The #StayMadAbby case proves the point about perceptions of fairness

Dec 10 2015 Published by under Academics, Anger, Diversity in Science

The other day I was discussing the notion of what is "fair" in majority USian thinking.

In the US, it is considered fair if the very top echelon of the disadvantaged population succeeds at the level of the bottom slice of the advantaged distribution.

And if any individual of the top echelon of the disadvantaged population should happen to achieve up past the middle of the advantaged distribution? Well clearly that is unfair and evidence of reverse discrimination!

I was not familiar with the details of the Abigail Fisher (#StayMadAbby) case under consideration by SCOTUS (see Scalia) this week when I wrote that. I have learned a few things.

The University of Texas has a policy of accepting the top 10% of in-state high school graduates. This accounted for 92% of the slots when Ms. Fisher was applying for admission. She was not in the top 10% of her class.

Her qualifications were mediocre at best: A GPA of 3.59 and SAT scores of 1180/1600.

So she was less than amazingly qualified and was fighting for one of the 8% of the remaining admission slots for non-top-10% applicants.

There is more though, which is a real kicker. Again, from the Salon article. There were:

168 black and Latino students with grades as good as or better than Fisher’s who were also denied entry into the university that year.

So if she had been admitted, they would have all had a case that she was stealing their slot.

It gets better*.

It’s true that the university, for whatever reason, offered provisional admission to some students with lower test scores and grades than Fisher. Five of those students were black or Latino. Forty-two were white.

Emphasis added.

Ms. Fisher is suing on the basis of those five black or Latino students who were admitted. They had worse grades, you see, so she deserved to get in. And was discriminated against solely on the fact that she wasn't black or Latina. Except 42 white students also were admitted with worse grades. So if anyone took her slot it is 42:5 THAT IT WAS A WHITE STUDENT.

And of course had she been offered admission, there were 168 individuals with the same claim against her that she is making now.

Reminder. This is not just one woman's disappointed whinging and viral YouTube video.

This case has wended its way all the way up to the highest court in the land and is being considered by our SCOTUS Justices.

She is the best possible plaintiff. Because the details of this case underscore how true it is that "fairness" in this country is that which only just barely allows the disadvantaged to draw (almost) even with the very lowest attaining members of the advantaged populations.
__
*worse

100 responses so far

  • L Kiswa says:

    This is so very sad. At our fairly large land grant uni in fly over land, I frequently hear complaints about how the URM kids from the closest inner city are taking up the spots of the swathes of white kids from poor, rural farming towns. The fact that there are (literally) thousands of caucasian students from underprivileged backgrounds never seems to get in the way of folks (several of whom are faculty members) whining about the how two URMs they are familiar with are "stealing" others' opportunities.

  • David says:

    "This is not just one woman's disappointed whinging and viral YouTube video.

    This case has wended its way all the way up to the highest court in the land and is being considered by our SCOTUS Justices."

    You forgot twice; This case has TWICE wended its way all the way up to the highest court in the land.

    There's some fun* statements in this case:
    Justice John Roberts scoffed at the idea that racial diversity had any educational value: “What unique perspective does a black student bring to a class in physics?”

    * not fun

  • Anonymouse says:

    I completely agree with Roberts. I see no mechanism according to which "diversity" would improve the operations of a chemistry lab. On the contrary, I see an obvious mechanism according to which purely merit-based, color- and gender-blind admission and promotion policies benefit the progress of science and technology.

    It's a matter of one's perspective, I guess. I was born in Eastern Europe and don't give a rat's ass about the U.S. "troubled racial history" and "remedies". In the empathy department, I rather sympathize with the Asians, who are nowadays actively discriminated against.

  • jmz4gtu says:

    "“What unique perspective does a black student bring to a class in physics?” "
    -I know that you're quoting this as a gratuitous example of ignorance. But let us answer it honestly, and as it might pertain to the study of biology.
    A black student might bring to bear knowledge of certain nutritional standards common to either his ethnicity (due too an ethnically idiosyncratic diet) and/or social class (which, in the US, on the average, will be low).
    He might bring a deeper understanding of anti-homosexual views that prevail in his community, which would otherwise persist unremarked upon by white scientists(especially of interest to psychologists).
    He might have some insight into different populations or racial substructures within the African-American community that would offer a new hierarchy for, as an example, a GWAS. For example, I've have friends that have noted the ability of mixed raced relatives to "pass" as white. Maybe this sparks a unique interest in those characteristics which would seem blase to a white scientist?
    And I know there are medical issues that afflict certain sub-populations, so its not unreasonable to think that might be a motivating factor.
    Maybe a dozen other examples I can't think of, myself being a white scientist.
    Science is the study of the natural world, but that doesn't mean it precludes the artificial barriers we've put up between the races, nor the study of their ramifications.
    The bottom line is, if we hold science up as a public good, but we're not accurately representing the public, there's always a good chance we're doing them a disservice.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Students aren't admitted to each class by the Admissions Office. They are admitted to a University student body. Diversity is about the University as a whole...doesn't mean benefits apply to every single subfacet. The Chief Justice was being comically reductionist and transparently trying to change the goals.

  • drugmonkey says:

    jmz4gtu-

    In another context, I find that researchers most interested in #SABV studies trend more female than the general representation. If there had been less success over the past 40+ years in changing women's participation in NIH funded science as PI, we'd know much less about sex differences in various biomedical topics.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Anonymouse- it is interesting that you pick favorite groups who suffer "active discrimination" to feel empathy for.

  • Anonymouse says:

    DM - If a group is discriminated against, I sympathize with it. Why is this "interesting"?

  • qaz says:

    @Anonymouse - Perhaps before making judgements about a society and its problems, you should do some research about the current situation in that society and its causes.

    The supposed "merit-based" and "race-blind" systems assume (incorrectly) that all children have the same training available to them to that point and that the distribution of disadvantages(*) is equally distributed. Both of those assumptions are wrong, and are wrong because of explicit racist structures within the system that arose from a very long and complex past. Because of those nonuniform disadvantaged distributions, it is more likely that normalizing merit to one's local disadvantages will measure merit more accurately. In fact, this is exactly where UT's 10% rule came from.

    * I talk about the unfair distribution of disadvantages because the goal is to bring everyone up to the level that upper-middle-class whites achieve not to bring them down. The goal is to remove disadvantages, not to remove advantages.

    The reason diversity matters to a chemistry class is that it changes the questions asked. For example, hazardous waste dump sites are non-uniformly distributed among communities in the US. Science is all about questions. People tend to ask questions about topics that matter to them. Diversity increases the number of perspectives available and thus increases the questions asked.

    We need diversity because otherwise we're leaving talent on the table. Diversity is a public good.

  • Anonymous says:

    DM, your last comment is richly ironic. The whole point of affirmative action is to pick "favorite groups" (but not all groups) who have suffered past discrimination. The US has discriminated heavily against Asians, including locking them up during WWII. Yet Asians are heavily discriminated against under virtually all affirmative action programs.

  • Established PI says:

    Anonymous, please read up a little more on recent U.S. history, which will show you that discrimination against Asians, while real, is in no way comparable to the vast array of huge legal, social and economic disadvantages experienced by African-Americans. One place to start is Ta-Nehisi Coates's recent scholarly article in the Atlantic which, while focused on economic disadvantages, does a good job of laying out a lot of the history.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/

  • Anonymous says:

    EPI, I don't disagree with you that African-Americans have a much longer (and more harsh) history of discrimination in the US than Asians. But if affirmative action were truly about correcting for the effects of past discrimination, Asians wouldn't be penalized compared to whites; but they are.

    At the end of the day, affirmative action is about treating applicants disparately based on their race, which is the very definition of racism. I see no place for it in American society today, especially when race-blind metrics can take socio-economic considerations into account, such as Texas's top-10% program.

  • Grumble says:

    “What unique perspective does a black student bring to a class in physics?”

    The answer is glaringly obvious. Her presence reinforces the perspective of everyone in the classroom and beyond that black students are perfectly capable of rigorous academic performance and, consequently, of performing challenging intellectual jobs. Roberts' implication that this perspective has no value in our society, with its grossly unequal distribution of academic and economic success among blacks and whites, is beyond absurd. It is downright toxic.

  • qaz says:

    Anonymous - You do realize what they are using Abby to sue about IS Texas's 10% rule, right?

  • Anonymous says:

    qaz, I may be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure this case is about the "holistic review" process that occurs after UT fills its seats with the top 10% rule.

  • qaz says:

    I'm pretty sure that it is about the 10% rule. That's the issue - that there are lots and lots of students who got guaranteed acceptance but had worse scores than she did.

  • qaz says:

    Reading the details, it looks like this is the second round. The first round was definitely about the 10% rule. To be honest, I can't figure out what the second round is about.

  • Anonymous says:

    If you read Fisher's brief, it's definitely not about the 10% rule, considering how much she praises it:

    "The Texas legislature passed a statute requiring that all Texas students who graduate in the top ten percent of their high school classes be admitted to UT. And UT broadened its admissions policies to ensure a fair opportunity for qualified students who do not come from privileged backgrounds. The experiment was an important step toward 'bringing about the harmony and mutual respect among all citizens that our constitutional tradition has always sought.' The experiment also was a success, enabling UT to enhance educational opportunity and achieve 'real diversity' without classifying applicants in a way the 'Constitution abhors.'"

    http://www.scotusblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/14-981_pet.authcheckdam.pdf (citations omitted)

  • drugmonkey says:

    I thought round 2 was about the 42:5. But of course since the media suck we are all confused.

  • drugmonkey says:

    *effects* of past *and current* discrimination, Anonymouse. And clearly it has to be systematic and severe.

    Not getting into Ivy League Asshole Factories at the deserved rate because of Lily White Legacy admits isn't quite the same deal.

  • A Salty Scientist says:

    Anonymous--there is current discrimination happening. Callback studies of identical resumés with African American vs. Caucasian-sounding names show that AA candidates get fewer callbacks for identical credentials. Implicit bias is a real thing. Differences in outcome are not solely socioeconomic.

    Grumble and qaz are right on. When our youth see individuals from underrepresented groups thrive in science, it goes a long way towards making those options seem more attainable. And creativity is the currency of science. We are all better off by including more fresh ideas from people that think about the world differently.

  • SidVic says:

    If it does concern the 10% rule; then the salon article is misleading because it pulls the numbers from only the second cut of admissions. I got curious about the issue and looked around at news sources.... I have to agree with DM that the media have done an extremly poor job at explaining whats what.

    IMO Texas's 10% class rule is probably as fair as any system currently in place and it does give the representational diversity desired by many. It does bother me that it depends upon a highly segregated K1-12 school system. It occurs to me that a bright AA (or other) student that wants to get into UT would be incentivized to go to a crappy high school and gun for the top 10, rather than a really good academically high achieving school where the risk falling within the 10-25% range. I also wonder about the details of what constitutes a "school", small private? Homeschooling? magnet school for gifted students?
    Finally the several rational attempts to explain this almost mystical "diversity benefit" in the hard sciences strike me as exceedingly lame. Diversity can be good, cuisine (thanks to the mexicans, thai et al we aren't relegated to the wall paper paste the english regard as food. or Bad: the balklans.

  • former staff scientist says:

    Why is it that so many people cannot come to grips with the fact that different races have different average intelligences. That is the reason that East Asians are overrepresented in higher education and blacks are underrepresented. Most people know this, but try to fool themselves into believing otherwise. It is like some deep national neurosis.

  • Established PI says:

    Anonymous, there are many differences of opinion on current affirmative action policies, even among liberals who are in principal not opposed to them. But to equate the historic disadvantages of African Americans in the U.S. with any other group is just plain false. All the complaints about treating everyone equally also ring hollow in light of the many other types of preferences, e.g. legacy admissions, geographical distributions, which, ironically, were invented* to keep out a previously disadvantaged group (Jews) and continue to be used to keep up the numbers of white students. Colleges use many different plus factors in admissions, some of which are purely demographic or historic and not under the applicant's control - it is myth that affirmative action is the only thing that is spoiling what would otherwise be a pure meritocracy.

    (* see Malcolm Gladwell's http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2005/10/10/getting-in)

  • drugmonkey says:

    We generally expect a higher level of troll game around here fss. Maybe a slower paced blog like Greg Laden's Blog would be more comfortable for you.

  • banditokat@gmail.com says:

    I wish we had some large population study we could examine where people collected data based solely on race and made sweeping generalizations about value to humanity. I'm sure that would inform this little off shoot of an otherwise productive discussion. Thanks for thinking about the numbers, Ted. Datahound is rubbing off on you.

  • bagger vance says:

    jmz4gtu--taking a statement about physics and then applying it to various flavors of biology may indicate that Roberts may have had a point in his original statement. "Changing the goalposts", as it were, to create something I'll call a "strawman argument".

    But since we are going headlong into an election year (although it certainly feels like it's been going on for a year already) I begin to wonder if Smugmonkey is turning into an all-politics blog. Because there's plenty of those already.

  • Anonymouse says:

    former staff scientist: "Why is it that so many people cannot come to grips with the fact that different races have different average intelligences. Most people know this, but try to fool themselves(...)"

    It's about perspective, not fooling. To me, people are individuals, so I am not interested in average group IQs. True talent belongs to the same fringes of the bell curve (where statistics' predictive value is negligible) regardless of the race.
    IQ probably matters elsewhere, but we are talking about academia. Neither negative (racism) nor positive (affirmative action) stereotyping belongs here.

    Grumble: "Her presence reinforces the perspective of everyone in the classroom and beyond that black students are perfectly capable of rigorous academic performance..."

    If she is in the classroom not because of the merit, but rather because of preferential racial policies, chances are something entirely opposite will be reinforced.

  • ucprof says:

    I served on the undergraduate admission committee for our honors program a few years back. We got an excel file full of students (thousands) who were being admitted and we had a week to decide which ones to offer admission to our honors program (hundred or so). This is at one of the University California campuses.

    The only real option was to sort the spreadsheet by some algorithm.

    If I sorted by some measure of SAT scores (like GPA *400+SAT), I was absolutely astounded at the concentration of high scoring students at just a few high schools.

    I know in some countries, they have a national test at the end of high school. And that test more or less determines where you can go to school and what you can study. People who went through that system often think that the SAT is the equivalent in this country, but it's not.

    There are schools that offer SAT prep classes to their students. There are schools where the test is never even mentioned; students have to research where and how to take the SAT.

    I think the 10% rule is really a great idea. It normalizes for each student's educational experience, and rewards those students who excel in their local environment.

    Also, at the University Calif, everyone gets a second chance. If you attend a community college and excel there, you can gain admission with sophomore/junior standing to one of the University Calif campuses.

  • jmz4gtu says:

    "taking a statement about physics and then applying it to various flavors of biology may indicate that Roberts may have had a point in his original statement. "Changing the goalposts", as it were, to create something I'll call a "strawman argument"."
    -Possibly, but I'm not very familiar with physics research, so I didn't want to speculate about a field. I know relatively little about. Besides, biologists take physics courses in college.

  • Grumble says:

    @Anonymouse: "If she is in the classroom not because of the merit, but rather because of preferential racial policies, chances are something entirely opposite will be reinforced."

    Merit is squishy and hard to measure, much like grant application quality. You can divide students into roughly three groups - top notch, average, and destined for failure. The first group is tiny. The second is enormous. The third is unfortunately also large. With current affirmative action policies, everyone, of every race, from the first group gets in to highly competitive college X, and all that is happening is that more minorities from the second group are accepted than would otherwise be the case.

    If you look at it that way, it's most definitely not the case that a minority student admitted on affirmative action displaced someone with more merit.

  • drugmonkey says:

    It's interesting how the lowest performing white kid in any sort of class or graduate program is never taken as clear evidence that legacy, geography, patronage, standardized score, GPA or some other attribute they express is unfairly letting in the unworthy and that the attribute needs to be rigorously excluded as a criterion in the future.

  • There's some decent info floating around about the case, although not in the media; see http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/fisher-v-university-of-texas-at-austin-2/ and also in particular http://www.scotusblog.com/2015/12/argument-preview-whats-at-issue-in-the-fisher-case-this-time/

    Apparently the year that Fisher applied was year that UT had switched from their old top 10% plan to a new plan that loosely incorporated race as one element among many to be considered when assessing an applicant's potential contribution to the campus. So, she wasn't in the top 10% of her class, but that wasn't the rule in place when she applied.

  • Anonymouse says:

    Like some other people here, I also like the "top 10% from every school" idea. It selects genuine achievers, regardless of the environment (and these achievers are entitled to genuine pride). It does not smell with racism. Sure, it's not perfect, but few things are.

  • Anonymous says:

    A salty scientist- you say, “When our youth see individuals from underrepresented groups thrive in science, it goes a long way towards making those options seem more attainable.”

    We’re scientists here, and are supposed to base our scientific hypotheses on data. For me, the same holds for political views. Our country would be much better off if discussion politics had more discussion of data and less raw emotion. So where is the data that shows that affirmative action helps minorities succeed in STEM fields?

    At elite universities, African Americans can have SAT scores of 230-280 points (of 1600) less than whites and Asians and still have the same chances of admission*. Do you think putting any student in a classroom where the average SAT score is hundreds of points higher than their own will help him/her succeed? I certainly don’t, and the effect would be more pronounced in courses such as math where knowledge builds cumulatively and heavily relies on prior academic preparation. And published studies have suggested the same thing**:

    “While conditional on sex black students have stronger initial preferences than whites for majoring in the natural sciences, engineering, or economics, they are significantly less likely to choose one of these majors for their final major. We show that these differences in persistence rates are fully explained by differences in academic background.”

    and

    “affirmative action may be working to increase the number of non-science majors at top schools at the expense of science majors at less-selective schools. That is, minority students would be higher up in the preparation distribution at a less-selective school, potentially resulting in a higher probability of persisting in a science major.”

    DM, has argued consistently on this blog that good intentions aren’t enough to increase minority representation in science, so where is the data that affirmative action for undergraduate admission increases the amount of minorities that are successful in STEM fields?

    *https://www.princeton.edu/~tje/files/webOpportunity%20Cost%20of%20Admission%20Preferences%20Espenshade%20Chung%20June%202005.pdf

    **http://link.springer.com/article/10.1186%2F2193-8997-1-5

  • Throwawaygradstudent says:

    And SAT scores are strongly correlated to family income, who gives a shit?

  • Grumble says:

    @mouse: "Do you think putting any student in a classroom where the average SAT score is hundreds of points higher than their own will help him/her succeed? I certainly don’t..."

    A comment on DM's earlier post on Scalia referred to a fascinating NY Times Magazine article describing a program at UT that is designed exactly for those students. To summarize, a professor of chemistry there realized that his students' grades in Chemistry 101 were strikingly bimodal. Data that the college kept indicated that the kids in the D-to-F mode had trouble in many courses and typically did not graduate. There were various predictors of who was going to fall into that mode. So he designed a small class size program just for them, with lots of access to teachers who had the time to explain and help. The results were remarkable, with most kids doing very well in the class and going on to graduate. (I'm not sure if the latter effect was because the program was extended to other courses.)

    What this tells us is that having low SAT scores, being a minority, being poor, etc, doesn't indicate an inability to succeed academically. Those students may need extra help because they are not as prepared due to their backgrounds. That means we need to not only admit them to top schools at rates proportional to their overall representation in the population, but we also need to give them the resources and attention they need to succeed.

  • Anonymous says:

    Grumble, that article pretty much proves my point.

    First of all, it sounds like Texas is doing a great job. I like their 10% policy very much, as it casts a broad net for students without discriminating based on race. When you combine it with programs like TIP, I think it makes a big difference at increasing the academic performance of minority and lower-income students.

    However, the article pretty much proves that students do better when placed with students with similar academic backgrounds (including SAT score). To quote the article:

    "'I taught my 500-student chemistry class, and then I walked upstairs and I taught this 50-student chemistry class,' Laude explained. 'Identical material, identical lectures, identical tests — but a 200-point difference in average SAT scores between the two sections.' ... 'And when the course was over, this group of students who were 200 points lower on the SAT had exactly the same grades as the students in the larger section.'"

    Segregating by SAT score (and additional instruction) ended up helping the students with lower scores achieve more academic success - students who were predominately lower-income and minorities. When, previously, these students were mixed with remainder of the university population, they tended to drop out, or likely switch to less-rigorous, non-STEM majors (see my previous post).

    This is entirely consistent with the previous study I posted that stated that without affirmative action, "minority students would be higher up in the preparation distribution at a less-selective school, potentially resulting in a higher probability of persisting in a science major."

  • DJMH says:

    Anonymous, you are exactly wrong because you didn't read the Times article carefully. UT followed up by running a large experiment on their incoming freshman using psychology: the students were given mundane messages about UT as a control, or growth mindset "hard work begets success" messages, or "It takes a while to adapt to being at UT and that's normal" messages.

    The striking result, which you missed, is that the growth mindset messages helped under-privileged freshmen (minority, low-income, etc) be retained: their rate of staying in school increased by several percentage points. Whereas for privileged freshmen, none of the messages made any difference.

    The idea is that, when the better-off kids hit troubles in school, they don't immediately conclude that they don't belong; whereas the kids with worse backgrounds do. These messages help change that. CRUCIAL POINT: this does not come at the EXPENSE of Whitey McMansion. She does fine with or without the growth mindset messages.

    So what, exactly, is wrong with letting a bunch of URMs and others know that they do belong, and reinforcing that message with extra programs as needed? Those kids go on to succeed--and I hope we can all agree that's the goal.

  • Grumble says:

    "minority students would be higher up in the preparation distribution at a less-selective school, potentially resulting in a higher probability of persisting in a science major."

    Yeah, they persist, graduate, and have fewer/worse job/grad/professional school prospects than their peers who attended a more-selective school and graduated, thereby perpetuating the limited economic opportunities minorities face.

    If the goal is to reduce discrimination, the way to do it is the UT way, not by over-representing minorities in less-selective colleges and under-representing them in more-selective colleges.

  • Anonymous says:

    DJMH, maybe you didn't read all of my post, but I praised Texas's program. I will also point out that mindset did not fully reduce the gap between the student populations.

    Grumble- show me the data. I would expect holders of STEM degrees - particularly engineering - to have higher average living standards than holders of liberal arts degrees, even if their school is less prestigious. Moreover, this blog is about science*, and there's been a lot of discussion on the Ginther study and how to increase minority participation in science. If fewer minorities are getting science degrees due to affirmative action, I think it's safe to say they won't be attending grad school in the sciences, thus reducing the future pool of minority PIs.

    I think many supporters of affirmative action are among those who "may not care whether a policy works, as long as they are seen to be doing something."** I assume most here are scientists, but I seem to be the only one linking any sort of studies on the effects of affirmative action. Data should guide policy; even good intentions often fall short.

    *I fully agree with the second paragraph of bagger vance's comment

    **Timely article from the Economist: http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21679799-doctors-use-evidence-when-prescribing-treatments-policymakers-should-too-praise-human

  • DJMH says:

    Anonymous, your claim is that the Tough article "proves your point" that "students do better when placed with students with similar academic backgrounds." In fact, the article does nothing of the sort. The key bit about the mindset intervention is that it was a 30 min, online intervention not associated with changes in how students were treated once they arrived at UT.

    To repeat, the EXACT SAME students who would have had a 20% chance of dropping out now had only a 16%, without being surrounded by students of similar academic backgrounds, just by getting a boost on mindset. So no, the article does not prove your point.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Tch tch DJMH. You are missing the fundamental principle espoused by Anonymous. We care deeply about the success of underrepresented people, just so long as their achievement is limited to the second and third deciles from the bottom of the privileged group.

  • AnonymousE says:

    "We care deeply about the success of underrepresented people, just so long as (...)"

    Sarcasm wasted. Personally, I do not care at all . What I care about is the EQUAL opportunity of any individual to succeed, contingent only on the individual's talent and work. Affirmative action cannot be reconciled with meritocracy, and other considerations mean (beeep) to me. Sorry, no white guilt here.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Bullshit, AnonymousE. If you do not recognize the hole that certain people are in and the advantage-mound other people start from than your protestations of understanding what EQUAL means are hollow.

    Your guilt or lack thereof is immaterial. The issue is whether you purposefully ignore established material facts or not. And you have been. So you are consequently failing to convince anyone of the validity of your position. What you choose to do with that information is up to you.

  • A Salty Scientist says:

    I've worked very hard to get where I am. I also harbor no delusions that were I raised in a poor black household, I would not have ended up with the same grades, SAT scores, GRE scores, etc. despite equal "ability." There certainly is room to scrutinize whether our public policies are having their desired effects, but arguing that URMs have equal opportunity is not very compelling.

  • AnonymousE says:

    Absolutely, it's up to me. And I DO NOT recognize as a fact that unequal outcome necessarily means unequal opportunity to ultimately succeed. On the contrary - the success of "overrepresented minorities" - people from such shitholes like the former Soviet Union (with satellites), mainland China or India (which all spend a fraction per student of what U.S. inner city schools do) means that not race, not money, not WASP privilege, but rather another factor is at play: the CULTURE.

    Well, if a factor intrinsic to YOUR "underrepresented minority" is holding this minority down, it is not the other groups' fault, and your demands to pervert the academic values (i.e. meritocracy) for the sake of forcing the equal outcome fall on deaf ears. At least as long as this Eastern European (and all my Asian friends, increasingly pissed about this AA garbage) are concerned.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Well, if a factor intrinsic to YOUR "underrepresented minority" is holding this minority down, it is not the other groups' fault,

    Are you seriously suggesting that US institutionalized racism directed at those who are African-American is the fault of said victims and not of anyone else who instantiates that institutionalized bias by their very membership in, or eligibility for, majority culture?

    this Eastern European (and all my Asian friends, increasingly pissed about this AA garbage) are concerned.

    Given that both Eastern European and Asian individuals are considerably better represented in the professorial ranks than are African-Americans I am unclear on what you would be "pissed" about. And while I don't know about Eastern European representation, from all shouting and exposes that I've heard, the discrimination against Asian or Asian-American admissions to undergraduate institutions in the US is to the benefit of good old traditional white kids, not the tiny number of beneficiaries of URM affirmative action.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melissa-chen/why-the-asianamerican-law_b_7799098.html

    http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-adv-asian-race-tutoring-20150222-story.html Note reference population.

    This one is particularly laughable in its misdirection:
    http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21669595-asian-americans-are-united-states-most-successful-minority-they-are-complaining-ever

    "Since the Ivies will not stop giving places to the privileged, because their finances depend on the generosity of the rich, the argument homes in on affirmative action."

    HAHHAHAA. Gee we can't displace all the dumb legacies...hey LOOK, that black woman took your spot!!!! And just like a Republican voter you fall for it hook line and sinker.

  • Anonymous says:

    DM, your comment that another poster “purposefully ignore[s] established material facts” is incredibly rich. If this were a discussion about whether bunnies hop in manner X under condition Y, you would ask for experiments and data. However, if the contention is that affirmative action improves the plight of African-Americans or increases the representation of underrepresented minorities in the scientific workforce, apparently good intentions - that may very well be counterproductive - are good enough.

    One brief* in the Fisher case is worth reading and considering. The authors suggest that, “if the mounting empirical evidence is correct – as we believe it is – the nation now has fewer African American physicians, scientists, and engineers than it would have had using race-neutral methods.” As I’ve been mentioning, they also point out that “an aspiring science or engineering major who attends a school where her entering academic credentials put her in the middle or the top of her class is more likely to persevere and ultimately succeed than an OTHERWISE IDENTICAL STUDENT attending a more elite school where those same credentials place her toward the bottom of the class. Put differently, affirmative action is a hindrance, not a help, for preference beneficiaries who aspire to earn degrees in science and engineering.” The effects of affirmative action also show up in law schools, where “the average African-American first-year law student has a grade-point average in the bottom 10% of his or her class.”

    As is true of those whose political positions you disparage, your own positions are driven by ignorance of the data and value signaling. Which is especially sad considering your profession is to (supposedly) draw conclusions based on empirical data.

    * http://sblog.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/31035-pdf-Hepp-4.pdf

  • jmz4gtu says:

    "And I DO NOT recognize as a fact that unequal outcome necessarily means unequal opportunity to ultimately succeed"
    -ok, but there is documented and disproportionate unequal opportunity among some minority populations, so there's no need to try to intuit one from the other.

    "your demands to pervert the academic values (i.e. meritocracy) for the sake of forcing the equal outcome fall on deaf ears. "
    - I'm not sure American higher education has ever been a strict meritocracy (e.g. the discrimination against Jewish and homosexual populations), and they've always preferred "the right sort" of student, with various schools having different parameters that encompass their preferred type of student body.

    If that's changing now so that one qualification a person can have is being "different", then, in my opinion, that's probably good. But it's the University's business, not yours or mine.

    If the government wants to co-opt universities, which receive substantial benefits and subsidies, to enact a form of social engineering that is broadly popular (between 45-60%, depending on phrasing), that's its prerogative. Vote against the people that support it, but don't whinge about how its unfair because a group of people don't live up to your standards and so are beneath society's help.

    Personally, I think colleges and university are right to foster diversity, of income, race, and yes, intellectual ability.

    "people from such shitholes like the former Soviet Union (with satellites)"
    -At least in Soviet Russia, the public university education was quite good, and employed geographical and gender quotas. So I don't see your point vis-à-vis their success in the States.

  • AnonymousE says:

    "Are you seriously suggesting that US institutionalized racism directed at those who are African-American is the fault of said victims and not of anyone else"

    Considering that the said "institutionalized racism" doesn't impact other non-WASPs to the point of hindering their success, yes, African-Americans should take a long, hard look in the mirror.

    "the discrimination against Asian or Asian-American admissions to undergraduate institutions in the US is to the benefit of good old traditional white kids"

    So why defend these discriminatory practices? To the trash heap of history with them, no more white privilege (or any other privilege)!

  • AnonymousE says:

    "If the government wants to co-opt universities, which receive substantial benefits and subsidies, to enact a form of social engineering that is broadly popular (between 45-60%, depending on phrasing), that's its prerogative. "

    And to ignore or outright sabotage such efforts is MY prerogative. 🙂

  • AnonymousE says:

    As for the alleged broad popularity:
    "PRINCETON, NJ -- Two-thirds of Americans believe college applicants should be admitted solely based on merit, even if that results in few minorities being admitted, while 28% believe an applicant's racial and ethnic background should be taken into account to promote diversity on college campuses."
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/163655/reject-considering-race-college-admissions.aspx

  • jmz4gtu says:

    ^It really depends on how you phrase the question:

    http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/04/22/public-strongly-backs-affirmative-action-programs-on-campus/

    "Americans say by roughly two-to-one (63% to 30%) that affirmative action programs designed to increase the number of black and minority students on college campuses are a “good thing,” according to the survey conducted Feb. 27-Mar. 16. This was almost the same result Pew Research found in 2003."

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2014_04/public_opinion_on_affirmative050024.php

    If you read the Gallup poll's wording, you can see how it might bias respondents into being more negative, since it explicitly mentions giving the spot to a less qualified student (which, again, is not the case for Abby's situation).

  • DJMH says:

    "Considering that the said "institutionalized racism" doesn't impact other non-WASPs to the point of hindering their success, yes, African-Americans should take a long, hard look in the mirror."

    Just to be clear here: you're saying that a smart, hard-working, intellectually curious black girl who grows up in a family that tolerates, but does not promote, her efforts, should go to a lower-level school than a smart, laid-back, intellectually lazy white boy whose family stuffed him through SAT prep courses, because it's HER FAULT that her family / culture / whathaveyou wasn't as great.

    I mean, that's pretty harsh towards the black kid even if we grant you your racist conclusions about the Af-Am culture. (Not to mention, don't you think it would be good to reward people who turn that tide?)

    And if we instead point out the obvious, that white people have called black people lazy ever since they stopped working for free, your argument sounds even worse.

  • DJMH says:

    ps. every study on the results from resume-posting, hell even Airbnb postings, using names that signal whiteness vs blackness shows a bias. That's inequality of opportunity at its most basic level.

  • AnonymousE says:

    @DJMH
    I am saying that "a smart, hard-working, intellectually curious black girl who grows up in a family that tolerates, but does not promote, her efforts" should go wherever her smartness can carry her, and the same applies to a smart, hard working Asian boy, whose parents came from poverty UNIMAGINABLE to the parents of the aforementioned black girl.

    If we, whites, are so inherently racist, then where is our bias against the Chinese, especially a bias that would cause unequal outcome? Such bias is non-existent, and this is the proof that any current "underrepresentation" of African Americans is primarily their own fault (in collective terms!). First, because, as you correctly noted, the "smart, black girl's" family might be merely tolerant, rather than supportive. In fact, her family and especially her peers are more likely to be outright hostile toward her "acting white" , and this attitude is what the black community needs to deal with, instead of whining about "white privilege" (carefully omitting any mention of Asians and other underprivileged groups that would make the whole reasoning crumble).

    The second fault is even more important, IMO. Affirmative action sabotages the efforts of that smart black girl, by casting a doubt on her achievements. "Does her PhD represent a genuine talent and work, or rather is a participation award?" becomes a completely legitimate question, and in fact this creates a subtle bias that wouldn't exist without AA.

    " don't you think it would be good to reward people who turn that tide?"

    Yes. As individuals, based on individual merit. Definitely not as a group entitlement to a nominally "equal outcome".

  • drugmonkey says:

    Put differently, affirmative action is a hindrance, not a help, for preference beneficiaries who aspire to earn degrees in science and engineering

    You are still not grasping that affirmative action policies are as much, if not more, designed to affect changes in systematic problems as they are to benefit any one specific individual. So, assuming you were even right about this, you are looking at the wrong endpoint. The question is whether the climate is improved. If it is not, then this is more of a hindrance than a help to improving matters for all who are underrepresented. Others in this thread have linked to and mentioned the relevant data for your consideration wrt institutional unfriendliness. My business is to draw conclusions from empirical data, yes. It is also to fit together seemingly inconsistent and discordant "empirical data" into a synthetic whole that makes sense. It is most certainly not to cherry pick favored bits of data to shore up a pre-existing biased belief system.

    Considering that the said "institutionalized racism" doesn't impact other non-WASPs to the point of hindering their success, yes, African-Americans should take a long, hard look in the mirror.

    Fascinating.

    So why defend these discriminatory practices?

    I haven't.

    it explicitly mentions giving the spot to a less qualified student

    Yep. The tried and true misdirection of the confirmed anti-diversity, anti-fairness advocate. It juuuuust might swing those poll results. Sorry, "empirical data". Bigots just love to single out the worst possible comparisons- the failure of the lowest performing URMs against the privileged mean or even the top echelon. Try comparing like to like, as a default basal starting point. Then account for hurdles put in the way of URM. Alternately, since you love to cherry pick, make sure to assess the very top accomplishers in the URM populations (the ones that received some sort of affirmative action benefit - i.e. all from lily white institutions count according to some) against the mean or lower parts of the privileged distributions.

  • AnonymousE says:

    "Fascinating. "

    If an African-American wrote what I have written, he would be dismissed as a "race traitor" (e.g. Bill Cosby, the Pound Cake Speech). If a white American wrote this, he would be branded a "racist", "bigot" or whatever. The existence of Asians is too inconvenient to even acknowledge, so both this existence and their opinions are thrown in a memory hole. Perhaps that's why these common sense points are presented so rarely and appear, ah, so fascinating (you are welcome).

  • AnonymousE says:

    Sorry, I missed this particular gem:

    DJMH: "...even if we grant you your racist conclusions about the Af-Am culture. (Not to mention, don't you think it would be good to reward people who turn that tide?)"

    If my conclusion is "racist", then what "tide" are we talking about? Isn't it just a figment of imagination of a delusional, racist mind?

    Or perhaps some facts are acknowledged under the table, but officially constitute a taboo?

  • former staff scientist says:

    AnonymousE,
    I admire what you are trying to do, but for people like douche Monkey, belief in systemic oppression, institutionalized racism, and white privilege is a religion, and affirmative action is one of the most important sacraments. You may as well try to convince a fundamentalist Christian that evolution is a fact. I don't know how any white person ends up in this state of mind, but obviously it happens. A lot of it stems from the brainwashing that occurs in the U.S. educational system, culminating in college, where whites are encouraged to self flagellate. Since you are from Eastern Europe, you probably escaped most of this.

  • former staff scientist says:

    P.S. you should ask DM about the overrepresentation of blacks in professional (and other) sports. I bet with his twisted logic, he can find a way to attribute that to systemic oppression and white privilege, as well.

  • A Salty Scientist says:

    Dude, implicit bias is a well studied phenomenon. Resumé studies have been mentioned several times in this post. Why is it so hard to admit that even unconscious bias exists and that it may affect some groups more than others?

  • former staff scientist says:

    I do admit that. And when the bias is conscious, more often than not, it is based on experience. Why is it so hard for you to admit that different human populations have different average intelligences? There is no biological reason to expect that different human populations separated for tens of thousands of years in their evolution, and exposed to vastly different selective pressures during that time, should have necessarily developed identical intelligences. If you can think of one, please let me know.

  • jmz4gtu says:

    "If we, whites, are so inherently racist, then where is our bias against the Chinese, especially a bias that would cause unequal outcome?"
    The Chinese (as an example) were not enslaved and subject to laws that systematically denied them access to economic and educational opportunities for generations. Yes, they had a rough time where they came from and some had it rough when they came over (depending on what wave we're talking about, but most came after 1965 when the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed), but for the most part: the racism wasn't left to compound over 10-12 generations as it was with African Americans.
    This is part of what DM (and others) mean when they talk about institutionalized racism. Its as much about the current crop of biases as it is about the legacy of slavery that crippled multiple generations of black Americans. Some of the "cultural" problems you mention, likely started with this systemic disenfranchisement.

    You can't ignore history in this discussion and just pretend all the problems started in the last few decades.

    Affirmative action is an attempt to redress that iniquity by forcibly assimilating URMs into institutions that were previously engines of social mobility for the privileged. By its very nature, it can't be fair at the level of the individual, but it is fair at the macro level. Furthermore, it isn't about fairness (even if that's what it gets dressed up as). It's about promoting social stability, which is enhanced when there isn't as much racial tension in the country.

    "Why is it so hard for you to admit that different human populations have different average intelligences"
    -Show me any evidence that IQ and scientific (specifically) scholastic achievement are substantially correlated in a way that isn't completely swamped out by socioeconomic factors. Here's an example to get you started:
    http://scienceblogs.com/cognitivedaily/2007/07/07/high-iq-not-as-good-for-you-as-1/

  • AnonymousE says:

    "By its very nature, it can't be fair at the level of the individual, but it is fair at the macro level."

    And here is the crux of the problem: to me the individual perspective and fairness is what really counts. From this individual perspective you can also derive the following fundamental macro observation:

    An immigrant from, say, China, comes to the United States and starts essentially from zero. He had graduated from some obscure Chinese college, his English is poor, the local culture is alien to him, he brings no material assets from the old country. Yet he usually succeeds, retires comfortably wealthy and his kids to go to upper-tier academic institutions here.

    You attribute the systemic lack of African Americans' comparable success to starting from some "negative" territory due to the legacy of past slavery and racism. I don't buy it. WHAT prevents a black INDIVIDUAL from starting from the same level as that Chinese immigrant? What is available to that Chinese, is also available to a U.S.-born African American (in fact, much more). With a very minimal effort, there is no language barrier. Community colleges are free. Mechanisms to offset tuition at better institutions exist. A black individual is completely capable of starting from the same basic level as a new immigrant from China.

    There is no "negative territory" created by any external factors. There is no external "institutionalized racism". There is only African Americans' OWN mental inability to shed that burden of "10-12 generations of racism". If African Americans are oppressed, they are oppressed only by their OWN, self-destructive culture of victimhood. I don't believe it is MY responsibility to drag them out of this self-pity and its results, especially at the expense of things I value (such as meritocracy).

  • Skeptic says:

    "-Show me any evidence that IQ and scientific (specifically) scholastic achievement are substantially correlated in a way that isn't completely swamped out by socioeconomic factors. Here's an example to get you started:"

    Seriously, Jism?
    The Bell Curve is now just over 20 years old, but nothing in it has been overturned. I suggest you read it. (Please don't bring up that pathetic rebuttal by Gould.) Herrnstein and Murray presented their case in a very clever way. In the first half of their book, they focused only on whites, and showed that low IQ correlated with (essentially) everything bad (criminality, teenage pregnancy, poverty, etc.) Then in the second half of the book they focused on race and IQ. IQ and socioeconomic status go hand-in-hand. It's a chicken and egg problem. IQ influences your SES, which influences IQ. But IQ is a better predictor of good vs. bad life outcomes than SES. The article you cite states that self-discipline is more important for academic performance than IQ, and that there is no correlation between IQ and self-discipline. But I could not help but notice that those two lines seem to follow each other fairly closely. IQ can compensate for lack of self-discipline and vice versa. Now the question is how does self-discipline correlate with race?

  • Skeptic says:

    Here is an interesting article for all you social justice warriors. "What Israel tells us about affirmative action and race." http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/16/opinion/what-israel-tells-us-about-affirmative-action-and-race.html?_r=1

  • DJMH says:

    "If my conclusion is "racist", then what "tide" are we talking about? Isn't it just a figment of imagination of a delusional, racist mind?"

    This is what's called spotting you a card. You have a premise: that the Af-Am community is wholly at fault due to laziness, cultural attitudes, etc. I followed that premise through for you--if a black kid born into this community nonetheless succeeds--maybe not quite the SAT scores of the hypothetical white kid but still very good, despite lack of SAT prep classes--then shouldn't you WANT this kid to go to an elite college? Someone who succeeds despite that environment must surely be the best of the best.

    My point is that the logical conclusion of your argument ought to be pro-affirmative action, though of course it's also worth pointing out that your argument makes you an ignorant asshat. Read some American history; follow up with some current-day studies on resume hunting; and get back to us.

  • DJMH says:

    "An immigrant from, say, China, comes to the United States and starts essentially from zero."

    Which most people would say is way, way better than starting at negative 120 thanks to generations of forced illiteracy, violence, and rape of black slaves by white Americans.

  • drugmonkey says:

    And here is the crux of the problem: to me the individual perspective and fairness is what really counts.

    Obviously. And equally obviously this is not what "really counts" to many proponents of affirmative action including YHN and many commenters here. Speaking for myself, I view positions such as yours to generally be intentional misconceptions of the purpose of affirmative action because this misframing is viewed as the best, most palatable way to oppose it entirely.

    Now of course any one individual might simply be ignorant of the real purpose of affirmative action- I'll only judge you on the strength of what you've been exposed to in this comment thread. However given that this is a clear strategy on the part of the entrenched opposition to fairness and equality, when it comes to this theme being pursued vigorously by certain political agendas, well, I'll just go ahead and call that disingenuous and/or dishonest.

    There is no "negative territory" created by any external factors. There is no external "institutionalized racism". There is only African Americans' OWN mental inability to shed that burden of "10-12 generations of racism".

    Fascinating. Weren't you the one banging on about empirical data upthread?

  • drugmonkey says:

    .A black individual is completely capable of starting from the same basic level as a new immigrant from China.

    You have literally no idea what racial bias is.

  • former staff scientist says:

    "-Show me any evidence that IQ and scientific (specifically) scholastic achievement are substantially correlated in a way that isn't completely swamped out by socioeconomic factors."

    The paper you cite shows a reasonable correlation between IQ and GPA, and does not even account for (very likely) different courses students in the bottom quintile and top quintile take. I am not sure why you think scientific scholastic achievement would be different from any other scholastic achievement, but here is an interesting report from (ironically) The journal of blacks in higher education:
    "Blacks from families with incomes of more than $100,000 had a mean SAT score that was 85 points below the mean score for whites from all income levels, 139 points below the mean score of whites from families at the same income level, and 10 points below the average score of white students from families whose income was less than $10,000." Here is the link. http://www.jbhe.com/features/49_college_admissions-test.html

    Here is another interesting report from the UC system: http://www.cshe.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/shared/publications/docs/ROPS.CSHE_.10.15.Geiser.RaceSAT.10.26.2015.pdf
    From the abstract (referring to SAT scores): "Rather than declining in salience, race and ethnicity are now more important than either family income or parental education in accounting for test score differences."

  • DJMH says:

    Oh good heavens. Look, it is fairly simple. If we operated in a world in which there was no racial bias against blacks, and had not been for the last 70 years, you could make an argument that the failures of the black community are theirs to own.

    If in contrast, we lived in Reality, where:
    (a) employers don't call back people with black names at the rates they call back people with white names, for IDENTICAL resumes;

    (b) school desegregation efforts in the 70s and 80s shrank the black-white test gap, but increasing segregation since then (hello, white flight!) has led to re-widening the gap;

    (c) blacks were barred, by the federal government's post-war housing policies, from buying homes in communities that then appreciated greatly, leading a vast disparity in white and black wealth (seriously, the gap in wealth is almost entirely attributable to this phenomenon)

    (just to list a few examples for which there is incontrovertible, clear evidence) then maybe it is prudent to think, "Hey, it's going to be awfully hard to disentangle IQ and racial effects until the systematic racism of this society is eliminated. Maybe I should not make assumptions that denigrate whole swaths of America until then."

  • Newbie PO says:

    Thanks for the links, former staff scientist, but I'm not sure you read either of them as neither invokes IQ. DJMH already did an excellent job addressing this, but there's a section in the UC report on the impact of neighborhood and school segregation that was particularly informative, and which took me to another helpful paper (Vigdor and Ludwig, 2007):
    http://www.nber.org/papers/w12988.pdf.

  • former staff scientist says:

    Like it or not, the SAT is an intelligence test. I cited those reports in response to someone else's comment that scholastic achievement is primarily a function of SES. It isn't.

    "blacks were barred, by the federal government's post-war housing policies, from buying homes in communities that then appreciated greatly, leading a vast disparity in white and black wealth (seriously, the gap in wealth is almost entirely attributable to this phenomenon)"

    And what explains the wealth gap between sub-Saharan Africa or Haiti and the United States, or Europe, or Japan, or South Korea?

  • drugmonkey says:

    Colonialism.

  • jmz4gtu says:

    "WHAT prevents a black INDIVIDUAL from starting from the same level as that Chinese immigrant? "
    Is the definition of the word culture unclear to you? if your parents, aunts uncles and grandparents, like their parents before them, grew up without an appreciation for education or too poor to afford one, you don't see how that might influence your level of scholastic achievement? There is a legacy of racism, in our culture, and its impacts on society to this day are clear. The other explanation being advanced (by skeptic) is racial inferiority, which is largely disproven by genetic analyses indicating race is primarily a social construct.
    Sinc Skeptic seems to have descended to the level of name calling (though I'll allow a possible unfortunate auto correct), I'm just going to summarize what I believe to be the failings of his arguments in this and other discussions and end my involvement in the discourse. His general assertion is that racial disparities in intelligence, as measured by IQ, account for both the failure of black individuals to gain access to higher education generally, and, through a hypothetical lack of grant-writing ability, tenure track faculty positions. Your own disputed source, the Bell Curve, argues that intelligence is influenced profoundly by socioeconomic factors. And, in the US, socioeconomic factors are profoundly influenced by race. So even if intelligence were the sole determinant of scholastic and scientific success (it almost certainly isn't), race would still have the effect of reducing diversity in science. As such, AA is still appropriate to redress this imbalance.

    I think the bone of contention is really this. If I am a 85%ile white scientist and I'm looking for a job, should I get it in front of a slightly more mediocre 80%ile). black scientist? I think DM and I would argue that it is entirely appropriate and good for science to consider diversity a qualification and employ the black scientist. And universities make the same determination.

  • drugmonkey says:

    More like should 40%ile white scientist get in front of 80th %ile black scientist. Because that is what we have under our current perceptions of "fair" in the US.

  • AnonymousE says:

    jmz4gtu, but this is exactly my point!

    "Is the definition of the word culture unclear to you? if your parents, aunts uncles and grandparents, like their parents before them, grew up without an appreciation for education(...)"

    I understand the word "culture" and actually have used it in previous posts to identify the factor responsible for African Americans' lack of success.

    The solution is binary:

    1. You reject this culture and start appreciating education. It's your free choice made ONLY against your own social conditioning. At the moment you decide to appreciate education, you are already appreciating it. This immediately opens up all the opportunities available to that Chinese immigrant I used as an example.
    OR
    2. You rather prefer to stay confined within this culture and still do not appreciate education. In this case, a decent university is definitely not a place for you. Affirmative action should not attempt to change the situation at the expense of others (who do appreciate), and actually against your own wishes.

    But, of course, you, social warriors, want to eat the cake and have it too. Preserve the black culture of self-pity and aversion toward education as "acting white", yet get the rewards associated with education (not education per se). Affirmative action is the tool to make such imbecilic perversion possible, even if only nominally, and the whole scheme is securely wrapped in taboos against analyzing the logic involved.

  • AnonymousE says:

    DJMH: "I followed that premise through for you--if a black kid born into this community nonetheless succeeds--maybe not quite the SAT scores of the hypothetical white kid but still very good, despite lack of SAT prep classes--then shouldn't you WANT this kid to go to an elite college? Someone who succeeds despite that environment must surely be the best of the best."

    And in one of my earlier posts (December 11, 2015 at 6:29 pm) I expressed my support for the "top 10% from each high school" idea that rewards such achievers with college admissions.

    Evidently, this moderate, race-blind solution is not "affirmative" enough for some. But maybe I am wrong. Let's try: Hey, people, how about reaching a consensus at the "top 10%" compromise?

  • jmz4gtu says:

    "It's your free choice made ONLY against your own social conditioning. At the moment you decide to appreciate education, you are already appreciating it. This immediately opens up all the opportunities available to that Chinese immigrant I used as an example."
    -No. Just because someone decides to go against their "cultural conditioning" (an action of such profundity and self-awareness, I think it would elude most 17-year olds) doesn't mean it automatically grants them all the advantages of growing up in a culture where scholastic achievement is normalized and encouraged.
    This is where Affirmative Action is helpful.

    I could have an IQ of 120, but all the self-motivation in the world isn't going to get me as far as the kid with an IQ of a 100 but a tutor and parents that are invested in his test scores. On average. For a population.

    "Affirmative action should not attempt to change the situation at the expense of others (who do appreciate), and actually against your own wishes. "
    -Which isn't what it does. Student B and Student C both want to go to college. The school is factoring a myriad of different priorities and possibilities when assembling its student body. Even determining academic achievement amongst a single demographic is difficult, and requires weighting for grade inflation, letters of recommendation, etc. To say they can't allow for some compensation for the student's cultural and socioeconomic background is completely ridiculous.

    "But, of course, you, social warriors, want to eat the cake and have it too."
    -As an aside, there is nothing wrong with this. If we could give everyone the lifestyle of a college graduate, we should.

  • AnonymousE says:

    I think we are slowly reaching the point where we have to agree to disagree, simply because it boils down to different personal perspectives and priorities. I don't care about African Americans as a group. I do care about every talented individual. Be also aware that the society is not divided just between oppressing WASPs and oppressed blacks. There are other groups, and my anti-affirmative action views are definitely shared by every Asian I discussed these matters with (actually, they tend to express their sentiments in much uglier terms). These people are waking up, and the recent Asian lawsuit against Harvard is part of a pattern, not an outlier.

    This discussion slowly drifted toward a semi-consensus that African Americans' lack of success is attributable to the black culture (with minor occasional hiccups, where the fact itself was acknowledged, but I was branded "racist" for having the audacity to raise the subject).

    We have some major progress here, this is definitely a very non-PC point of view. Differences remain with regard to affirmative action as a tool for changing this culture. I am against, but I am willing to compromise my "strict meritocracy" position a little, in favor of promoting social mobility: top 10% from every school. Blind to race. Accounting for socioeconomic status and rewarding achievers.

  • DJMH says:

    It's super fun to pit one minority pool against another to rage them up, isn't it?

    Also, there's a lot of uneducated, lazy Chinese. It's just that they don't tend to move to the States. I bet the same is even true of Eastern Europeans!

    FWIW I do think the 10% solution is a decent patch, though its success at diversification relies on the segregation of schools, which is part of the problem, not the solution. But UT admits like 75% of their pool this way. I don't have a problem with their using the remaining slots to find a great bassoon player, or a kid with lower grades but amazing community service, or a kid who has overcome a lot of obstacles and made it far.

    And though you wish to pretend otherwise via a peculiar contempt for history, the past and current reality of this country means that black kids, by and large, are fighting more obstacles than white kids.

  • Skeptic says:

    "Colonialism." Pathetic.

    "Also, there's a lot of uneducated, lazy Chinese. It's just that they don't tend to move to the States."

    I guess that explains why China is set to pass up the U.S. as the worlds largest economy in the near future. Lazy bastards.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Are you really this stupid? The population that emigrated to the US for employment opportunities is unlikely to be representative.

  • former staff scientist says:

    I don't think that Skeptic was saying it necessarily is. The point is that there are obviously enough intelligent industrious Chinese still in China to build a powerhouse economy. I just looked it up, and it looks they may pass the U.S. as the worlds largest economy as soon as this year, as measured by PPP. The question is why can't extremely resource rich countries in sub-Saharan Africa also build prosperous societies? Oh yeah, some nebulous remnant of colonialism that seems to be immune to trillions of dollars in aid and scores of volunteers from the west to assist.

  • dsks says:

    "I just looked it up, and it looks they may pass the U.S. as the worlds largest economy as soon as this year, as measured by PPP"

    Yeah, but the population is 4 times bigger than the US. GDP per capita on the other hand is paltry by comparison.

    As it is, I'm struggling to see why all this talk of Chinese and sub-Saharan African economies has to do with AA for African Americans... other than perhaps some argument being made about generics and smarts, which is a bit sinister.

  • AnonymousE says:

    DM: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/56703e08e4b0e292150f40c4

    The careful omission of any mention of Asians in that story does not promote trust in the source's credibility and impartiality.

  • Skeptic says:

    FSS, yes of course that is what I meant. Drug Monkey is smart enough to know that, but when you have lost an argument, sometimes your best bet is to insult your opponent. Maybe I should respond with "I'm rubber; you're glue...."

    "As it is, I'm struggling to see why all this talk of Chinese and sub-Saharan African economies has to do with AA for African Americans... other than perhaps some argument being made about generics and smarts, which is a bit sinister."

    I assume you meant genetics and smarts. Well, I am not a psychometrician by training, though I have done a fair bit of research on the subject. And from what I have read, it seems there is broad agreement that intelligence has very high heritability, as high as 80% by the time one reaches adulthood. Thus, it is plausible (to say the least) that race differences in intelligence have a substantial genetic component. In fact, if you look at all of the data, the evidence that genetics plays a large role in the black-white (Asian) IQ gap is somewhere between strong and overwhelming. You can call that sinister if you like, but as scientists, we are supposed to be interested in reality, not fantasy. I really wish these intelligence differences did not exist, because it would eliminate virtually all national and global equality. But in the words of the late great Stephen Jay Gould, "Nature doesn't give a damn about my preferences."

  • shrew says:

    Great job white supremacists. Nice maneuver bringing in East Asians as a fig leaf for your disgusting prejudice. As scientists, we are not supposed to only seek out evidence in support of our hypotheses. There is a whole host of evidence to remove support for this bullshit genetic-psychometric argument as support for racist assumptions of a lack of intelligence (as if that were truly measurable by a single index, G hasn't actually been proven, you know) for the most genetically diverse people in the world (people of African heritage).

    Just poorly defined terms and shifting goalposts to support good old fashioned white supremacy. Fan fucking tastic.

  • A Salty Scientist says:

    It's quite rich to get criticized for not making data-based arguments by people espousing pseudoscientific racism.

  • Eli Rabett says:

    Uri Treisman created a model for teaching calculus at UC Berkeley that pretty much falsifies everything being said here

    http://www.achievementseminars.com/seminar_series_2005_2006/readings/Treisman_Studying_Students_Studying_Calculus_1992.pdf

    Those calling for data would do well to read it.

  • drugmonkey says:

    That article is hilarious. Full of gems such as "...all factors, incidentally and conveniently, over which we had no control".

  • The Other Dave says:

    Treisman is a God among math educators. In his discussions about common core standards, he brought my attention to 'Campbell's law', from the 1970s:

    "The more any quantitative social indicator (or even some qualitative indicator) is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor."

    ...which takes us back to Impact Factors and H-indices and stuff. How could we hard scientists have ended up 40 years behind the social sciences?

  • drugmonkey says:

    The Supreme Court has upheld UT's affirmative-action policy and told the plaintiff to take a seat.

  • shrew says:

    GrumpyCatGood.jpg

Leave a Reply