Andrew Sullivan and Charles Murray on Richwine
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May 15, 2013, 02:31 PM
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I should know better than to bring this up again. But the effective firing of a researcher, Heritage’s Jason Richwine, because of his Harvard dissertation should immediately send up red flags about intellectual freedom. ... 

What I do want to insist is that the premise behind almost all the attacks – that there is no empirical evidence of IQ differences between broad racial categories – is not true. It is true (pdf), if you accept the broad racial categories Americans use as shorthand for a bewilderingly complex DNA salad (a big if, of course). There’s no serious debate about that. The serious debate is about what importance to assign to the concept of “IQ” and about the possible reasons for the enduring discrepancies: environment, nurture, culture, or genes – or some variation of them all? 

... But the core point about any dissertation is a simple one: does it hold up under scholarly scrutiny? Richard Zeckhauser, the Frank P. Ramsey Professor of Political Economy at Harvard, is on record as saying that “Jason’s empirical work was careful. 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.” One of those advisors was the very serious and very liberal scholar Christopher Jencks. 

I haven’t had time to read the thing, and some have cast aspersions on it after a browse. But it is abhorrent to tar someone researching data as a racist and hound him out of a job simply because of his results, honestly discovered and analyzed. ...

But the idea that natural selection and environmental adaptation stopped among human beings the minute we emerged in the planet 200,000 years ago – and that there are no genetic markers for geographical origin or destination – is bizarre. It would be deeply strange if Homo sapiens were the only species on earth that did not adapt to different climates, diseases, landscapes, and experiences over hundreds of millennia. We see such adaptation happening very quickly in the animal kingdom. Our skin color alone – clearly a genetic adaptation to climate – is, well, right in front of one’s nose. 

But what the Harvard students are saying is worse than creating a straw man. They are saying that even if it is true that there are resilient differences in IQ in broad racial groupings, such things should not be studied at Harvard because their “end result can only be furthering discrimination.” You can’t have a more explicit attack on intellectual freedom than that. They even seem to want the PhD to be withdrawn. ...

That’s my view in a nutshell. What on earth are these “liberals” so terrified of, if not the truth? ... 

But please don’t say truly stupid things like race has no biological element to it or that there is no data on racial differences in IQ (even though those differences are mild compared with overwhelming similarity). Denying empirical reality is not a good thing in any circumstance. In a university context, it is an embrace of illiberalism at its most pernicious and seductive: because its motives are good.

Charles Murray writes in National Review:
In Defense of Jason Richwine  

His resignation is emblematic of a corruption that has spread throughout American intellectual discourse. 

... I have a personal interest in this story because Jason Richwine was awarded a fellowship from my employer, the American Enterprise Institute, in 2008–09, and I reviewed the draft of his dissertation. A rereading of the dissertation last weekend confirmed my recollection that Richwine had meticulously assembled and analyzed the test-score data, which showed exactly what he said they showed: mean IQ-score differences between Latinos and non-Latino whites, found consistently across many datasets and across time after taking factors such as language proficiency and cultural bias into account. I had disagreements then and now about his policy recommendations, but not about the empirical accuracy of his research or the scholarly integrity of the interpretations with which I disagreed. 

In resigning, Dr. Richwine joins distinguished company. The most famous biologist in the world, James D. Watson, was forced to retire from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 2007 because of a factually accurate remark to a British journalist about low IQ scores among African blacks. In 2006, Larry Summers, president of Harvard, had to resign after a series of attacks that began with his empirically well-informed remarks about gender differences. These are just the most visible examples of a corruption that has spread throughout American intellectual discourse: If you take certain positions, you will be cast into outer darkness. Whether your statements are empirically accurate is irrelevant. 

In academia, only the tenured can safely write on these topics. Assistant professors know that their chances of getting tenure will be close to zero if they publish politically incorrect findings on climate change, homosexuality, race differences, gender differences, or renewable energy. Their chances will not be much higher if they have published anything with a distinctly conservative perspective of any sort. To borrow George Orwell’s word, they will have proved themselves to be guilty of crimethink.