Jewish Telegraph Agency.org By Marcy Oster Tues., Dec. 31, 2019
JTA) — New York Times columnist Bret Stephens (pic above) came under fire on social media for an op ed in which he wrote that Ashkenazi Jews are more intelligent than other people and cited a paper by a researcher who promoted eugenics. The reference to the paper later was removed.
“The Secret of Jewish Genius” published on Saturday had received nearly 700 comments on the online edition of The Times by Sunday afternoon when the comments were closed. Many of the comments also thanked Stephens for his column and praised his conclusions.
The column cited a 2005 paper by researchers Gregory Cochran, Jason Hardy and Henry Harpending of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Utah stating that “Ashkenazi Jews have the highest average I.Q. of any ethnic group for which there are reliable data.
During the 20th century, they made up about 3 percent of the U.S. population but won 27 percent of the U.S. Nobel science prizes and 25 percent of the ACM Turing awards. They account for more than half of world chess champions.”
But the Southern Poverty Law Center said that Harpending was an anthropologist who possessed a white nationalist ideology and promoted eugenics, which was studied and practiced by the Nazis. The practice aims to improve a population’s genetic composition through selective breeding, as by sterilization.
The reference to the paper was removed later on Sunday. An editor’s note said, in part, that “Mr. Stephens was not endorsing the study or its authors’ views, but it was a mistake to cite it uncritically. The effect was to leave an impression with many readers that Mr. Stephens was arguing that Jews are genetically superior. That was not his intent.“
Before winning a Pulitzer Prize for commentary at The Wall Street Journal, Stephens was editor of The Jerusalem Post.