Two days ago, I published a diary asking how Jason Richwine could 'earn' a PhD from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government based on a dissertation arguing that the low IQ of Hispanics is reason to deny them immigration to the US.
My question was not why this douche wrote such obviously bigoted trash, but rather why his committee signed off on it...why they legitimized it? Bigots will be bigots, but there is something different when it is legitimized by a leading University.
Richwine's dissertation committee consisted of...
George J. Borjas (chair)
Richard J. Zeckhauser
Today, two of those committee members have spoken. You can find their weaselly bullshit below the fold...plus the even more weaselly bullshit of the Dean of the Kennedy School, David Ellwood.
Per Slate, Zeckhauser has defended Richwine's dissertation by saying that he thinks the empirical work was solid, with only the policy suggestions problematic.
“Jason’s empirical work was careful,” Zeckhauser told me over email. “Moreover, my view is that none of his advisors would have accepted his thesis had he thought that his empirical work was tilted or in error. However, Richwine was too eager to extrapolate his empirical results to inferences for policy.”So let me get this straight...Zeckhauser believes that Richwine's empirical evidence that hispanics are dumber than 'native whites' is good, its just Richwine's recommendation that these dumb hispanics be prevented from immigrating that's the problem? Is there any other way to read that?
George Borjas (Chair)
In an email to The Citizen, the student newspaper of the Kennedy School, Borjas wrote
“Jason’s research was sound. None of the members of the committee would have signed off on it if they thought that it was shoddy empirical work.So Basically, Borjas says Richwines work was "sound," and then says look over there...brown people are trying to enter the country! But there is one interesting thing about his claim to the soundness of Richwine's dissertation. Per Slate, Borjas claims that he doesn't really know fuck-all about IQ.
As to what it all means, I am not sure. I know people like to take empirical evidence like the one that Jason provides and run with it to “fix the world.” What they forget is that there is an objective function on the road. So, for example, take Jason’s work at Heritage that is the root cause of this whole episode. He finds that illegal immigration imposes a sizable fiscal burden on U.S. taxpayers. I have not read the report. I have not looked at the numbers. I have no idea if it stands up to scrutiny. But, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that it’s correct. How do we then fix the world? What are the policy implications?
Well, it depends on who you are rooting for. If you are rooting for the average U.S. taxpayer, the implication is clear and we should try to alleviate the problem raised by illegal immigration. If you are instead rooting for the many poor immigrants who are now living in the U.S. in much better circumstances than they left behind, then we can view current immigration policy as the largest anti-poverty program the universe has ever known, and the fact that there is a fiscal burden is just the price we need to pay to afford millions of people the opportunity to live the American dream.
So the real important question is: What is the objective of immigration policy? And I think that reasonable people can certainly disagree (and should be free to disagree) on the parameters of what it is we are trying to maximize.”
“I have never worked on anything even remotely related to IQ, so don't really know what to think about the relation between IQ, immigration, etc,” Borjas told me in an email. “In fact, as I know I told Jason early on since I've long believed this, I don't find the IQ academic work all that interesting. Economic outcomes and IQ are only weakly related, and IQ only measures one kind of ability. I've been lucky to have met many high-IQ people in academia who are total losers, and many smart, but not super-smart people, who are incredibly successful because of persistence, motivation, etc. So I just think that, on the whole, the focus on IQ is a bit misguided.”So, too sum up...Borjas says that he is sure Richwine's work was sound, but doesn't know anything about the subject, and thinks it all comes down to who you are 'rooting for.'
The sole 'liberal' member of the committee hasn't said a fucking word.
David T. Ellwood, Dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government
“I most certainly understand that this issue, as reported, troubles many people. In response I offer three thoughts. First, the views and conclusions of any graduate of this school are theirs alone, and do not represent the views of Harvard or the Kennedy School. Second, all Ph.D. dissertations are reviewed by a committee of scholars. In this case, the committee consisted of three highly respected and discerning faculty members who come from diverse intellectual traditions. Finally and most importantly, it is vital that an active and open debate of ideas occur in Universities and beyond them. Scholars and others who disagree with particular ideas or methods or who are unhappy with conclusions can and must openly engage in reasoned discussion and criticism, after looking fully and carefully at the work. It is through ongoing vigorous give and take that good ideas will ultimately emerge and weaker ones can be displaced.”And so, the Dean rides to the defense of his "highly respected and discerning faculty members," the same faculty members who so discerningly signed-off on low-rent eugenics that violates the basic tenets research--and in the case of Borjas, did so despite "never work(ing) on anything even remotely related to IQ."
–David T. Ellwood
Dean, Harvard Kennedy School
Ellwood also claims that the work of their students does not reflect the views of the Kennedy School. Odd, then why does the Kennedy School have dissertation committees, dissertation defenses and award degrees with Harvard's name on them? By awarding the degree, the Kennedy School is explicitly stating that the work of Richwine meets their 'standards.'
Finally, Ellwood calls on academic freedom. Ellwood apparently believes that claims that hispanics have lower IQs than whites is part of "reasoned discussion and criticism" rather than a long debunked racist theory argued only by the bigoted fringe.
I would like to end with a few quotes from The Citizen, the student newspaper of the Kennedy School. They say what needs to be said far better than I can, and their words damn Borjas, Zeckhauser, Jencks and Ellwood far better than my own.
Fernando Berdion del Valle, also a Masters in Public Policy candidate, added, “I am a student at the Harvard Kennedy School. I am a son of two immigrants. I am Hispanic. And I am angry. I am angry that someone, despite many years of undergraduate and post-graduate education, would devote his dissertation to the idea that: ‘Immigrants living in the U.S. today do not have the same level of cognitive ability as natives.’ I am angry that my former economics professor would chair this dissertation and approve it. But mostly, I’m angered that the Harvard Kennedy School would allow such obviously shoddy scholarship to qualify for a degree.”
23 student organizations at the Kennedy School have written a letter to the larger community condemning the dissertation, asking for a response from the administration for the paper’s “disturbing claims”Let's hope these forward thining students at the Kennedy School rapidly take the places of their retrograde faculty.
The letter continued, “Let us be clear that we believe in academic freedom as it is crucial to the functioning of a university. However, we also believe that putting forth claims of racial superiority based on inherent genetic advantage to be on par with those who have used pseudo-science throughout history to justify state-based hate.”
4:19 PM PT: Update: For those who are saying things about the students at the Kennedy School being privileged, conservative members of the 1%, I strongly suggest reading the article from the Citizen (linked above). This is the STUDENT newspaper of the Kennedy School.
I think it does a very good job of showing that the kids are alright.