IQ and the Nativist Movement

by Erik Voeten on May 13, 2013 · 36 comments

in Immigration

We welcome back Diego von Vacano for a guest post on the purported low IQ of immigrants.

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The academic and policy worlds have been roiled by last week’s announcement that a Heritage Foundation study on the cost of immigration reform was co-authored by Jason Richwine, who wrote a dissertation on the purported low IQ of immigrants. It beyond belief that, in the year 2013, there are still some that want to posit that there is a genetic basis for race. Even more surprisingly, these arguments come endorsed with a seal of approval by some of the nation’s top universities, like Harvard in this case. As an alumnus of the Kennedy School and a scholar of race and Hispanic identity, I feel obliged to provide a response.

Having spent last week with some of the world’s premier scholars of race at a workshop on “Reconsidering Race” at Texas A&M University, in which we examined the interface of social science and genetics/genomics and health (http://reconsideringrace.wordpress.com/), I am stunned by the lack of rigor and intellectual depth evinced by Richwine’s dissertation. The work makes extremely simplistic assumptions about “race,” immigration, and the link between IQ and genetics.  Even a neophyte in matters of genetics/genomics can see the gaping holes in Richwine’s logic. One would have expected his advisors, Professors George Borjas, Richard Zeckhauser, and Christopher Jencks to have been more cognizant of the complex nature of terms such as “race”, “Hispanic,” and “white,” as well as their tenuous links to genetics (assuming they actually read the dissertation). Richwine claimed in his Harvard dissertation that “the material environment and genes probably make the greatest contributions to IQ differences” (p. 4) and that “today’s immigrants are not as intelligent on average as white natives” (p. 134). 

There are three basic points that have to be made to remind these scholars that such shoddy work should not easily pass at the doctoral level—or any level for that matter. One is the basic idea that “Hispanics” can be of any race (a concept that Richwine references in passing in his dissertation), so that it is not possible to simply oppose “Hispanic” and “white” as if they were mutually exclusive categories (a dichotomy that is crucial to his argument). In fact, Pope Francis is Hispanic; so is Rigoberta Menchu. The term is a politically- and socially-constructed category that has been shaped through historical ties between the US, Latin America, and the Iberian peninsula. There is nothing inherent, natural, or ‘genetic’ in the category of “Hispanic.” There are many people of European ancestry in Latin America, but there are also many of Amerindian origins, African descent, and a vast majority whose origins are a mix of ethnicities, including East Asian, Jewish, Arab, and practically every other group in the world (I myself, for example, am of Aymara, Spanish, German, and Portuguese origin).

The primitive binary taxonomy of “black vs. white” (emanating from the US one-drop rule) that has somehow become transformed into a spurious “white vs. non-white” Manichean logic is untenable. Not only has racial admixture always been the case (since, as work by Nell Irvin Painter reminds us, there were many ‘white races’—not just one—at previous historical times), but ‘racial’ mixing has become even more prevalent even in the US in the last five decades as a result of the rapid rise of non-European migration. Even for those who consider “Hispanic” a race, the understanding of this term is cultural and historical, not genetic (for example, in the ideas of the eminent Mexican philosopher Jose Vasconcelos). Race is not a dichotomous variable. The Latin American experience shows us this, and the US would do well to heed that lesson to break down its dualistic racial paradigm.

The second point to be made is that the genetics and genomics revolution of the last two decades or so does have implications for what we understand as ‘race,’ but not in the way that people like Richwine want to argue. Our workshop examined the idea of ‘race’ in light of recent genetics and genomic research in order to see whether it has consequences for our conceptualization of ‘racial’ identities and categories, and also for policies related to health disparities. These are complex and as of yet unresolved questions, but they certainly do not buttress the idea that there are such things as natural entities called ‘’races’’ and that they are rooted in genetic grounds. Recent research shows that humans share about 97% of the same genetic material with orangutans (an animal beloved by visitors to this blog). It also tells us that orangutans are more genetically diverse among themselves than are humans. In other words, people are more alike, across regional populations, than we are different.

And even within the small areas of difference, no evidence exists that such differences make for strictly separate human categories that are essentially discrete. It may be true that some populations share some genetic markers among themselves more than with others, but these differences are minimal. As epidemiologist Jay Kaufman of McGill has argued, the more we learn about the human genome, the closer we are to individuated genetic understanding, not to the construction of broad, essentially-unchangeable human groups. Richwine’s error is to think that IQ is a stable phenotype that reflects universal intelligence. Yes, we should take the genomics revolution as a challenge to simple social-constructivist views of race, but we cannot make the error of thinking that it validates a reification of the complex sociopolitical categories that we call ‘races.’

The last point is that the rudimentary statistical analysis of the kind that Richwine carried out ignores the important interface between social realities and genetics. Besides the problems noted above, we can underscore that even IQ test results are culturally-shaped, and not some measure of a primordial, biological mental ability. Rather, they reflect the intertwining of some aspects of mental capacity with education, life experiences, socioeconomic status, and other contingent contexts. They are not measures of pure intelligence (a dubious concept as well). What we ought to be advocating is not some sort of eugenics-based retrograde Nativist policy that reminds us of the 19th century, but improved educational access for all, and a fair, uniform immigration policy that minimizes discrimination, not enhances it.

It is both morally and intellectually disingenuous to propose what Borjas et al. have been advocating for years now. To claim to favor more immigration of those with “higher IQ’s” or more human capital flies in the face of the fact that low-human capital immigrants contribute profoundly to US economic growth due to their low wages in key industries such as construction, agriculture, and also the service sector. In manufacturing, Hispanics are underpaid relative to their economic value, as sociologist Arthur Sakamoto has shown. Ethically, it is unacceptable for a modern liberal-democratic state to promote high-IQ selectivity in immigration, for this policy advocates unequal treatment rather than uniform standards for all (in this light, Canadian immigration policy, which makes distinctions based on human capital, may be suspect as well, owing to the brain drain that it induces in poorer nations).

As educators, we have a special responsibility to provide non-superficial answers to complex questions. The idea of race is a fraught one. As the Kennedy School is my alma mater, I must say that it is time that policy questions not be treated as merely quantitative or mechanical issues. Public policy schools must also provide coursework that deepens analyses, no thins them down. “Race” is a concept that involves normative, political, historical, cultural, economic, and social forces in a complex interplay. It cannot be bandied about willy-nilly with no sensitivity to them. This idea applies to all racial categories, but it is perhaps most salient for the term “Hispanic,” owing to the rich diversity of ethnic origins that have gone into its making over a long historical period. It is befuddling that no one on Richwine’s committee seems to have been aware of this (in particular Jencks, who has written on these issues in the past).

It is time for antediluvian academics to step aside and give more space to the new generations of scholars that are able to engage in a critique of the all-too-dominant idea that race is merely a social construct but without falling into an antiquated racial essentialism. It is time for a real national dialogue on race that will start new conversations. Our classrooms are a good place to begin these discussions.

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Diego A. von Vacano is Associate Professor of Political Science at Texas A&M University. He is the author of The Color of Citizenship: Race, Modernity and Hispanic/Latin American Political Thought (Oxford UP) and is writing a new book on immigrant identities. He holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

{ 36 comments }

jonathan May 13, 2013 at 9:04 am

I believe Richwine made the argument that the subclass of people who immigrate to the US have lower IQs. The same argument was made 100 years ago about Jews, Italians, etc. You can dig up these wonderfully stupid pieces about the low IQs of Jewish immigrants.

Frank Youell May 14, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Jonathan,

100 years ago it was already well known that Jews had high IQs. 7% of the entering Harvard class in 1900 was Jewish. By 1920 is was way over 20%.

You are just repeating a dumb line from Stephen Jay Gould (now universally recognized as a fraud) about the work of Professor Goddard. Here is what Goddard really thought about Jews.

“In 1927, he supervised a Master’s thesis entitled “The Intelligence of Jews compared with Non-Jews”, which was published by Ohio State University Press. In his introduction, Goddard said that it proved that Jews are more intelligent than Gentiles and his conclusion was substantiated by the constant persecution of the Jews, “for we are seldom jealous of our inferiors.””

Read it all over at “Early IQ tests on Jews with low scores”

jonathan May 14, 2013 at 4:51 pm

I have never read Gould’s book on this – what’s it called The Mismeasure of Man or something like that? I read his column in SciAm but, not to speak ill of the dead, his work wasn’t interesting to me. I could never do more than skim his popularizations of science.

To be more precise, I thought the idea of “punctuated equilibrium”, which is still quoted as something, was essentially nonsensical; if it meant lots of activity following periods of relative inactivity, with lots of selection, etc. then fine because that’s essentially what Darwin said, but if it meant skipping intermediate stages in the rush then it was a bunch of hooey. I note that Gould and his coauthor – name escapes me – almost said the latter in their first version but backed off it. I think the long shelf life of “punctuated equilibrium” is akin to the rule that discoveries in math be named for the wrong person. And perhaps to American chauvinism that our guy “corrected” Darwin.

But that said, you make the elemental error of thinking you know what another person is thinking. A better criticism would be that you disagree with my comment and here’s why. You have no idea what I’m thinking.

Again, as I said in another post, I don’t care what some experts thought about Jewish IQ in 1900 or 1920 or whatever. I know the popular views because I’ve read books that discuss the popular discussion and political arguments about the IQs of the immigrant hordes then polluting our shores. (Which, btw, included my family.) This was the general belief. I would put Richwine’s work in that category. In those days, you could find specific writings that talked about how we were receiving the refuse of Europe and that these would bring down the quality of Americans. That some people didn’t believe that is, I would hope, self-evident.

One of my favorite books, btw, is about attitudes towards the Jews at the end of the 19thC, mostly in Vienna but also in Austria-Germany generally. Lots of quotations from articles and books that describe the Jewish ability to mimic – and that, btw, was limited to Germanic Jews, not the lower class Eastern Jews. These described the limits of Jewish intelligence as essentially non-creative, as more of a repeating back like a smart parrot. The neat thing is this stuff was reaching a peak in 1905.

Frank Youell May 14, 2013 at 5:37 pm

J,

If you didn’t get your ideas about the alleged low IQs of Jews from Gould, I retract my claim.

Where did you get this notion? The dominant view by the 1920s was that Jews were “too smart” and had to be kept out of elite institutions (Harvard imposed quotas after 1920).

As for the IQs and the immigration reforms of 1917, 1921, and 1924, you have it wrong. This is a modern PC myth (that discussions of IQ led to immigration restrictions).

See ” Intelligence tests and the Immigration Act of 1924. Snyderman, Mark; Herrnstein, R. J. American Psychologist, Vol 38(9), Sep 1983, 986-995. doi: ”

Abstract

“It is often claimed that the racially biased Immigration Act of 1924 was passed with the help of the intelligence-testing community of the period. The claim consists of 2 components: first, that the intelligence testing community saw its test data on social and ethnic differences as favoring a discriminatory immigration policy and, second, that the US Congress relied to some significant extent on the testing community and/or its data. An examination of the historical record failed to uncover any support for either component of the claim. The testing community did not generally view its findings as favoring restrictive immigration policies like those in the 1924 Act, and Congress took virtually no notice of intelligence testing. (35 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)”

Wonks Anonymous May 13, 2013 at 10:25 am

“since, as work by Nell Irvin Painter reminds us, there were many ‘white races’—not just one—at previous historical times”
Socially speaking, European immigrants to the U.S were always considered to be of the same race and never treated like blacks or native americans.
http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.1086/666383?uid=2&uid=4&sid=21102278349607

I looked at the bios on your “Reconsidering Race” page. Lots of sociologists, some anthropologists and a political scientist or two, but no geneticists. That’s a big gaping hole if you want to discuss what impact recent genetic findings should have on our understanding.

jonathan, there is a myth that IQ tests showed Jewish immigrants had low scores at the beginning of the century. The origin of the claim is that the tests were devised in the first place to detect mental retardation, and were applied to individual immigrants already thought to be retarded. This was to see if the tests could be applied across cultures while still giving the correct result, psychometricians never thought Jews had low IQs.

jonathan May 13, 2013 at 12:05 pm

I know about the “myth” but that isn’t the point, which is that people argued Jews and other immigrants had lower IQ’s and that they should thus be excluded. Your point is that in actuality the testing didn’t show this. Whoopee! The argument made then was somewhat similar: that the class of people coming over, notably the uncivilized Eastern Jews and Southern Italians, were of lower IQ than not only “whites” but civilized, essentially Germanic Jews and Northern Italians. This is the same nonsense Richwine apparently believes.

Dan Nexon May 13, 2013 at 12:44 pm

The article that you link to makes two relevant arguments: (1) the non-white/white boundary in the US has been relatively stable and (2) certain whites were viewed as racially inferior to other whites at various times. So it supports what you say, but what you say is not, in fact, directly responsive to the claim that there were many ‘white races.’ The citation supports that claim, verbatim.

Frank Youell May 14, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Of course, some whites have been viewed as having higher IQs than other whites. It’s just true. Why some groups test higher (genes vs. culture) and what it means are different matters. The New York Times has published numerous articles about Jewish IQs. See

“Researchers Say Intelligence and Diseases May Be Linked in Ashkenazic Genes By NICHOLAS WADE Published: June 3, 2005″

Is the New York Times a racist, white nationalist rag? Give me a break.

Oliver L. May 13, 2013 at 3:05 pm

“Socially speaking, European immigrants to the U.S were always considered to be of the same race and never treated like blacks or native americans.”

Surely you must be joking (JSTOR reference aside), European immigrants were never treated as poorly as native Americans or African-Americans but to assert that they were uniformly seen as the “same” as and/or equal to Anglo-Americans is farcical, e.g. the discrimination faced in hiring and housing by the Irish, mass lynching of Italian migrant laborers down South, the poverty and dislocating of Acadians, the massive wave of Germanophobia during the First World War and so on. Even the Welsh were politically disempowered by the English in decades even *before* the country was founded (county lines outside Philadelphia were designed to divide communities of Welsh immigrants from each other [Bryn Mawr, Bala Cynwyd, etc.]).

Oliver L. May 13, 2013 at 3:07 pm

P.S. This should be understood in the context of the usage of the word “race” at the time, it was used to refer to national groups (i.e. “The English are a proud race”).

jonathan May 13, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Absolutely true about Europeans not being considered “white”. There’s even a book “How the Irish Became White”.

And of course another disfavored group considered to be of below “white” intelligence was Asians, particularly the Chinese.

Oliver L. May 14, 2013 at 3:43 pm

I don’t know about historically (although I have read that anti-Chinese policies in California have been described as the most specific and comprehensive anti-immigrant legislation ever enacted into law in the United States) but IIRC The Bell Curve posited that East Asians have higher IQs than whites/Caucasians.

Barry May 23, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Remember that somebody could be not ‘white’ but not ‘black’ – (American) Indians, people of Asian ancestry, etc.

Frank Youell May 14, 2013 at 5:00 pm

“mass lynching of Italian migrant laborers down South”

Wrong planet folks. Never happened. Check facts before you post.

“the discrimination faced in hiring and housing by the Irish”

Generally not true. See “”No Irish Need Apply”:A Myth of Victimization “

Steve Sailer May 16, 2013 at 12:17 am

Who can forget that stunning scene in “Gone with the Wind” where Scarlett O’Hara’s last name is uncovered and she is immediately sold into slavery for being Irish?

Paul May 13, 2013 at 4:48 pm

The author’s attempt to say that it’s “settled” science that race is socially constructed is, shall we say, not quite true. Maybe not among scholars in the softer sciences, but in the world of evolutionary biology and psychology the debate has been pretty fierce for some time with advocates on both sides of the issue going at it (and advocates on both sides hailing from some pretty prestigious institutions. People forget that Hernstein and Murray’s Bell Curve book (so reviled by the critical race theory crowd) actually garnered the public support in the WSJ among a veritable pantheon of prestigious psychometricians….

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:WSJ-Gottfredson.png

See also:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/02/science/arthur-r-jensen-who-set-off-debate-on-iq-dies.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

I don’t have a dog in this fight, but it pains me to see ideologues cling to the answers that make them sleep better at night rather than go where the data lead them. There’s no open and shut case on a lot of this stuff. Yet lefty academics are so afraid of saying something un-PC at cocktail hour that they buy into the “race is entirely socially constructed” line full hook and sinker….

Frank Youell May 14, 2013 at 3:25 pm

“It beyond belief that, in the year 2013, there are still some that want to posit that there is a genetic basis for race.”

Wow is that funny. It looks like the majority of geneticists (particularly population geneticists) believe their is biological basis for race. Of course, the sociologists and anthropologists typically don’t.

So the people who actually study the issue say it’s true and the PC crowd says that it is not.

From the far right-wing New York Times…

“Gene Study Identifies 5 Main Human Populations
By NICHOLAS WADE http://www.nytimes.com/ads/bet

Scientists studying the DNA of 52 human groups from around the world have concluded that people belong to five principal groups corresponding to the major geographical regions of the world: Africa, Europe, Asia, Melanesia and the Americas.

The study, based on scans of the whole human genome, is the most thorough to look for patterns corresponding to major geographical regions. These regions broadly correspond with popular notions of race, the researchers said in interviews.

Several scientific journal editors have said references to race should be avoided. But a leading population geneticist, Dr. Neil Risch of Stanford University, argued recently that race was a valid area of medical research because it reflects the genetic differences that arose on each continent after the ancestral human population dispersed from its African homeland.

“Neil’s article was theoretical and this is the data that backs up what he
said,” Dr. Feldman said.

But Dr. Feldman said the finding essentially confirmed the popular conception of race. He said precautions should be taken to make sure the new data coming out of genetic studies were not abused.”

Oliver L. May 14, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Just to be clear you accuse Prof. von Vacano of asserting that race is entirely socially constructed, if you look up the conference he recently hosted (https://reconsideringrace.wordpress.com/) you can see in the overview that one of the goals is to interrogate the social constructivist position from a biomedical perspective (there were at least two “hard” scientists there, Jay Kaufman of McGill University, Epidemiology & Biostatistics and Sandra Soo-Jin Lee of Stanford University, Center for Biomedical Ethics).

Frank Youell May 14, 2013 at 5:44 pm

OL,

Prof. von Vacano wrote

“It beyond belief that, in the year 2013, there are still some that want to posit that there is a genetic basis for race.”

Yes, he does believe that race is a social construct. Other people at the conference might not share his views. However, his view is quite clear.

Lenny May 14, 2013 at 6:16 pm

“It beyond belief that, in the year 2013, there are still some that want to posit that there is a genetic basis for race.”

I could well imagine our learned professor fitting in with his colleagues featured in this article published in The Nation:

http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/comm/steen/cogweb/Debate/Ehrenreich.html

When social psychologist Phoebe Ellsworth took the podium at a recent interdisciplinary seminar on emotions, she was already feeling rattled. Colleagues who’d presented earlier had warned her that the crowd was tough and had little patience for the reduction of human experience to numbers or bold generalizations about emotions across cultures. Ellsworth had a plan: She would pre-empt criticism by playing the critic, offering a social history of psychological approaches to the topic. But no sooner had the word “experiment” passed her lips than the hands shot up. Audience members pointed out that the experimental method is the brainchild of white Victorian males. Ellsworth agreed that white Victorian males had done their share of damage in the world but noted that, nonetheless, their efforts had led to the discovery of DNA. This short-lived dialogue between paradigms ground to a halt with the retort: “You believe in DNA?”

If our learned professor was encamped in the science faculty there would be no toleration for his creationist, anti-science, viewpoint, but because he’s a political scientist he’s given free reign to spout off his creationist nonsense and to likely hold his students accountable to this nonsensical, faith-based, vision of race.

Frank Youell May 14, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Here are some of the hard facts you have to overcome to claim race doesn’t exist.

1. Forensic anthropologists have no problem identifying the race of crime victims from human remains. That demonstrates systematic racial variation. If the Lewontin model was correct, that would not be possible.

2. Computers can determine race from DNA with very near 100% accuracy. If Lewontin was correct, the much greater in-race variation (versus between race variation would make than impossible).

In addition take a look at the following from Wikipedia.

“In the 2007 paper “Genetic Similarities Within and Between Human Populations”, Witherspoon et al. attempt to answer the question, “How often is a pair of individuals from one population genetically more dissimilar than two individuals chosen from two different populations?”. The answer depends on the number of polymorphisms used to define that dissimilarity, and the populations being compared. When they analysed three geographically distinct populations (European, African and East Asian) and measured genetic similarity over many thousands of loci, the answer to their question was “never”. However, measuring similarity using smaller numbers of loci yielded substantial overlap between these populations. Rates of between-population similarity also increased when geographically intermediate and admixed populations were included in the analysis.”

Never.

mike May 13, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Read the last paragraph Paul

Paul May 13, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Fair enough, but which statement of the author are we to believe?

The author also wrote:

” It [is] beyond belief that, in the year 2013, there are still some that want to posit that there is a genetic basis for race.”

If it’s unbelievable that one ought to hold such a position then why would we need scholarship and debate in this area… I’ll call that last paragraph what it is: academic CYA from a political theorist out of his intellectual depth on matters more appropriately left to evolutionary psychologists and geneticists….

Oliver L. May 14, 2013 at 5:58 am

In the counter-example you cite I thought it was pretty clear (although not completely explicit in that one sentence) that the author was referring to 19th century deterministic ways of defining race, in the larger context of the piece it’s clear that’s not what he’s defending (at the same time the conference he’s describing sounds like it was also designed to challenge purely constructivist notions of race).

In any case expert voices on geneticism would be certainly add to the debate but I would hardly say the subject should be “left to them” considering historically it’s been those from the hard rather than soft sciences who have endowed the concept of race with qualities of (pseudo-)scientific legitimacy that consciously or unconsciously deny the extent to which it is (also) a product of a sociopolitical agenda.

The Anti-Gnostic May 13, 2013 at 9:06 pm

This is a political refutation of Richwine, not a scholarly one. Everyone agrees with the first point: Hispanic is a linguistic classification. Nobody seriously believes that Sammy Sosa and Pope Francis are both simply ‘Hispanic.’ The second point is actually a hilariously transparent out for the author once the human genome project hits high gear: interbreeding will shortly render all these racial distinctions meaningless! Fine, Professor Vacano; we can start the experiment with your daughters. The third point is just bluster. You don’t get to be associate professor at any major university by scoffing at the notion that intelligence can be discerned from testing. Otherwise, I’m sure there are plenty of mestizos and indo-Americans or, for that matter, rural white crackers who will gladly do Prof. Vacano’s work for cheaper.

Lenny May 13, 2013 at 9:56 pm

who wrote a dissertation on the purported low IQ of immigrants.

Shouldn’t that be documented rather than purported?

It beyond belief that, in the year 2013, there are still some that want to posit that there is a genetic basis for race.

If I were in your shoes I wouldn’t find it advisable to rely on this favorite argument of Intelligent Design advocates – the God in the Gaps rationale. Simply because you’re ignorant about the genetic basis for race doesn’t imply that there is any merit to your position.

A computer program tells us otherwise:

What makes the current study, published in the February issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics, more conclusive is its size. The study is by far the largest, consisting of 3,636 people who all identified themselves as either white, African-American, East Asian or Hispanic. Of these, only five individuals had DNA that matched an ethnic group different than the box they checked at the beginning of the study. That’s an error rate of 0.14 percent.

According to Neil Risch, PhD, a UCSF professor who led the study while he was professor of genetics at Stanford, the findings are particularly surprising given that people in both African-American and Hispanic ethnic groups often have a mixed background. “We might expect these individuals to cross several different genetic clusters,” Risch said. This is especially true for Hispanics who are often a mix of Native American, white and African-American ancestry. But that’s not what the study found. Instead, each self-identified racial/ethnic group clumped into the same genetic cluster. . . .

For each person in the study, the researchers examined 326 DNA regions that tend to vary between people. These regions are not necessarily within genes, but are simply genetic signposts on chromosomes that come in a variety of different forms at the same location.

Without knowing how the participants had identified themselves, Risch and his team ran the results through a computer program that grouped individuals according to patterns of the 326 signposts. This analysis could have resulted in any number of different clusters, but only four clear groups turned up. And in each case the individuals within those clusters all fell within the same self-identified racial group.

“This shows that people’s self-identified race/ethnicity is a nearly perfect indicator of their genetic background,” Risch said.

There is nothing inherent, natural, or ‘genetic’ in the category of “Hispanic.” There are many people of European ancestry in Latin America, but there are also many of Amerindian origins, African descent, and a vast majority whose origins are a mix of ethnicities, including East Asian, Jewish, Arab, and practically every other group in the world (I myself, for example, am of Aymara, Spanish, German, and Portuguese origin).

This is the argument that you’re going to rest your case on? Really? This argument implies that the popular usage of the term Hispanic maps equally to every group you mention and that there is no one group, one ancestry, which dominates. We’re just as likely to encounter a Jew from Argentina, a Spaniard from Spain and a mestizo from Mexico when we set out to identify Hispanics in the US.

Now if this equal distribution doesn’t exist and we don’t have many Hispanic Jewish Argentinians being smuggled across the Mexican border into the US and the reality of our immigration problem deals with a particular subset of Hispanics, then it seems kind of silly to me to object to the argument being advanced by Richwine that Hispanic is not a racial category, when in fact, the overlap in the US between the cultural and linguistic category of Hispanic and the genetic grouping of Central American Mestizos and Caribbean Mulattoes is pretty strong. Would your objection to the use of Hispanic as an identifier vanish if Richwine had instead used the term Mestizo?

Our workshop examined the idea of ‘race’ in light of recent genetics and genomic research in order to see whether it has consequences for our conceptualization of ‘racial’ identities and categories, and also for policies related to health disparities.

And why should we care about this workshop? You’re investing authority to this workshop and the material presented there. Here you are telling us that Richwine has done shoddy work and your rebuttal takes the form of Appeal to Authority. A workshop organized by YOU and filled to the brim with sociologists and a token epidemiologist. Where were the scholars who were going to contest your conceptualization of race? Real geneticists who deal with this issue and could educate you scholars of race who seem to prefer the insular bubble that you’ve created for yourself.

The New York Times:

Last fall, the prestigious journal Nature Genetics devoted a large supplement to the question of whether human races exist and, if so, what they mean. The journal did this in part because various American health agencies are making race an important part of their policies to best protect the public – often over the protests of scientists. In the supplement, some two dozen geneticists offered their views. Beneath the jargon, cautious phrases and academic courtesies, one thing was clear: the consensus about social constructs was unraveling. Some even argued that, looked at the right way, genetic data show that races clearly do exist.

There are many layers to race and there clearly are social meanings attached to race but there is also a genetic basis and this workshop of yours, judging solely by the invited speakers, effectively shut out the voices you sociologists didn’t want to hear.

but not in the way that people like Richwine want to argue.

I do admire your failed attempt to position yourself as knowledgeable about this topic but if I had to place a wager on whether you or Richwine had the more sophisticated and nuanced understanding of race, my money would be on Richwine for his position understands your viewpoint and then adds from other disciplines and isn’t as blinded by ideology as yours seems to be. Less bias on his part, more depth of understanding, more multidisciplinary pools of knowledge to draw from, so what’s not to like.

Recent research shows that humans share about 97% of the same genetic material with orangutans (an animal beloved by visitors to this blog). It also tells us that orangutans are more genetically diverse among themselves than are humans. In other words, people are more alike, across regional populations, than we are different.

It’s observations like this which make this essay of yours so painful to read. This is simply warmed over Lewontinism and it’s been discredited and yet you trot it out in order to discredit Richwine. That’s pretty rich.

The genetics of race are found in the correlational structure of the genome, not in a simply count of alleles which differ.

Secondly, similarity and difference in the genome completely omit the role of influence or function. Small genotypic differences can produce significant phenotypic differences.

Yes, we should take the genomics revolution as a challenge to simple social-constructivist views of race, but we cannot make the error of thinking that it validates a reification of the complex sociopolitical categories that we call ‘races.’

Stephen, Stephen J. Gould, is that you visiting us from beyond? The sooner we can bury this charlatan’s agitprop alongside him the better off society will be.

Who exactly is reifying race? You know what I’ve seen over the years? The rabid determinists are all on the environmental side.

Race is a complex categorization which encompasses many facets but the variation, the exceptions to the rules, are minor in scale compared to the common features which stick together under the racial category. We develop more understanding of race and racial groups by observing the common ties within such groups than we do by ignoring the commonalities and putting the spotlight on the exceptions and then using the exceptions to argue that the category doesn’t even exist or if it does exist that it has no usefulness in either society or public policy.

When you find some public policy advocacy group dominating a debate with their reified concept of race, then lets talk about the danger that poses. As it stands this is the equivalent of snipe hunting, a never ending journey through the wilds on the hunt for the elusive snipe and never finding him.

It may be true that some populations share some genetic markers among themselves more than with others, but these differences are minimal.

Minimal is a value judgement. Minimal by what scale? A deletion of only 3 nucleotides in the CFTR gene results in Cystic Fibrosis. Is a person afflicted with CF minimally different from a person not so afflicted?

Richwine’s error is to think that IQ is a stable phenotype that reflects universal intelligence.

I don’t believe you. Simple as that. I’ve read his dissertation and he doesn’t make this declaration nor does he advance arguments established upon this concept. As I noted above, Richwine clearly has a more thorough and nuanced understanding of this issue than you, and what’s surprising is that he wasn’t an invited speaker at your workshop. Imagine that. Someone who could stand toe to toe with your group of sociologists and challenge your biased understanding of this issue and he, and those who share his expertise, are not to be heard from.

we can underscore that even IQ test results are culturally-shaped, and not some measure of a primordial, biological mental ability.

Where are you getting this stuff from? It’s like the Mismeasure of Man has been resurrected from the garbage dump of history, cleaned off, and rehabilitated.

Let me attempt a generous reading of your point. Let’s grant you your claim of cultural bias. Society is culturally biased too. It does no good to have a great intelligence in finding water in the desert if you live in Western civilization. IQ tests measure and predict for qualities which are important to living in modernity.

Tell us how a simple reaction time test is culturally loaded? See that flash on the screen, well press this button the very moment you see it. Reaction time tests have high correlation to IQ. Never mind the physiological correlates found in brain structure.

It is both morally and intellectually disingenuous to propose what Borjas et al. have been advocating for years now. To claim to favor more immigration of those with “higher IQ’s” or more human capital flies in the face of the fact that low-human capital immigrants contribute profoundly to US economic growth due to their low wages in key industries such as construction, agriculture, and also the service sector.

I’m assuming that you wrote this with a straight face. Kudos sir, kudos. Most of us couldn’t write something so intellectually weak and hope to have it accepted as a serious thought.

First, you may think that Borjas is morally and intellectually disingenuous for advancing his position but you have no grounds to state this unequivocally. I utterly reject your position.

You do attempt, and fail, at supporting your position by noting that low human capital immigrants do contribute to US economic growth. The problem here is that a child who gives his paper route money to his papers also contributes to the economic well being of his family but his contribution cannot approach the cost that the parents incur in raising him, so the pertinent issue really isn’t contribution, it’s net contribution and most low human capital immigrants are not net fiscal contributors to society. If such folks were net contributors to society then we should expect to see campaigns advocating that students drop out of high school rolling out anytime for these low human capital workers are a net benefit to society.

In manufacturing, Hispanics are underpaid relative to their economic value, as sociologist Arthur Sakamoto has shown.

This conclusion likely rests on some convoluted measure of economic value while bypassing the straightforward calculation of wages paid to such workers reflecting the issue of labor oversupply in relation to skills and demand for such labor.

Ethically, it is unacceptable for a modern liberal-democratic state to promote high-IQ selectivity in immigration, for this policy advocates unequal treatment rather than uniform standards for all

Hogwash. The purpose of an immigration system is to create benefits for the citizens of a country, so the importation of immigrants who have a higher likelihood of being net tax contributors to society works to advance the ethical goals of that society, such as reducing the tax obligations of existing citizens.

Unequal treatment does not connote unethical behavior or standards. Low income taxpayers pay a different rate than high income taxpayers. That is unequal TREATMENT. Many sports are gender segregated. We treat people differently based on age.

As educators, we have a special responsibility to provide non-superficial answers to complex questions

Then up your game because this post of yours is working to cross purposes with this stated aim.

John May 14, 2013 at 7:29 am

I totally agree with you ! Finally someone with a high IQ !

I especially agree with you about the fact that that dult had a problem with the use of Hispanic. You’re right, maybe he should have used Mestizo. He actually does clarify on page 60 of his dissertation. “Hispanics can be of any race, but they are most often “Mestizo” — a mixture of European and Amerindian background.” They are half right …haha. I mean they are half white. Any drop of anything else makes you dumb. WHITE POWER !

Oliver L. May 14, 2013 at 7:47 am

White power? You do know that The Bell Curve argues that Asians have higher IQs than whites?

JasonR May 14, 2013 at 11:02 am

What’s interesting is that these arguments meant to discredit the idea of group racial differences are equally applicable to the idea of differences in intelligence, in general. If IQ isn’t a sound basis for selecting immigrants, it follows that it can’t be used for education and work-place assessments.

Barry May 23, 2013 at 3:15 pm

“I do admire your failed attempt to position yourself as knowledgeable about this topic but if I had to place a wager on whether you or Richwine had the more sophisticated and nuanced understanding of race, my money would be on Richwine for his position understands your viewpoint and then adds from other disciplines and isn’t as blinded by ideology as yours seems to be. Less bias on his part, more depth of understanding, more multidisciplinary pools of knowledge to draw from, so what’s not to like.”

‘Hispanic’ as a race, a certain group of immigrants will always have lower IQ’s, and thanking Charles Murray as an intellectual advisor?

rijkswaanvijand May 15, 2013 at 3:27 pm

‘What makes the current study, published in the February issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics, more conclusive is its size. The study is by far the largest, consisting of 3,636 people who all identified themselves as either white, African-American, East Asian or Hispanic. Of these, only five individuals had DNA that matched an ethnic group different than the box they checked at the beginning of the study. That’s an error rate of 0.14 percent.’
And that’s also totally irrelevant; if race is a social construct, it’s probably a construct that relates to certain physical parameters, skin-colour for example. It would be no surprise if any such parameters would influence self-perception of race, and thus the answers of respondents.

So unless you can prove the four ‘signposts’ used in this study do not in any way correspond to physical traits that might correlate to self-perception of race, this study does not in any way disprove the social construct theory.

rijkswaanvijand May 15, 2013 at 3:31 pm

signposts should be clusters

Steve Sailer May 16, 2013 at 12:20 am

From my FAQ on the Richwine Brouhaha:

Q. But how can test-givers tell who is Hispanic?
A. They just ask them. It’s called “self-identification.”

Q. But is that scientific?
A. It’s good enough for government work. The government spends billions to count Hispanics, and it’s all done just by letting anybody check whether or not they are Hispanic.

Q. But if Hispanics are an ethnicity, not a race, how can we know that the next generation of Hispanic immigrants won’t be very different?
A. I could imagine an event that would drive up new Hispanic immigrants’ children’s test scores substantially: another revolution in Mexico. If rich Mexicans, like the world’s richest man Carlos Slim, had to flee for their lives from Mexico, the next generation of Mexican newcomers might be a lot like the prosperous Cubans who arrived in Miami after Fidel.

But the way immigration from Mexico has been working since the end of the last revolution almost a century ago is via family chain migration. New immigrants tend to belong to the extended families of old immigrants.

Q. But that’s genetic determinism!
A. Actually, it’s both nature and nurture. If, say, a young fellow from Sinaloa moves in with his uncle in East LA, the newcomer shares a lot, genetically and culturally, with the old-timer.

http://takimag.com/article/frequently_asked_questions_about_the_jason_richwine_brouhaha_steve_sailer/print#ixzz2TQSM6NuG

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Oliver L August 9, 2013 at 6:40 am

“Q. But how can test-givers tell who is Hispanic?
A. They just ask them. It’s called “self-identification.”

Your response presumes that Latino/as in general are familiar with the term; many are not as it is a term used only in (American) English afaik not Spanish; thus the sampling is potentially egregiously skewed by excluding large numbers of especially recent immigrants who are less familiar with American terminology.

(Also some Latinos who know the term may nonetheless not consider themselves as such, for example blond-haired blue-eyed Brazilians who might think the term applies only to Mexicans and/or Puerto Ricans.)

dan August 8, 2013 at 11:44 pm

first we must define “race” in order to properlly discuss it. Is it a certain number of common genetic markers? is it a certain shade of pigmentation? is it being born in a certain region of the world? is it being part of a particular religion/culture? is it the geneticist or the anthropologist the rabbi or pope or tyrant that defines it.
What about the eastern europeans are they asian or european. what about the blonde haired puerto rican with sickle cell? is he african or european? what if president obama’s genome expresses more of his german markers than his african genetics. does he qualify as european?
To say that there are not similarities among populations is nonesense. some call it a generic vague term like “race”.
To base policy and promote myths based on these similarities is also nonesense. We like the idea of race/religion for the same reason any culture accepts it. because it makes us feel special. We are “superior” “native” “civilized” ” gods chosen” whatever tickles your ego. Honestly it is irrelevant unless it sought as a tool to control others.

Oliver Lu August 9, 2013 at 6:34 am

Of course there are some similarities among populations the point is that the percentage of genes relating to physiognomy/physiology is actually very low (2-3%?), not simply that these visual-physical differences are then used to try to control certain people.

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