The Triple Package: Racism as Social Science


The Triple Package is a highly provocative and racially-loaded treatise on why some groups succeed when others don’t, writes Pradyot Lal in Tehelka

Amy-ChuaSome three years after she gained fame, and to many stoked fires in the mommy wars, Yale law professor Amy Chua is back with a bang, this time along with co-author and husband, fellow professor and novelist Jed Rubenfeld. Their book, The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America, is a sort of racism camouflaged as social science, and has already created a stir in academic and social circles.

Instead of concentrating on one outstanding tribe — the Chinese — Chua and Rubenfeld add seven more: Jews, Lebanese, Indians, Iranians, Nigerians, Cuban exiles, and Mormons, to suggest that these eight groups are financially and academically more successful than others in the US because they possess “the triple package” of traits — superiority, insecurity and good impulse control.

Chua and Rubenfeld point to studies that show people’s performance in all sorts of activities increases or decreases when they are stereotypically thought to be good or bad at the task at hand. They cite this as empirical proof that group feelings of superiority breed success. They also say that black students score lower on standardised tests when instructions “remind them about stereotypes concerning differential racial performance on such tests”.

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