Slate: Jason Richwine Resigns and Is “No Longer with The Heritage Foundation”

May 10, 2013
4:10 PM

UPDATE: Just as we were about to post the following story about how Jason Richwine’s Harvard advisers were critical of his 2009 disseration, Slate’s David Weigel reported that Richwine is no longer with the Heritage Foundation:

The Heritage Foundation tells without much more detail. The full explanation:

Jason Richwine let us know he’s decided to resign from his position. He’s no longer employed by Heritage. It is our long-standing policy not to discuss internal personnel matters.

Here is the original story we had just published just minutes before word of Richwine’s resignation surfaced:

It was bound to happen that the Harvard advisers who were criticized for signing off on Heritage Foundation scholar Jason Richwine’s 2009 “IQ and Immigration Policy” dissertation would finally go on record. An article from Slate, called “The IQ Test” quotes those who knew Richwine during his time Cambridge, and basically concludes that several of Richwine’s friends and advisers thought that he “should have listened” to their advice of trying to produce a study about immigration, ethnicity, race, and intelligence.


Here is part of that story:

At the start of his dissertation, Richwine thanked his three advisers—George Borjas, Christopher Jenks, and Richard Zeckhauser—for being so helpful and so bold. Borjas “helped me navigate the minefield of early graduate school,” he wrote. “Richard Zeckhauser, never someone to shy away from controversial ideas, immediately embraced my work.”

Yet they don’t embrace everything Richwine’s done since. “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.”

Borjas’ own work on immigration and inequality has led to a few two-minutes-hate moments in the press. He wasn’t entirely convinced by Richwine, either.

“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.”

In addition, Zeckhauser also said this to Slate:

In my estimation, our School gives too much emphasis on moving from findings to policy implications in scholarly work. In many cases, merely presenting the facts would be a preferable way to go. That makes it much harder for one’s opponents to dismiss what you say, or to accuse you of manipulating facts to reach policy conclusions. Moreover, I believe that policy conclusions usually rest on one’s underlying values. If one complements one’s empirical assessments with values issues, those assessments get questioned, particularly if one addresses a controversial realm of policy, as Richwine surely did in his dissertation. In many contexts, one’s work will have a long run greater influence on policy if the facts are left to speak for themselves.

Furthermore, the Slate article describes how during that time Richwine was “winning fans on the nativist right.” One of the bigger examples mentioned was when Richwine “joined a panel” to discuss “a new book from Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.”

“Decades of psychometric testing,” said Richwine, “has indicated that at least in America you have Jews with the highest average IQ, usually followed by East Asians, and then you have non-Jewish whites, Hispanics, and then blacks. These are real differences. They’re not going to go away tomorrow.”