Monday, January 25, 2016

Charles Murray's Disingenuous Denial About Advocating Restriction of Immigration Based on IQ or Race

Stuart K. Hayashi

With the late Richard J. Herrnstein, Charles Murray co-authored The Bell Curve.  To my astonishment, some of my fellow Objectivists have arbitrarily denied to me that the book provides a racist and eugenicist argument.  It takes some mental contortions for someone who has read the book to deny its eugenicism, but I can understand how such a rationalization can be made.  The book does not say outright, "Blacks and Hispanics are inferior."  However, the book offers several premises that it purports to prove through rather turgid figures and terminology.  Then, based on those premises, the reader is intended to deduce specific conclusions.  One who follows the deductive chain of reasoning can discern that the book's conclusion does advocate what is, in practice, governmental discrimination against specific people based on their race.  The deductive chain of reasoning is as follows.

1. IQ is genetically inheritable -- between 40 percent and 80 percent.
2. IQ is fixed and congenital -- environmental conditioning and choices cannot reliably change it over time.  [A pedantic reply is offered to the Flynn Effect.]
3. IQ is the main predictor of competency -- that is, people's successes or failures in life.  High IQ directly correlates with high economic productivity.  IQ is inversely proportional to criminality -- lower-IQ people are prone to violent criminality.
4. IQ tests show disparities in races.  Jews and Asians receive the highest IQ scores.  In the middle are most whites.  Lowest IQ scorers are, respectively, Hispanics and then Africans. [This is Stuart's paraphrasing of the book's arguments.]

If you follow the deductive chain of reasoning, what conclusion do the authors expect you, as the reader, to deduce?  The authors expect you to deduce that if blacks and Hispanics have low IQs, and if IQs are fixed over time, and if IQ numbers are congenital determinants of economic productivity or violent criminality, then:

5. The implicit, deductive conclusion of the book: blacks and Hispanics, in aggregate, are doomed to be less economically productive and more criminally violent than other ethnic groups. [This is Stuart's paraphrasing of the book's arguments.]

Then the book puts forth [my phrasing, not the book's]:

6. Immigration policy should be determined by IQ.  The authors recommend that the system of family visas be replaced with a system where those with higher IQs get into the USA more easily and those with lower IQs face more hurdles.  This is not a complete replacement, though, merely a re-orienting, orienting away from the family-visa system and orienting toward an IQ-number-based system. [This is Stuart's paraphrasing of the book's arguments.]

What is the deductive conclusion to draw from this?

7. If points 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 are true -- if the authors recommend that lower-IQ people be impeded by Government Force from entering the USA, and blacks and Hispanics have lower IQs than other groups, then, in practice, implementation of the policy will necessarily result in an immigration system that becomes more implicitly discriminatory against black immigrants and Hispanic immigrants.  [This is Stuart's paraphrasing of the book's arguments.]

Concerning his protege Jason Richwine -- who makes similar rationalizations about IQ/Race Eugenics -- Charles Murray writes in National Review,

On Wednesday, the Washington Post revealed that Richwine’s 2009 Ph.D. dissertation at Harvard’s Kennedy School had said that, on average, Latinos have lower IQs than do non-Latino white Americans and the nation should consider incorporating IQ into immigration decisions. . . 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 [emphasis added].

Really?  Richwine's policy recommendation, in Charles Murray's phrasing, is that "nations should consider incorporating IQ into immigration decisions."  If they incorporate IQ into those decisions, and if they believe "Latinos have lower IQs than do non-native Latino white Americans," the result will be an immigration policy that does even more to exclude Latino immigration.    Then Murray says, "I had disagreements then and now about his policy recommendations..." meaning Murray is saying he does not agree with an immigration policy that would block immigrants with supposedly lower IQs, which would, in practice, result in immigration policy being even more stubborn in blocking Latino immigration.

What do Charles Murray and Richard J. Herrnstein themselves say on this in The Bell Curve?  This is from page 549:

...we believe the main purpose of immigration law is to serve America's interests [America meaning Americans already in the USA; not those trying to get in --S.H.].  It should be among the goals of public policy to shift the flow of immigrants away from those admitted under the nepotistic rules (which broadly encourages the reunification of relatives) [these are family visas --S.H.]and toward those admitted under competency rules [meaning higher-IQ groups are favored and lower-IQ groups are disfavored; one who agrees with The Bell Curve about specific races being associated with low IQs would deduce that competency rules would, in practice, result in fewer members of specific races entering the USA --S.H.] -- not to the total exclusion of nepotistic and humanitarian criteria but a shift. [Emphasis added.]
The Bell Curve argues that IQ is what determines competency, and some races outrank others in terms of IQ -- meaning some races outrank others in terms of competency.  Insofar as Jason Richwine's Ph.D. dissertation concludes that IQ should be incorporated into the federal government's decisions on who enters the USA and who does not, The Bell Curve is making essentially the same policy recommendation.  Charles Murray's denial does not make sense.