The controversy that erupted around my dissertation was just silly politicking. But, as with any Two Minutes Hate, a number of falsehoods were spread. Perhaps the most blatant was the claim that my dissertation called for a racially exclusive immigration policy. It did not, and I’m not sure where some people got the idea. The dissertation explicitly rejects a race-based policy and instead endorses immigrant selection on the basis of individual merit. The text could not have been any clearer:
Finally, as I emphasize throughout the whole text, nothing in this study suggests that immigrants should be treated on the basis of their group membership. Although the next chapter presents some facts about how IQ varies across countries and ethnic groups, immigrants—and, indeed, all people—should be considered purely as individuals whenever possible. Unlike Brigham’s A Study of American Intelligence, there is no racial or ethnic policy agenda here. One can deal frankly and soberly with group IQ differences while still subscribing to the classical liberal tradition of individualism. [p. 21]This is just one example in which the media’s command of the facts was, shall we say, weak. For more on the dissertation controversy, please see “Roundup of my responses” at the link to the left.
Update (3/15/2017): This page clearly has not reached enough journalists. Last October, a Slate writer named Dana Goldstein falsely accused me of arguing that “Latinos should be denied citizenship.” To its credit, Slate issued a full correction on the same day it appeared. Less credit goes to Ms. Goldstein herself, however. It turns out she had previously made the same false statement on her blog, which remains uncorrected to this day.
Worse still is The New Republic (TNR). Last week, managing editor Laura Reston falsely stated that my dissertation “advocated banning Hispanic immigrants.” Three and a half days and three emails from me later, TNR could muster only an “editor’s note” vaguely stating that the passage about my dissertation had been re-written to “clarify” my arguments. TNR gave no indication in the body text that there had been a change, no description of what the false statement said, no use of the word correction, and no clear acknowledgement that a mistake had even been made. Unsurprisingly, outlets that reprinted the TNR piece, such as America’s Voice, seem unaware of this “editor’s note” and continue to host the original version. Furthermore, there are at least two other factual errors (unrelated to me) in Ms. Reston’s piece, both of which TNR has yet to “clarify” at all.
It is remarkable that people trust anything that journalists say or write these days. I certainly don’t.