

  32. Frederick says:

    What I am saying more than anything is that there are too many personal intangibles that don’t fit into nice little categories that IQ tests can’t properly measure. Am I saying that someone who scores highly on such as test is not intelligent? Or that someone who scores low on such a test is intelligent anyway? Not necessarily. I am saying that, from what I have read and experienced, the vast concept of intelligence is too hopelessly complex for us to be pegging individuals with IQ Test score numbers and making our minds up about their total mental aptitudes based upon them. IQ tests are simplistic and they can but measure only very tiny, isolated portions of what makes someone “intelligent.” And the question of what makes someone “intelligent” probably doesn’t lend itself well to whatever inevitably confining test we could devise.

  33. Frederick says:

    Let’s try framing the ultimate futility of IQ test scores this way:

    Say we were able to get Einstein and Beethoven to both take IQ tests to see “who is smarter.” For the sake of argument, say Einstein wins with the higher score. After all, the cognitive nature of the test favors his field of endeavor. Then can we say that Einstein is “smarter” than Beethoven? Are we then going to think of Beethoven as a lower notch genius and look at the Ninth Symphony differently ever after? You see what this reliance on simplistic number-scrunching does to our thinking? It puts us in straight -jackets. It encourages us to see unique and complex human beings in terms of an absurdly limiting numbers. Maybe Beethoven’s IQ was 175 and Einstein’s was 180 or 190. Maybe thousands of people have scored above a 175. But none of them were Beethoven. And none of their minds could do what his mind did. Human beings are too complicated for me to take IQ tests too seriously. And by the articles I cited, more scientists are agreeing.

  34. Meg says:

    You are incorrect when you state that Jason received his Ph.D. from the Kennedy School. The public policy Ph.D. program is governed by Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). The Kennedy School only awards Master’s degrees. This is a widespread mistake. Please don’t add to the confusion!

  35. Seth Largo says: • Website

    Anyone beginning with the assumption that “IQ tests don’t measure anything important” or “race doesn’t exist” has already foreclosed on debate about this whole subject.

    You can’t debate about race and IQ without assuming that both concepts (properly defined) are valid. So, if you assume both concepts are invalid and you’re posting here, you aren’t trying to have a good-faith debate. You’re essentially playing the part of the postmodern deconstructionist, so don’t cry “racist!” or “extremist!” if people get nasty toward you. You are, a priori, not contributing anything meaningful.

  36. “With regard to Richwine’s IQ arguments, last year I published a major 7,500 word article on exactly the same topic of Race/IQ, arguing that there was overwhelming evidence that the IQs of various ethnic groups were far more malleable and environmentally influenced than is widely believed by many of those interested in the topic.”

    Not so overwhelming to prevent the BGI Cognitive Genomics from whole-genome sequencing 1,000s of very-high-IQ people around the world, hunting for sets of sets of IQ-predicting alleles.

    According to Geoffrey Miller, in Edge,, potentially these IQ genes “would allow all Chinese couples to maximize the intelligence of their offspring … this method of ‘preimplantation embryo selection’ might allow IQ within every Chinese family to increase by 5 to 15 IQ points per generation. After a couple of generations, it would be game over for Western global competitiveness.”

    Before betting the farm on environmental influences and Chinese social Darwinism, I would keep a closer eye on BGI’s genetic IQ research.

  37. NGPM says:

    @Frederick: the problem is that the articles you cite don’t actually “debunk” IQ, and you seem to rely on the titles and the commentaries and not the actual studies, not even the ABSTRACTS of the actual studies!

    As for an IQ of 175 versus an IQ of 190, you’re talking five or six standard deviations above the median, so already we’re in the gamut of odds of several million to one. What’s more, numerous studies have shown positive correlations with IQ and life outcome, and diminishing returns on investment (i.e., 120 makes on average a far higher salary than 100, but 140 makes only modestly higher than 120). So taking your example, if we discovered Beethoven had an IQ of 175 and Einstein, 190, asking whose cultural achievements reflected the greater genius would be akin to asking whether throwing oneself into a pit of burning car tires or a pool of fiery magma would lead to the timelier death.

    No credible psychometrician claims IQ is the sole predictor of academic, financial, cultural or social success, but it is a FACT that in the large pool of things, IQ is a much better comprehensive predictor of these things than any other factor we have.

    You may hold whatever opinion you wish, and in America it is your constitutional right to express said opinion, but you are definitely out of your league on this subject.

  38. IQ is a measure of how well you do on the IQ test and nothing else; why we should value it is beyond me. Of course, it’s NOT beyond me why white conservatives would argue that whites are more intelligent based on it.

    BTW, what’s the percentage of conservative Republicans who still – despite overwhelming facts to the contrary – believe Obama was born in Kenya…?

  39. Here’s one more reason why this debate will be moot and completely irrelevant:

    Imagine having this discussion with a sentient computer in future. I suspect no human will have much of anything to say. Not very much at all…

  40. Frederick says:

    @NGPM –

    Well at least I cited something…which is something more than what you cited. But here’s another article that explicitly links a scientific study (with an abstract) skeptical of IQ tests measuring overall intelligence –

    Then you say: “No credible psychometrician claims IQ is the sole predictor of academic, financial, cultural or social success, but it is a FACT that in the large pool of things, IQ is a much better comprehensive predictor of these things than any other factor we have.”

    This doesn’t match reality, sorry. Again, you have to define what intelligence is in every case, and then prove that it really reliably makes someone more successful. That’s a daunting prospect. And saying that something is “the best comprehensive predictor of [success]” means little if the best we have is wholly inadequate. And then you have to define success. How do you do that? How do you measure whether one person is really more successful than another? By cherry-picking single factors? Money? Okay then Tiger Woods is smarter/more successful than almost every PhD with a high powered research job. (Is Tiger Woods a “smarter” athlete than Sergio Garcia because he has won more? Golf is a “thinking man’s” sport, after all…is it not?) Social status? Okay, then George W. Bush is smarter/more successful than anyone who tried and didn’t get his job. (Is a mediocre president [however you define “mediocre”] more successful than a senator or congressman with a long record of legislative, law, and business accomplishments and fewer clear failures [however we define “failure”]? Hoover was one of the most “successful” people around in terms of accomplishments in his career…until after he became president.) I think that Bible verse about the battle not always going to the strong and time and chance happening to us all applies here. The “smartest” aren’t always the most successful…no matter how you define either.

  41. NGPM says:

    @Scharlach: spot-on.

    @libfreak48: I guess colorblindness tests only measure what you answer on colorblindness tests and not anything about your visual abilities?

    @The Wet One: I read the article and the author makes exactly the same mistake as corporate optimists in estimating the efficacy of more powerful machines. It is true that processing power grows exponentially with respect to time, but economic productivity does not, even as machines enter the equation. The relationship between productivity and machine speed is logarithmic at best.

  42. VJ says:

    Many Thanks goes to Ron Unz for this extended conversation and argument. Let’s try for some synthesis here.

    1.) As Ron notes, this current climate is much like that seen historically around WWI and with the coming of the immigration acts of 1921 & 24. There are indeed many parallels to be seen, besides the hysteria and hatreds.

    2.) Then as now, some of the most enlightened scientists of the age tried to address the issue and tried as best they could to answer the relevant questions as they saw them. Today, this may have been somewhat precluded by the charges of ‘PC’ & ‘racist’. But it has not prevented a spate of books on the topic nor an ongoing argument covering much the same ground.

    3.) The accumulated evidence then and now was that immigrants change as they acculturate to the new nation. Franz Boas noted that this can be demonstrated Physically in bodily (anthropomorphic) measurements. This is no small thing, with better nutrition more reliably and constantly supplied, most immigrants thrived. They grew bigger, and in most cases stronger. They were capable of greater work capacity, and were typically taller and wider than their parents. The same is no doubt true for IQ’s.

    4.) The special problem of IQ is that not only does no one know exactly what it’s measuring, but that we go about measuring it in varying ways. Indeed many ‘cross country’ and ‘cross racial’ comparisons are plagued with such issues and various undeserving ‘proxies’ for IQ that are used.

    5.) As with the prior historical example, all this went into the sausage making of policy recommendations and then legislation and had a profound impact on our society, polity and economy. Then as now many argued putting their prejudices and biases first, then recommending public policy cures for the various ills they imagined. Way back then, many of these rationales were frankly race based, sometimes heavily eugenically tinged and certainly racist. The ‘old Americans’ who saw their country changing quickly before their eyes were of course proven right, but their days were numbered due to prior immigration surges. It was the ‘Greatest Generation’ that saw much of the benefit from lower immigration and lower number of migrants.

    6.) We are a great immigrant nation. Reagan understood this too. One of the few nations who have typically historically favored more open immigration, (I’m counting Canada & Australia as the others of this rare trio). The argument often comes down to the quality of migrants, and here most come away ‘dissatisfied’ with the ease with which the undereducated and underemployed can gain access. That’s again more or less a constant. The economic arguments can get confusing fast, depending on what you want to count. Are people costly? Yes. Are they also resourceful and capable of adding much to our nation? Yes again.

    7.) The exclusion acts and The Immigration Act of 1924 excluded certain immigrants from differing European regions and racial categories. Less than 20 years later, many of the scientists who built the Atomic bomb would come from their ranks. They helped save possibly a million American lives by ending the war with Japan in WWII early. (Now, again there’s a fine argument to rehash too).

    8.) The argument might then be ‘but what have the Mexicans/South Americans ever given the world or humanity’? Much the same might have been said in the 1920’s of Jews or Czechs or Hungarians. This is as John Silber might say, ‘a cosmology of your own embarrassment’. I don’t know, but about the time many Europeans were nestled in hill forts and fighting from same, someone was still building very large cities in Central and South America. It’s a thought.

    9.) None of this needs to enter into the debate on what exactly to do about immigration. You can be for limitations on immigration and still be able to do that in a humane, fair, and reasonable way that honors our traditions of open borders and a welcoming hand to the oppressed of the world. We still manage to take in more than anyone else on a per capita basis. There’s a reasonable argument about how we might be able to continue to do so in the future.

    10.) Some of that argument is separate from the farcical demands that the border (especially the Southern border) be ‘sealed’ or ‘controlled’ to a degree that it never has been in our history. That’s been proven to be a practical impossibility. We’ve grown the HSD border forces by 4X in a decade, including staffing and funding to where it’s by far the largest largest police force in the nation. And it’s still not to the satisfaction of some. That’s fine. Just say ‘I’m for zero/no/much more limited immigration’. That’s more honest. There’s good arguments on both sides. But on the central question of which Nation or Race or ethnic segment has the higher IQ’s? An interesting parlor game to be certain. Entertaining for sure. Dubious as a construct much useful for making enlightened or workable public policy.

    The “My race/ethnicity is superior to yours, hence you should be excluded” is not only pretty miserable as a moral position, it’s a throw back to the 18/19th century way of reasoning and scientific understanding. And yet that’s what we’re still arguing here in the 21st century. We might know better, but then again, we still might not want to.

    Thanks again for the good thoughts. Cheers ‘VJ’

  43. Frederick says:

    “I guess colorblindness tests only measure what you answer on colorblindness tests and not anything about your visual abilities?”

    Faulty analogy once more. Color-blind tests measure a single, isolated, verifiable element. IQ tests claim much more through dubious means.

  44. M_Young says:

    ” Color-blind tests measure a single, isolated, verifiable element.”

    Actually no, as various languages divide up the spectrum in different ways. Japanese, for example, doesn’t make a distinction between blue and green.

  45. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    After all, our reigning academic orthodoxy has insisted for decades that “race does not exist,” a scientific claim roughly equivalent to declaring that “gravity does not exist” ”

    You are a moron. Race is a social construction, which isn’t the same as not existing.

  46. M_Young says:

    VJ, you have swallowed whole the propaganda about the 1924 immigration act.

    1) it was not about hysteria or hatred, it was about preserving the ethnic balance, and indeed character, of the country. It may not have succeeded (‘their days were numbered’) fully, but it certainly helped maintain the country as something recognizable.

    2) their were not ‘racial’ quotas per se, certainly not against Jews. Quotas were by country or geography (most of Asian being excluded geographically.) Einstein as a German national would have been eligible for admittance under that quote. And in fact any really prominent scientist (like Fermi then) would gain admittance (like Berners-Lee now). Even going back to the ‘Chinese Exclusion Act’, there was no blanket exclusion of Chinese, scholars, clergymen, even teachers were admitted.

    “We’ve grown the HSD border forces by 4X in a decade, including staffing and funding to where it’s by far the largest largest police force in the nation.”

    ICE and Border Patrol together number around 40,000 people. Our active duty military is 1,400,000. The former actually guards the nation.

  47. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Apparently it requires repeating that Hispanicity is not a race but a psychocultural inheritance, and if it is the case that Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Peruvians, Colombians, Dominicans, etc., score lower on intelligence tests then it is almost certainly because of adverse aspects and factors present within their respective sociocultural heritages and not in any meaningful or measurable way a consequence of their quite significant genetic dissimilarities, with some being predominantly, if not exclusively, of African ancestry and others almost purely genetically Amerindian, and others still demonstrating 60-40 or 40-60 percentages of European-Indian or inverse parental inheritances. An impedimentary and maladaptive familial and social culture, and not any purely genetic legacy, is the main culprit in these dispiriting intelligence statistics, and that in itself should be a sufficiently concerning thought.

  48. NGPM says:

    @Frederick: once again, the title of the article that links to the study does not reflect the substance of the study. Neither does most of the content of the article (which is a commentary on someone else’s work), nor does its out-of-context quotation. In any case, thank you for promptly demonstrating that you absorbed absolutely nothing of what I wrote. I shall cease wasting my time trying to impart and qualify psychometric realities upon you.

    @Shadowblade: speaking of morons, if IQ were measured by the vocabulary and temperament of blog writebacks, the median would surely be at least one standard deviation lower than in the general population.

    @M_Young: you’re missing the point. In contemporary polite company, racial non-discrimination in all facets of public life is a deontological principle. In other words, consequences be damned: the rule must be adhered to. If shutting out certain nationalities through immigration is the only way that the ethnic balance and/or character of the country can be preserved, the contemporary mainstream conscience is content to see the balance be upset, the character changed and even the nation destroyed.

    So yes, they will accuse you of hysteria and hatred according to their framework of thinking. By the way, I happen to agree with you. But if you’re going to speak to your enemy, you have to speak in terms he can understand.

    @Rambeau: your point “An impedimentary and maladaptive familial and social culture, and not any purely genetic legacy, is the main culprit in these dispiriting intelligence statistics, and that in itself should be a sufficiently concerning thought” is an insightful point, but we should be cautious about dismissing biological effects on intelligence. Observations of twins and adopted versus natural children seem to bear out that genetics has SOMETHING to do with it – and surely Trisomy-21 is solid evidence, no?

    But some people here want to argue that among humans with “normal functioning” brains there is no measurable intelligence differential. That is just plain looney.

  49. Rossbach says:

    Suppose that all of the “Latinos” who wish to move to the US have at least normal IQ scores. Is that a reason for allowing them all to move to an already overcrowded, economically struggling, debt-ridden country? The core immigration issue is not about the inherent worth of individual immigrants; the core issue is how big do we want the US population to grow, how fast do we want it to grow, and what standard of living do we want the final number to achieve. If we don’t address that concern, none of the others will matter very much.

  50. Turmarion says: • Website

    M_Young: For example, the ‘old stock’ Americans are now completely excluded from the Supreme Court — they have been displaced by the ancestors of the then (1910 or so) immigrants.

    I think you mean descendants, not ancestors–unless you postulate them returning from the dead. Aside from that, who cares? If they’re all old stock or new stock or Protestant or Catholic or Hindu or Zoroastrian, so what? White male Protestants were good enough to serve as justices for everyone of all genders, races, and religions before–why not blacks or white Catholics or Jews?

    [T]he 1924 immigration act…was not about hysteria or hatred, it was about preserving the ethnic balance, and indeed character, of the country. (my emphasis)

    Well, there it is. You said once before that even if blacks or Hispanics or whatever were exactly identical to white Anglo-Saxons in intelligence, propensity to crime, etc., you’d still prefer your own, oppose others coming here, intermarriage, etc. because it would not “preserve the ethnic balance, and indeed character, of the country”. You’re free to hold such a loathsome view, but such a view shows that other arguments–IQ and such–are just window dressing for a view you’d hold anyway.

    Look, I think immigration is excessive and has a bad effect on employment, etc., too; and I don’t think discussions of race and IQ should be automatically forbidden in polite company. The problem is that they tend to get used by people who dislike other groups as a matter of principle, with the ultimate result that really ugly policies tend to get put into place. That, as Another Believer points out, tends to delegitimate a serious discussion of the issues.

    Anyway, anyone who reads history knows that the so-called “Anglo-Saxon people” is a mongrel of Celts, pre-Celts, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Romans, and probably the odd Phoenician or two, plus a smattering of other groups (Roman legionaries from all over were in Britain). Ditto any other European “people”. Like it or not, we’re all mutts, and cultures, peoples, and races mix, match, flow, come into existence, and end over the vast scale of time. Denying that or disliking it doesn’t make it less true.

  51. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    You say that you “prefer determining reality based on evidence and quantitative data rather than from ideological first principles.”
    Well, the idea of “race” is an ideological first principle. It has no empirical basis. How, for instance, are you going to sort out who is “Latino” and who is not, scientifically? Think: on what basis should we consider a Polish Jew and a Portuguese person to be of one race, while a Mexican person of entirely Spanish ancestry is not of that same race? There are Mexican people who are more European in blood than most “white” Americans, and there are Mexicans who are entirely Amerindian. Even assuming that these ancestral groups make any difference whatsoever to issues like intelligence, the racial categories we use make no sense and have no consistency. They are cultural categories with a veil of pseudoscience pulled over them.

    Richwine dismissed older work ranking the intelligence of various European groups, saying that it used “bizarre racial categories.” Well here is the reality that both you and he are failing to see: ALL racial categories are bizarre racial categories. Trying to account for people’s behavior on the basis of these nonsense categories is just an exercise in circular reasoning.

  52. VJ says:

    Sadly No, M_Young, I’m reasonably familiar with the 1924 Immigration Act, and the controversy and arguments around it. History as they say is not that easily washed away.

    1.) No Hysteria & Hatred? Sorry, see: The Palmer Raids. Then it was the rising fear over the Anarchists. Now, it’s Terrorism, principally ‘radical Muslim’ or other Al Qaeda type. Both committed or encouraged acts of terror here.

    2.) Not aimed at Jews? No, carefully crafted to do so:

    “Though the law’s quota system targeted immigrants based on their nation of origin rather than ethnicity or religion, Jewish immigration was a central concern. Hearings about the legislation cited the radical Jewish population of New York’s Lower East Side as the prototype of immigrants who could never be assimilated.[14] The law sharply curtailed immigration from those countries that were the homelands of the vast majority of the Jews in America, almost 75% of whom came from Russia alone.[15] Because Eastern European immigration only became substantial in the final decades of the 19th century, the law’s use of the population of the United States in 1890 as the basis for calculating quotas effectively made mass migration from Eastern Europe, the home of the vast majority of the world’s Jews, impossible.[16] From the Wiki.

    3.) And yes, largely a blanket exclusion for Asians, which was by long & durable tradition certainly ‘race based’:

    4.) The often harrowing and barely survivable routes that many key scientists and artists took to gain entry into our country before & during WWII are also well known.

    5.) And yes, Police force was used there for a reason.

    Cheers, ‘VJ’

  53. Colm J says:

    I’d agree with the contributor above who says the debate about immigration should not be confused with IQ controversies. Anti-immigrationists who do so should bear in mind that it can be a double-edged sword. Some neo-liberals and leftists use such IQ tests as an implicit argument for MORE immigration: e.g. citing the intelligence of east Asians as evidence that their presence will benefit western economies.

  54. NGPM says:

    “IQ tests claim much more through dubious means.”

    It occurs to me that most critics of IQ have absolutely no idea what it actually measures beyond the fantasies of the White Nationalist boogeymen lurking in the corner. Go read up on psychometrics and then I will take your critiques seriously. To begin with, rather than linking to commentaries which are only vaguely related to the articles they cite, read the actual articles they cite.

    (You seem proud of your citations and you take me to cause for not citing anything. I suppose you have learned in school that good arguments cite lots of sources. That’s only true if the sources actually relate to the arguments and are of decent quality themselves.)

    Otherwise, I will conclude you have not read or digested any of my charges.

  55. ColmJ – – Indians do well in schools, in Britain and the US, thanks to good parental guidance. Flourish, in fact. Generally.

  56. I think that we need to consider looking at the immigrant variation question as UNnatural selection (apologies to Darwin).

    A Greek-American friend of mine came back from Greece a few years ago complaining that the Greeks have no work ethic. Since I was used to seeing Greeks working themselves to death in the American restaurant industry, I asked how this contradiction was possible. He told me that the Greeks who come to this country are selected by their financial backers because they are exceptional.

    The point is that we do not understand the extent to which prospective immigrants study our economy and try to make adjustments to it. They have a plan. For many years the Chinese plan was the same as the Greeks; open a restaurant and work 12-hours a day.

    More recently the Chinese have adopted the immigrant plan of academic achievement. The question is: Is that due to routine upward mobility or is it a self-selecting plan? If you look at the numbers you have to think it is a self-selecting plan, just like the Greeks who are selected to run US enterprises.

    Likewise it takes capital to get from Mexico to the US. The people who come are betting that they can do back-breaking labor better than others. They are locally selected for this task and not to work as hedge fund managers.

    I would really like to see a study of ethnic Chinese high achievers. Are they second and third generation Americans? Are they from the upper middle class? And the big question: Were they or their parents selected in China for immigration to the US as a policy or as a result of policies in China?

  57. Glossy says:

    Mr. Unz compares Italian, Irish, etc. immigrants to the US of a century ago with modern-day Italian-Americans, Irish Americans, etc. That’s not an apples to apples comparison. These groups have heavily intermarried with other whites. Surely that explains at least some of the convergence in IQ and socioeconomic status. I haven’t read all the thousands of words that Mr. Unz has written on this topic, just some of them. Can someone here enlighten me: does he admit anywhere that modern Irish-Americans aren’t very Irish, that modern Italian-Americans aren’t very Italian, etc? There is a well-known phenomenon of Americans of mixed ethnic backgrounds choosing to emphasize the most exotic part of their heritage.

    Without looking any of this up, just going from personal impressions, I’d say that significantly more than 50% of the marriages of people who self-identify as Irish Americans are to people who do not identify as such. And this has been going on for several generations now. And this can be said about most of the groups which Mr. Unz uses to build his IQ plasticity argument.

    If in the future Mexican-Americans heavily intermarry with whites, then of course the two groups’ mean IQs will converge at some level below 100 and above 90. That would prove nothing about the plasticity of IQ.

  58. M_Young says:

    ” Some neo-liberals and leftists use such IQ tests as an implicit argument for MORE immigration: e.g. citing the intelligence of east Asians as evidence that their presence will benefit western economies.”

    Agreed. The immigration debate should focus on fiscal impacts, jobs, social cohesion, social mobility, the local environment, the global environment, etc.

  59. M_Young says:

    VJ, I stand by my statement. German Jews could enter like any other German. Russian or Polish Christians were equally subject to the national quotas as Jews were. Numerically, it was probably Italians who were most affected — but strangely, you don’t hear Italians kvetching about 1924. In fact, some of the best immigration patriots –Tancredo, Barletta, Aripaio, have Italian surnames.

    The Palmer raids had just aboutzero to do with the 1924 law.

    BTW the Jewish labor leader Gompers supported the law, pointing out the unholy alliance of big business and ethnic interests.

    The truest expression of the cultural restrictionist is this:

    “Let me emphasize here that the restrictionists of Congress do not claim that the “Nordic” race, or even the Anglo-Saxon race, is the best race in the world. … What we do claim is that the northern European, and particularly Anglo-Saxons made this country. Oh, yes; the others helped. But that is the full statement of the case. They came to this country because it was already made as an Anglo-Saxon commonwealth. They added to it, they often enriched it, but they did not make it, and they have not yet greatly changed it. We are determined that they shall not. It is a good country. It suits us. And what we assert is that we are not going to surrender it to somebody else or allow other people, no matter what their merits, to make it something different. If there is any changing to be done, we will do it ourselves. (Cong. Rec., April 8, 1924, 5922) ”

    William Vaile of Colorado.

  60. Jason says:

    You’re honestly comparing the idea of biological race to the law of gravity? Conservatives truly are the stupidest people on this planet.

  61. Curle says:

    I see the ‘race is a social construct’ crackpottery has surfaced on this site as it seems to whenever the issue of IQ is raised.

    The contention, that race has no useful meaning, is debunked by the following discussion at the Discovery blogsite Gene Expression (though it is depressing to realize that some will forever get tangled up in this tedious distraction):

  62. Dan says:

    It’s easy to get away from discussions of tests and just look at accomplishments in things like politics, science, literature, architecture and the arts.

    Italians have distinguished themselves well across the centuries.

    One test I have of a nation’s human capital is its ability to have a homegrown auto industry. The nations that have been able to do this profitably across the decades have special first-world human capital not found in abundance elsewhere:

    United States, Germany, Britain, France, Japan, Korea, Sweden and yes, definitely Italy. It is a special list.

  63. @ Ron Unz,

    Chuck the psychometric blogger at Occidentalist has pointed out a problem with the argument though. He writes:

    “The most recent meta-analytic estimate is a correlation of 0.8 between g-loading — a perfect index of genetic loading — and the magnitude of the difference.

    Ron also argues that the H/W gap is like the previous immigrant/native gaps. Yet, Richwine showed that in an important respect it isn’t. In doing so, he provided compelling evidence that the IQ gaps will persist for at least another couple of generations. The reasoning is simple: (a) prior to the closing of previous immigrant gaps, the gaps exhibited a narrowing across cohorts and generations; (b) this is consistent with theory, by which gaps, when intergenerationally environmentally transmitted, disappear by the third/fourth generation; (c) such a narrowing is not seen in the case of the Hispanic-White gap; (d) it is, therefore, unlikely that the Hispanic-White gap will vanish anytime soon…

    Flynn and Sowell, for example, compared the B/W gap, the origins of which is in question, respectively, to the Flynn Effect and to the Protestant Effect, the origins of which seem to be environmental. They argued that the Black-White gap is like the other gaps, and, therefore, the causes are alike. But analogical arguments work to the extent that the compared are similar in the first dimension being compared. In these cases: A is like B in psychometric nature, therefore A is like B in terms of etiology. Flynn and Sowell’s arguments failed because the compared gaps are highly psychometrically dissimilar. In fact, the contrary arguments work better: The B/W gap is very unlike, in psychometric character related to genetic/environmental influence, the seemingly environmental FE and PE, therefore this suggests a non-environmental etiology to the B/W gap. Ron’s analogy fails because the comparison gaps behave dissimilarly when it comes to inter-generational transmission. And here too the contrary argument works better. But what about psychometric characteristics – how do the Hispanic immigrant/Native Whites and White immigrant/Native White gaps compare psychometrically? Unfortunately, no one has thoroughly explored this issue.* ”

    Chuck goes on to look at the NLSY 79 data and comments:

    “The NLSY 79 Native White-Mexican immigrant difference can be interpreted as a difference in g, while the Native White -European immigrant difference can not, given standard interpretative rules. I note this merely as an example of an analysis that could be done to help clarify the issue.”

  64. jb says:

    Ron —

    I have an interest in the question of race and IQ, and while I’ve haven’t been able to read all of your articles (or the comments) I’ve read quite a bit. One thing that really struck me what how little you had to say about blacks! You talked about Hispanics, and Asians, and various European ethnic groups, but I just don’t remember you taking any position on blacks. That’s something that really struck me, because for most people that is the heart of the race/IQ question!

    Personally, I believe that there is most likely a major genetic component to the black/white gap in measured IQs. But I don’t consider this a certainty, and I found your arguments about the variability of national IQs to be quite interesting. (I’ve never understood how IQ could be as impervious to environment as people claim. As an analogy, genes certainly have a major influence on absolute muscular strength, yet training also has a big impact. I just find it kind of difficult to believe I would be just as smart as I am now if I had been raised as an illiterate peasant, rather than spending my childhood absorbed in books and intellectual conversations with my parents, and then going on to college and exercising my mind even harder).

    So, forgive me if you have already done this and I missed it, but is there any chance you will publish something focused directly on the black/white IQ gap? (I have to say that if you don’t, one natural conclusion might be that you have a politically incorrect position on the issue, and that you don’t want to risk publishing it!)

  65. Fernando says:

    I am genuinely confused about this supposed connection between race and IQ. Intelligence is dependent on brain functioning, so the question for me is why should there be a connection between brain functioning, skin colour and all of the other characteristics that supposedly comprise “race” What is the biological mechanism whereby melanin for example could impact on the way that the brain works? People who make the connection between race and IQ seem to just assume that there is some connection without ever spelling out what that connection might be. We do not consider hair colour as having any connection IQ, but why not? If Asian people are supposedly smarter than whites, then maybe the relevant factor is their hair. Why is this seemingly farcical connection anymore absurd than say it is their “race” which accounts for their intelligence.

  66. Anonymous [AKA "anon20171010"] says:

    I continue to read of this swirling, bizarre discussion implicitly associating `ethnicity` with intelligence (presumably as measured by I.Q. testing-scoring), with great skepticism.

    While Ron`s article is internally consistent, and (admittedly in the absence of reviewing all cited source material) presumably cogent, I do not understand how real scientists (i.e. believers and followers of the scientific principles and processes) can meaningfully entertain the debate.

    The strong trend of these discussions is in the direction of establishing credibility for a race-intelligence correlation.
    It follows a pattern of being `managed`, i.e. inserted into the public consciousness, at some level, to validate race-intelligence correlation.
    This can only be a politically directed.
    This has all of the hallmarks of a long term fake news program.

    The only multi-generational persistent, thus traceable, genetic configurations are Y-chromosome patrilineage (males humans only) and mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) matrilineage.
    Therefore, persistent and traceable racial lineage can be summarized as a matrix of Y-chromosome – mDNA pairings for men, and only an mDNA listing for women.
    There is no scientific data which shows:
    a. correlations between Y-chromosome and or- mDNA pairings and any other identified genetic configurations
    b. phenotypical (let alone behavioural) trait norms associated with Y-chromosome and or- mDNA pairings or combinations

    It is much more believable that epigenetic variations account for phenotypical (and potentially behavioural) variations; and of course, epigentics are primarily influenced by environmental factors.

    Race – in summary: the concept of race is only a vestigial human cultural behavioural trait, originating from early human tribal superstitions cum cultures; we may never know if there was ever a basis of genetic – intelligence variation which may or may not have been driven by isolated environmental factors driving phenotypical norms in sub-populations of humans.

    Even if it were possible to prove associations between genetically persistent markers, i.e. Y-chromosome and or- mDNA pairings or combinations, again one would be extremely challenged to mitigate environmental and epigenetic factors to create phenotypical (yet further to behavioural let alone intelligence) correlations to supposedly generationally persistent (i.e. race) genetics.

    And I have not even addressed the obvious limitations and validity of the methods for testing intelligence, which are significant (to say the least).

    So, I am intrigued by this discussion being pervasive amongst the `scientific`community.

    It could be possible that affiliations claiming racial cohesiveness (another blaring, obvious fallacious myth), seek to insert the trope of racial intelligence differentiation to justify why they are the superior … people.

    It looks like that, another way of deception, to ultimately get more than an equitable share, by gaming the system.

  67. George says:

    “the Social Darwinist roots of Chinese success”

    What explains Indian success?

    Maybe the civil service exams for 1000 yrs had an effect. But I have to think that the more recent catastrophe of the Taiping rebellion had a bigger effect.

    What ever, you say about Mao, he left the country and especially individuals debt free. I pretty good basis for future growth. Let’s see what happens in the US where the young cannot form families because they have to pay off debts to the elderly, the government, and to capitalists, unless they work for the government or the military. Good luck with that.

    • Replies: @Weaver
  68. phil says:

    Hispanics average less brain mass than whites (Ralph Holloway, Columbia University) and score below whites on “backward-digits” tests. (Listen to a series of digits and try to repeat them in reverse order.) A backward-digits test has very little cultural content and very little Flynn effect.

    It is not necessary for all groups that have lower scores than whites to experience convergence with white scores over time.

  69. Weaver says:

    The best Indians move to America. India has a highly variant population.

    Technically India is more-Caucasian.

    All of the assertions I just made could be mistaken. But that’s what I suspect to be the case. India might also have a more virtuous culture currently, compared with most any post-Christian white society.

  70. lavoisier says: • Website

    Spoken clearly by a man of wisdom and reason.

    The voice of authority must be the only voice that is heard.

  71. ltravail says:

    Even given the best of intentions and effort it is difficult to undertake solid research in a subject that few are willing to discuss in public and one in which there exists such widespread misinformation… another factor behind my focus has been what I see as a dangerous vacuum of calm and reasonably informed discussion.

    Herein lies the rub: the race/IQ “debate” can never rise above the level of “discussion”, and the participants in such a discussion can ever do anymore than display their subjective predisposition on the matter, from which they can never be dissuaded. There is no objective high-ground to be had on this topic. Researchers can say they employ scientific methods to arrive at their conclusions and assertions, but that far from means it is a work of “science”, as a physicist might use the term. This is why many argue there is no “science” to the social sciences at all, that all we’re really talking about are social “studies” coated with a veneer of mathematical legitimacy.

    This is not to say that social studies can’t be useful, particularly with regard to social policy formulation. But the question is, what useful formulation can come out of a race/IQ “discussion” in this day and age? Numerous ways and means of separating the intellectual wheat from the chaff have existed and been employed for the better part of a century now – starting from grade school and continuing into our careers and professions. This selection process operates at an individual level, as rightfully it should. What more can further race/IQ “research” add to this fact of life in our society?

    The only practical use of this “group-focused” IQ research is in applied eugenics. We’ve gone passed that presumably. And had it been applied in the early part of the 20th century, the only people populating this country, as you imply in your article, would be elite migrants from north and western Europe (and perhaps their perpetually indentured black slaves and impoverished aborigines). The only other use that it has, as far as I can determine, is as succor for those discontent with the multi-racial character of this nation.

    If anyone could realistically demonstrate a practical value of race/IQ “research”, I’m sure it would pique greater general interest. It would definitely pique my own. But because none has been demonstrated so far, any discussion is only playing with emotional dynamite with no good purpose at its end. As far as most people can see, only closet eugenicists and racialist malcontents have any interest in the subject, as these seem to be the principal, or sole parties obsessed with it (Mr. Unz notwithstanding perhaps).

    • Replies: @Colin Wright
  72. @ltravail

    ‘…There is no objective high-ground to be had on this topic…’

    Lol. Wouldn’t it be considerably more honest for you to write ‘the objective high ground isn’t where I wish it was on this topic’?

  73. ltravail says:

    Damn dude! You following me?…We may not have similar views, but we seem to have similar interests…LOL

  74. michael says:

    also it’s imperative that society eliminates the social welfare programs that permit the lazy and/or low intellect ne’er do wells from producing babies. Modern hospitality programs are causing problems to magnify as we have entirely eliminated the survival of the fittest “testing” from the succesfull procreation of more ne’er do wells. For as a british guy quiped around the turn of the century before last;
    “feeding the poor only increases their numbers”
    On a related note it’s my understanding that there is almost universal agreement amongst MDs, pyschologists and geneticists et, al.that intelligence aka IQ is 70% determined by the mother and father’s IQ. Leaving but 30% to be molded by nuture , environment and whether your early years were fueled almost entirely by high refined carbs, high sugar, bad fat diets common in the hood. Where it’s also common for adults well into middle age still with the diet of a preteen.

    and then as hawking recently left us with the thought of the wealthy genetically engineering their offspring so the genetic gaps widen while hood momma still has her 6 or 8.
    and automation via machine replaces the jobs these low IQ baby making machines could have performed.
    soylent green is people !

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