OCALA, Fla., March 7, 2014 — Hopefully, most people remember who Jason Richwine is.
The brain behind the Heritage Foundation’s landmark study about immigration amnesty, he became an unintentional celebrity last spring due to his views on IQ and its relation to demographic groups.
In the past, he claimed that certain ethnic and racial groups have higher or lower IQs than others do. His doctoral dissertation — at Harvard, no less — focused on the intelligence levels of immigrants from various countries.
This all seemed well and good for Heritage. The conservative think tank hired Dr. Richwine roughly four years ago, and he seems to have gotten along well there. It was only when the open borders crowd started their usual grievance-peddling that serious problems developed.
Richwine was accused of being a racist, pseudo-scientist, and other things not mentionable here. Despite finding strong support from most of the right-leaning punditocracy, he ultimately stepped down from Heritage. Such a development prompted extensive criticism, and for many highlighted the increasingly politically correct nature of center-right institutions.
The Richwine brouhaha highlighted a very important social condition of ours. In a nutshell, it is that discussion of hereditary factors in human intelligence is taboo throughout much of American life.
Is there a chief reason for this?
“I don’t think it’s taboo among ordinary Americans,” Dr. Richwine says to Communities Digital News. “Everyone knows that there are natural differences in ability among individuals. It’s also not taboo among scientists who study intelligence. The taboo is restricted to journalists, politicians, and non-experts in other fields.”
Dr. Richwine quotes from a 2013 article he wrote for The Politico, in which it was asked “(w)hat causes so many in the media to react emotionally when it comes to IQ? Snyderman and Rothman believe it is a naturally uncomfortable topic in modern liberal democracies. The possibility of intractable differences among people does not fit easily into the worldview of journalists and other members of the intellectual class who have an aversion to inequality. The unfortunate — but all too human — reaction is to avoid seriously grappling with inconvenient truths. And I suspect the people who lash out in anger are the ones who are most internally conflicted.”
Few topics bring out so much conflict as money. In terms of finances, how do IQ levels typically relate to a country’s overall prosperity?
“Hard to image a prosperous society where few people can manage anything,” Dr. Robert Weissberg tells CDN. For decades, the University of Illionis, Urbana emeritus professor was a popular columnist, author, and public speaker. In 2012, he was fired by the National Review for his opinions about ancestry-related intelligence. This afforded him intense national exposure. Today, he continues to write about sociocultural relations.
Dr. Weissberg continues: “Try explaining regularly scheduled maintenance to a stupid person. They fix things only when they breakdown. Dumb people cannot even run a grocery store let along build airplanes.”
Steve Sailer is one of the few journalists who regularly writes about the relationship between intelligence and society. His relentlessly data-centric reportage has earned him no shortage of accolades and detractions. Sailer has managed to do what few other journalists dare: linking intelligence not only with economics, but political trends.
“There is a fairly high correlation among countries’ IQ scores, school achievement scores (such as the recently announced TIMSS and PIRLS or the PISA of a couple of years ago), and levels of prosperity,” Sailer explained to this journalist in 2012. “For example, countries such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore score well on tests of intelligence and school achievement and are good at technologically complex tasks. China isn’t yet a rich country, but its test scores suggest it has the cognitive capacity to become one.
“Does being smart help you get rich, or does being rich help you get smart? Probably both.
“The most interesting case is India. There are numerous smart and prosperous Indians in the U.S., but it’s not clear how representative they are of the billion-plus Indians back home. IQ tests and a PISA test given in a couple of Indian states have been less encouraging than in China.
“I would imagine, however, that if India improved its overall nutrition, sanitation, public health, and education, its domestic test scores would come more in line with those of overseas Indians.”