The Richwine Curve

Alright my dewy-eyed, upwardly-mobile sons and daughters of the American Revolution—it’s high time to put away them crisp-cornered, technicolor Trapper Keepers you got atop your desks because we’re fitting to have a little IQ Test here that’ll determine whether you spend the next 4 years on the AP track or if you get the privilege of associating with the motley crew of illiterates, autistics and problem children who we force feed ritalin year in and year out like a bunch of geese with exceptionally poor concentration skills. However, even if you have the attention span of puppy in a Chuck E Cheese ball pit, you mustn’t fret, because the test is only going to be 8 questions long and they’re all multiple choice so statistically speaking you should be able to get at least 1 right just by guessing. Now, pick up them Ticonderogas and get yourself a piece of college-rule so we can get started:

Question 1:

A janky car is

 a.

Set very low to the ground
 b.

Rare
 c.

Sleek and desirable
 d.

Beaten up
 e.

Foreign made

Question 2:

Find the answer that best completes the analogy: Iron: Pants : Relaxer : ?

 a.

muscles

 b.

carpet

 c.

hair

 d.

mood

 e.

leather

Question 3:

Rearrange the following letters to make a word and choose the category in which it fits.

GODAEB

 a.

occupation
 b.

animal
 c.

store
 d.

city

Question 4:

Which of the following does not belong here?

Cassava, Corn, Yuca, Yam,

 a.

Cassava
 b.

Corn
 c.

Yuca
 d.

Yam
 e.

They all belong

Are we all finished? Good. Now, I want you all to flip your paper over to the other side and answer the next 4 questions just like you did the first 4.

Question 1:

A fecund tree is

 a.

bearing lots of fruit
 b.

changing colors for fall
 c.

bending in the wind
 d.

dried out and dying
 e.

I don’t know

Question 2:

Find the answer that best completes the analogy: FRUGAL : MISERLY :: RASH : ?

 a.

arrogant
 b.

profligate
 c.

spendthrift
 d.

foolhardy
 e.

polite

Question 3:

Rearrange the following letters to make a word and choose the category in which it fits.

RAPETEKA

 a.

city
 b.

fruit
 c.

bird
 d.

vegetable

Question 4:

Which of the following does not belong here?

Apple, Marmalade, Cherry, Orange, Grape

 a.

Apple
 b.

Marmalade
 c.

Cherry
 d.

Orange
 e.

Grape

Alright children, before we get to the answers1, I am going to give you a choice. Since the other teachers and I don’t feel like spending every waking hour of the day pouring over standardized test results, we’re only going to be accepting the answers to 4 of the 8 questions. Right now, you have to choose whether you want me to grade the first set of questions or the second set. Just put a big star on whichever side of the paper you want us to grade and you’re done for the day.

Now, how many of you think that the choice of what set of questions to use would be grouped by race/ethnicity? For instance, if the class I was giving the tests to was located in a predominantly white, rural county in Iowa, I’d say there’d be pretty good odds that most of the students would want me to grade their answers to the second set of questions. I’ve never spent any time in rural Iowa, but my hunch is that the landscape isn’t dotted with bodegas selling black hair care products or grocery stores that have cassava in the produce aisle. On the other hand, if I gave these tests to a bunch of 9th graders in the Bronx, I’d say it’s safe to assume most of them would have me grade the first set of questions as there’s a dearth of fecund foliage in Morris Heights and I’d imagine the Sedgewick Houses aren’t exactly teeming with parakeets.

standardized-testing

IQ tests are a great test…of how good you are at taking tests

Both of the tests above are culturally biased. The only substantive difference between the two is that the second test is biased towards dominant upper-middle class white culture and, therefore, is representative of what you will find on a traditional IQ test. I present all this in light of a recent scandal that has erupted regarding a paper published by the Heritage Foundation alleging that providing amnesty for immigrants who have illegally entered the country would cost $6.3 trillion. The report itself, “The Fiscal Cost of Unlawful Immigrants and Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer2,” was unremarkable considering its source, insofar as it was predominantly political document with little to no economic validity. Basically, without getting too wonky, the Heritage study counts all of the negative effects of amnestying illegal immigrants (increased benefits costs in entitlement programs, higher education/infrastructure costs, etc) without calculating all of the ways in which immigrant populations drive economic growth by expanding the labor force and pumping more cash back into the economy3. And, beyond that, the $6.3 trillion figure is based on a 50 year estimate, with the bulk of the calculated costs not coming until around 2050. A prediction of the economic impact of a given reform 50 years into the future is about as valid as anything you’d get from a fortune teller at a county fair. Hell, 50 years ago George Wallace was trying to physically block blacks from going to the University of Alabama, we were on the brink of nuclear war with The Soviet Union, China was an economic nobody and about half of Africa was still under colonial rule. How accurate do you think a 50 year economic projection made in 1963 would be today?

All of that aside, the truly scandalous bit about this report had less to do with what was in it and more to do with the beliefs of the person who wrote it. It turns out that one of the authors of the report, Jason Richwine, had written his PhD dissertation at Harvard on his contention that Hispanics were genetically predisposed to have lower IQs than white people. Or, as Richwine put it in the conclusion to his dissertation, “No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against4.” Consider this to be The Bell Curve Redux: a heaping mess of disjointed and correlational statistics being used to prove the racial superiority of one group over another. Even in this day and age it might be tempting to give Richwine the benefit of the doubt and presume that he was simply a ignorant, yet well-meaning researcher who couldn’t see the forest for the trees. At least, it would have been tempting if Richwine didn’t publicly announce that he wasn’t apologizing for his work and if he hadn’t published two articles on the white supremacist website AlternativeRight.com in 2010.

Nope, turns out the dude is just an unabashed racist. I don’t care how high Jason Richwine scored on his IQ test, the man is fucking moron.

———————-

1Answers to Test #1 are: d) beaten up, c) hair, c) store, and b) corn

Answers to Test #2 are: a) bearing lots of fruit, d) foolhardy, c) bird, b) marmalade

Advertisements


Categories: Social Justice, US Politics

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 reply

  1. I got 3/4 on both sides… But I am an immigrant, which is a group against which both pages are biased. If that’s not an urban myth, about 100 years or so ago, the US tried to use IQ tests to find out from which countries immigrants with the highest IQ were coming from. Not surprisingly, English speaking countries were coming up on top.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: