Matt Lewis [Email him] of the Daily Caller makes a semi-defense of Jason Richwine but then qualifies that he has some “problems with the IQ thing.” [Some thoughts on Heritage, Jason Richwine, and the IQ scandal, Daily Caller, May 13, 2013] He expresses his problems with a number of rhetorical questions, which have pretty simple non-rhetorical answers, which shows just how hopeless even most conservatives are in understanding this simple construct.
“First, assuming his findings are correct, IQ tests may measure a lot of things, but do they measure of “character”or “ambition”?
No it does not, but since we're talking about immigrant IQ, it's a better measure of character and ambition than winning the diversity lottery or being the relative of citizen or permanent resident. Yes, character and ambition—which are much harder to measure and define than intelligence—no doubt are important traits, but Lewis does not even suggest that there is some way to measure them in potential immigrants.
Before anyone points to some study showing that some personality traits correlate with positive outcomes, immigration lawyers could easily tell their clients what answers to give to the psychological questions. It’s much more difficult to cheat on an IQ test.
If so, shouldn’t colleges and universities similarly ignore grades, activities, etc., and instead focus solely on IQ?
No, but the GMATs, LSATs, and SATs are pretty similar to IQ tests. Richwine, of course, did not say that IQ is the only qualification that should be considered in admitting immigrants, so Lewis’s analogy would suggest that schools should not look at standardized tests at all.
And why wait until high school to determine life’s winners and losers? Couldn’t we figure out which elementary school kids have the aptitude to be successful. I mean, ift hat’s the best predictor.
While Lewis may set up this type of super-tracking system as a reductio ad absurdum, it’s much less absurd that our current system that, in the words of the NY Times’ Deborah Solomon, is based on the premise that “given the opportunity, most people could do most anything.”
While IQ has a genetic component and individual’s IQs—on average—do not vary over time, no one argues that every person’s IQ stays constant their entire life. If we were to base college admission solely on IQ, then an applicant’s IQ when they apply is more accurate than an applicant’s childhood IQ.
IQ is not the perfect predictor of how well potential immigrants and their descendants will assimilate and contribute to America. However, all things being equal, aliens with higher IQs are more desirable than those with lower IQs, and Lewis gives no reason to suggest that this is not the case. When we have millions of people trying to immigrate into the country each year, IQ is a reasonable criterion.
Finally, using college admissions as an analogy for immigration would suggest that we should be more selective and use intelligence as a factor.