Commenter Archive

AvatarComments by George Turner in reply to Mike Schilling*

On “New Rule

Ah, so now there's only one white girl who has ever complained about being denied admissions because of AA. Isn't that like all the segregation defenders who dismissed each and every cry and protest as just a few "uppity troublemakers" who were completely unrepresentative of their happy and content brethren?

Can you point to a black who didn't get into a university because they were black? That used to be the case at just about all non-historically black colleges. It is no longer the case. Now have tens of thousands of whites and Asians who didn't get into a university because they were white or Asian.

If it used to be wrong to exclude people from a university on the basis of race, why is it now a mark of liberal progress that it's right to exclude people on the basis of race? Even the Supreme Court has had trouble buying into it.

Supporting institutionalized racial bias in college admissions standards, simply because some blacks are disadvantaged by life in some unrelated area, is a convenient way to dodge the underlying problems. It's like arguing that since blacks or women aren't making nearly as much as their white male counterparts, we'll just give them a discount on food by giving them some stigmatizing badge of failure.

Or universities could be more honest and say that they feel obligated to admit applicants of different races, ethnicities, nationalities, or religions in the same proportions as they exist in the high-school graduate population served by the university, and that any competition for admissions will be within those groups, not between them.

On “Federal U & The Rising Cost of Higher Ed

You could throw a huge wrench in the works with academies aimed at producing particular types of federal employees (diplomatic academy, HHS academy, etc) and massively favor in-house graduates. They start to attract all the kids looking for an easy major and a government job with nice benefits and a big pension, and the academies could be conveniently located in and around the beltway.

On “New Rule

That example is trivially easy. An instance of a girl stating she was harmed by institutional AA was the thread that spawned this one. Not only that, but the harm knocked her out of the Ivy League. :)

There are also lawsuits filed by Asian Americans.

"

So, to prove my assertion that we don't allow institutional racism, I have to come up with a hypothetical example of allowed institutional racism?

Hrm... An all-white NBA team wouldn't quite do it.

Keep in mind that the case also requires institutional racism that inflicts measurable harm (and ideally enough to get you into Harvard), and that the required examples are always elusive or useless, kind of like claims that the Jews control Hollywood, the banking system, and the drier lint industry - which explains unrelated facts X, Y, and Z.

I'm stumped, but I'll keep thinking in hopes of winning a cookie. :)

"

But blacks no longer face institutional racism (codified into law and policy), and when we find cases where they do we pursue remedies in the courts. Any such racism is not only not condoned, it's condemned for its unfairness and injustice.

Why do we allow colleges to have overtly racist policies to correct perceived racism that occurs somewhere other than the colleges, in places where they have no authority or responsibility? If there are racial disparities in the attainment levels of inner-city schools, why is Harvard obligated to change its entry requirements as the solution instead of fixing the inner city schools? If blacks in Chicago have trouble getting home loans, why is the solution expected in the makeup of Yale's freshmen class?

And the elite schools (aside from Stanford) are being very racist regarding Asians. Many schools saw their Asian enrollment peak in the early 1990's. Since then the Asian college-age population has doubled yet Asian enrollment in elite schools declined or barely moved. (Stanford, which can't discriminate, has indeed seen a doubling of their Asian enrollment, showing that the Asian applicants aren't getting stupid or anything). The modern trends happen to reflect the universities' limits on Jewish enrollment instituted in the 1920's, just after they decided to accept Jewish applicants for the first time and panicked when they realized that Jews would become a large part of their student population instead of just a few tokens. A 1997 study found that Asians have to score a perfect 1600 SAT to get the same acceptance rate as whites with 1460 scores or blacks with an 1150.

Yet Asians also face discrimination in society at large, sometimes quite pointed discrimination and outright hatred (some veterans still freak out over Asians). Yet in their case the remedy for general societal discrimination is more discrimination against them in university admissions, not discrimination in their favor. So the whites are hurt by discrimination in favor of blacks, but helped by discrimination against Asians and Jews.

With so many potential victims of discrimination (pretty much everyone who's graduated from high school), some are going to complain, and complain loudly. Telling them to shut up and hitting them with a guilt trip about what other people have to face just perpetuates the racial discrimination. It also doesn't remedy the greater problems, as people start to compensate by undervaluing black degrees or overvaluing Asian ones, sometimes referenced in relation to the soft bigotry of low expectations.

"

My basic issue with the issue in the post is that it holds that anyone who thinks they're suffering institutional racial discrimination should shut up (or more accurately anyone who thinks such institutional racial discrimination exists). Wasn't that exactly the position that caused the problem in the first place?

We're trying to remedy the legacy left by institutional racism by re-institutionalizing racism, although of a different kind and opposite bent. But the basic reason we oppose racism is because it invariably produces victims, and in fact laugh at victimless faux racism (like hating the Welsh). Inevitably our policy of AA produces victims, and some of them are going to speak out, just like every victim of racism is inclined to do. Nowadays we tell them to shut up because the institutional racism exists for the betterment of society, whereas before we told them to shut up because institutional racism exists for the betterment of society. Maybe we should try a new line.

"

Sorry Kazzy, but the paper you linked reads more than a bit like a parody of a science paper, but is probably the norm in social sciences.

For example:

These premature deaths arise from a broad
spectrum of disorders. Diabetes, cardiovascular heart disease, hypertension, and obesity disproportionately affect African Americans ([cite]). For example, in deaths due to heart disease, the rate per 100,000 persons for African Americans (321.3) is higher than for any other racial/ethnic group, including Asian/Paci?c Islanders (137.4), American Indian/Alaska Natives (178.9), Hispanics (188.4), and Whites (245.6).

One paragraph later it says:

. For example, Williams & Jackson (2005) examined Black/White health disparities using data from the National Center for Health Statistics for the years 1950 to 2000, and found that although rates of heart disease were similar for Blacks and Whites in 1950, by the year 2000, African Americans had a rate of heart disease 30% higher than that of Whites. Similarly, in 1950, African Americans had a lower cancer rate than Whites, but by the year 2000, their rate was 30% higher.

A few paragraphs later it asserts that these differences must be due to racism, but not based on skin color because Caribbean-American blacks don't show such a disparity. At that point the train has left the tracks. If the disparity was due to white racism, then by any rational meaning of racism the disparity should've been larger in 1950, not vastly smaller. And if whites did have this claimed magical power to give people heart disease, diabetes, and every other disorder, as the paper later asserts, why aren't whites using it against Native Americans, Asians, Mexicans, and Jews? In fact, why are whites using it on themselves more than every other group except non-Caribbean blacks? Heck, according to the paper blacks smoke because whites are racist. Not so mysteriously, they don't ask, much less explain, why white racism against Jews doesn't result in bad Jewish health care outcomes, probably because everyone would openly laugh at the authors.

About the only thing the paper illuminates is how whites who write science papers want to indulge their own guilt so they can get some redemption (and a lot of grant money from the federal grievance industry).

The serious problem with papers like this is that in explaining bad health care among blacks as the result of white racism, it means the medical community and society doesn't have to try and radically alter black decisions, habits, and behaviors leading to these outcomes, and do more to compensate for their particular issues, whites just have to become 27.3% less racist, which is easy! (Just say three "Hail MLK's" and compliment P-Diddy.)

"

No, you didn't link it, but try reading this one which explains differences in health outcomes between classes, incomes, and races across diverse regions, times, and health care systems with a different factor.

"

Is it time for someone to post the clip of Larry David finding out that his lawyer wasn't actually Jewish? Yes it is.

Youtube clip.

"

So the doctors can't figure out the reasons (because whites and blacks must be exactly the same), so any difference must be due to racism? Why didn't they just blame witchcraft or evil demons, maybe try a few leeches to see if it helps? This is one more example of an area where much of the rest of the world is ahead of us. If Middle Eastern doctors can't explain a set of outcomes they know it must be a clever plot by the evil Jews.

Different groups have vastly different attitudes toward seeking medical help and advice, following the recommendations, or actively following up or pursuing other avenues. Some groups tend to nag their doctors, question their decisions, and push push push. Others just feel put off and ignore the advice, or don't understand it. Many Southern rednecks won't go to a doctor unless they think the wound is severe enough that they can brag about it.

Also notice the obvious dodge in the conclusion you cite. If blacks have lower health outcomes due to racism, it's obviously due to racism in society at large (I'm blaming the check out clerks at Walmart), not the far more obvious conclusion that doctors and health care workers, the people who actually provide the health care whose outcomes show large racial disparities, are racist. It's like the way that all the really insidious Jewish plots are always discovered in countries that don't have any Jews - all too convenient.

"

The Republican governor of Colorado (a state which had to take in many of those removed from the west coast) was a very vocal opponent of Japanese internment, calling it racist, unconstitutional, and immoral, and did all he could to help them.

Washington state was so bad that they had very vocal groups pushing for a Constitutional amendment to strip Japanese of citizenship, and also trying to make sure Japanese internees couldn't return to Seattle. The Council of Churches worked hard to shame such people into shutting up.

Odd tidbit: The US government was so idiotic that they even interned some German Jews because they were German nationals and thus a potential threat.

"

One of the girls in my church growing up got into MIT on an "Appalachian scholarship" that was obviously created in the aftermath of Bobby Kennedy's call to help the dirt-poor hillbillies of the region. Her dad was a wealthy abortion doctor and aerospace engineer (an odd combination) who drove a Maserati - possibly the only car of that class within fifty miles.

I'm sure someone at MIT felt good about increasing their diversity (by accepting a rich girl who lived in a mansion on a hill), but the only real result of such policies would be luring all the rich, smart kids out of Appalachia so they end up living in Boston. (Like most poor or rural regions, "they never move back home" is a fact of life.) One could argue that AA admissions are a misguided attempt to help the chaff by separating it from the wheat.

I'm sure others have brought up the horrible results of recruiting people into colleges that they aren't academically prepared for (intense competition for minority students to meet quotas), which has been discussed at length by many minority academics.

On “Margaret Thatcher, 1925-2013

Musicians made a fortune off her, and most used the money to snort up half of Columbia.

She's like the patron saint of punk rock.

On “Under a Field of Flowers: Captain Emil Kapaun

Sadly, North Korea hasn't improved since then. It's one big POW camp.

On “College For Not Everybody

Well, some snags in the proposal would have to be ironed out. If students are getting their acceptance letters from all the other colleges during their senior year but Harvard and Yale wait a year before even considering them, it's as if the letter of acceptance or rejection got lost in the mail. Almost all students would just go somewhere else instead of placing their bets on the 5 or 10% chance they would make it into one of the few Ivy's. If they did sit out a year and didn't get into an Ivy they'd have to explain to some other admissions office that they weren't just drinking with their friends for a year, they were actually waiting to get into Harvard. Since lots of people who skipped a year to go drinking with their friends will make that claim, it'll probably not carry much weight. I'm not sure of a way around this problem, because accepting or rejecting students and then making them sit out a year really doesn't change much from the current system.

A different avenue that might work is to more finely distinguish between different difficulties of coursework, similar to some fields where an BS is somewhat more challenging than an BA. In our current system the degrees all have almost equal weight, so the way we distinguish the difficulty is by institution. If kids who want to bear an elite mark had another way to do so then perhaps they'd quit focusing so much on the particular university. One option would be to offer Ivy League level coursework and difficulty within a non-Ivy league school, somehow either tying the program and degree to one of the Ivy's (almost like franchising) or coining a new name, perhaps after some particularly wealthy benefactor. However this wouldn't do anything to compensate for the elite school's upper-tier circle of friends.

"

If they added a one year gap between high-school and college then too many students would go directly to the NBA and not get any higher education at all.

But seriously, unless many other institutions followed suit, those other institutions would serve as "pre-Harvard" or "pre-Yale" and all the high-school competition would be aimed at getting into the universities with the best track record of placing students in the top Ivy League schools.

If this is going to happen, perhaps the Ivy league should look upon transfer students just as favorably as high-school freshmen, treating other colleges as their farm league where students prove their academic worth. This would create tiered class sizes at the elites, with juniors and seniors outnumbering freshman and sophomores, much like state schools with two-year colleges in their system. It should save money, do a better job of sorting, and allow the elites to focus more on the upper level classes instead of things like Spanish I.

On “Thursday Night Bar Fight #8: The Darker Side of Higher Education in the 21st Century

I'll bet it wouldn't take much effort (though this might be asking too much) to turn many of them into good programmers by having them read a few books that convey the sense of elegance and beauty that code can have, or at least how to pound out things that are halfway competent and maintainable. Perhaps start with some classics like Brooks "Mythical Man Month", then a few good ones on data structures and algorithms, and maybe something like "Code Complete." There are so many out there.

In math, showing someone a beautiful solution can sometimes open their eyes to cleverness, simplicity, and clarity. Of course if the desire is lacking then code, no matter how elegant or how expertly implemented, is just indented text on a screen and you'd just as well teach art to a pig.

"

Well, allowing guns on campus would fix this whole mess.

"I don't care what the new education law says. You WILL teach me interpretive dance 302 or I will blow a hole in both your kneecaps."

Repeat as necessary.

On “Not Your Typical Admissions Letter

Duke offered me a $2,000 scholarship, but that might as well have been free laundry or pencils given what Duke costs, so I went to UK. Once I saw Christian Laettner stomp Timberlake in one of the most famous basketball games of all time, I grew to hate Duke as much as everyone else who doesn't go to Duke. ^_^

Since then I've mellowed and decided that Laettner really is a great guy. When he coached an opposing international league team at Rupp Arena he went out on the court and cleaned the floor with a towel as an act of penance (this was about the time that Tosh.0 came out with web redemptions).

"

Well, that would be the question. Do these new kids, who grew up texting each other and Facebooking non-stop, have a different sense of peer-group hierarchies than we did? Has it made them more competitive regarding things like Florida vacation spots ("my new pics are cooler than his!"), gadgets ("I just got the iPhone 5!") and other things?

It probably wouldn't be too hard to do a survey of the new students, but I'm not sure what prior surveys you could reference their answers to.

"

What gets me is why the elites don't expand. If you're charging kids $250,000 or so for an education and rejecting 90% of the applicants (your potential market), perhaps accepting only 3,000 or so kids, what does that say about your business acumen?

****
"Gee whiz, professor, if we accepted all of this year's applicants we'd make an extra $6.75 billion dollars off of them instead of the $750 million we get now, stabilizing at $30 billion a year once we've got a full class. I say we throw up buildings like the Manhattan project and grab market share."

"But where will we find professors?"

"We're an elite school. Heck, our rejection rates for those are even higher! We should charge them to work here."

"They'd never be dumb enough to go for that."

"All the students are!"

"It will hurt our prestige."

"You can't eat prestige, and besides, we'll crush all our rivals in football, publish ten times more academic papers than we used to, and have ten times more alumni sending us money."

"But what if all the other elites follow suit?"

"Then they'll be no more elite than we will."
*****

In a free market, supply and demand are supposed to stabilize except for objects whose value is derived from rarity instead of utility. That Ivy League schools don't expand like a craze indicates they know what type of product they're really offering.

"

I wonder if social media could be a factor? Back in our day, if you got accepted to an Ivy League school you got to gloat for a few months and then rarely saw most of your high-school classmates and friends back home again. Now they all have to see your acceptance on your FB page forever and all time, and you can tweet them about how hard it is to be in an elite school.

"

Thanks. I saw "or her sister used to ____ an assistant editor at WSJ" and was playing fill-in-the-verb.

"

And if they have a lot of whiny entitled students, who no doubt constantly drive the faculty and staff batty, the admissions office would probably developed very sensitive radar for whiny entitled students. Handy tip: If the people in the admissions office likely despise a certain type of student, don't peg yourself as one of them.

On “Thursday Night Bar Fight #8: The Darker Side of Higher Education in the 21st Century

Medicine and chemistry of course, as those are critical and not something people just pick up through osmosis. I'd also toss in pharmacology.

I'd have difficulty deciding whether both physics and electrical engineering should be taught, because physics is fundamental to advancing semiconductors (along with lots of other things) but doesn't delve enough into some other specialized aspects of electrical systems that are required to keep the lights on and the internet running. I rate both fields as pretty critical because if nobody keeps making advanced communications equipment and computers then we'll eventually regress to the 1950's no matter how many programmers we have sitting around.

*Comment archive for non-registered commenters assembled by email address as provided.