“The Myth of American Meritocracy: How corrupt are Ivy League admissions?”

There is a new and stimulating piece by Ron Unz, in The American Conservative.  The article covers plenty of ground, but I took away two main points.  The first is that there is massive and quite unjustified bias against Asian and Asian-American students in the U.S. admissions process.  Yes, I already thought that but it turns out it is much worse than I had thought.  Yet many people support this aspect of our current admissions systems, either directly or indirectly.

The second point is the claim that Jewish academic achievement in America is collapsing at the top end, in relative terms at least.

For reasons which are possibly irrational on my end, but perhaps not totally irrational, I am not entirely comfortable with the religious and ethnic and racial “counting” methods applied in this piece (blame me for mood affiliation if you wish).  Still, it is an interesting read and after some internal debate I thought I would pass it along, albeit with caveats.

In any case, the link to the article is here.


"blame me for mood affiliation if you wish"

it will be my pleasure.
you mood affiliated chalupa!

ps does this mean you recognize that your open borders cheerleading may sit on a throne of lies?

Can we test moms at the border for their tiger-ness?

i'd rather test them for their waist-hip ratios and BMIs.

The second point is the claim that Jewish academic achievement in America is collapsing at the top end, in relative terms at least.

I haven't yet read Unz's piece and don't know what evidence he presents for this claim, but I would think that the high rate of intermarriage among Jews would tend to cut down on Jewish achievements.

?????? and your reasoning is??????? Don't say that it's dilution of the gene pool.

Adoption of mainstream American culture.

Or a discovery of Hollywood?

That the public education system is, in general, turning out dumber people?

"Don’t say that it’s dilution of the gene pool."

why not? because it'll aggravate your ulcer? create suppressed ill will at your next cocktail party? it's a fact that jews on average have a higher mean IQ than white gentiles. if intermarriage has increased in the past 50 years (and data says it has) then it stands to reason there are more half-jewish ivy applicants whose IQs are a bit lower on average than their parents and grandparents. This may not explain the whole story behind declining jewish achievement, but it's worth looking into, no?

The IQ boost is only evident among Askenazi Jews, who marry late and have few children. The ultra-orthodox on the other hand breed like rabbits, and they're IQs are not as high. This may explain why there are fewer super high achieving Jews as a % of the total Jewish population as their once were.

As a side note, the author of the piece also cites statistics claiming that Jewish IQ isn't very different from whites of northern European descent, as well as a study of Episcopals that had higher IQs than Jews.

I've seen one study of SAT scores where test-takers self-identifying as Episcopalian did very well and another where they weren't that elevated.

There's one group that far outstrips the Askenazi with respect to average IQ - self-identified atheists.

But, what's the average IQ of Jewish atheists?

Jewish atheists are only beaten by Asian Jewish atheists.

"Jewish atheists are only beaten by Asian Jewish atheists."

Whose grandparents came from Fujian Province and Budapest.

" it’s a fact that jews on average have a higher mean IQ than white gentiles"

Right, because in-breeding always produces that result.

" it’s a fact that jews on average have a higher mean IQ than white gentiles. if intermarriage has increased in the past 50 years (and data says it has) then it stands to reason there are more half-jewish ivy applicants whose IQs are a bit lower on average than their parents and grandparents."

Well, only if you assume the white gentiles in question are of lower intelligence. But of course the white gentiles Jews tend to intermarry with are usually the sort who are high IQ themselves.

Has "dilution of the gene pool" been ruled out?

The article actually addresses this. A good screen for who read it. I concur with the author's opinion that what comes out as IQ relates to what goes in as educational focus and effort.

Exactly. Enough of this "IQ is tied to genetics" nonsense. There's a reason why no one in academia with the exception of noteable loons like Charles Murray would argue otherwise.

Luke: satire, I assume?

I was a skinny little guy in high school, without a girlfriend, who scored 98th percentile on the standardized tests. There is not a doubt in my mind that a girlfriend would have made me happier, and lowered my "IQ." I can only imagine that some with much lower scores are running their own counter-factuals ...

Luke is right. Everyone knows that the only thing tied to genetics is basketball.

" Don’t say that it’s dilution of the gene pool."

Perhaps Jews who intermarry are selecting for traits other than intelligence?

However, you folks actually need to read the article first. Unz makes a crucial point that Jews used to achieve Phi Beta Kappa status in numbers equal to or greater than their admission rates. Now they don't (by large margins). In other words, Jews are still being admitted in huge numbers to Ivy League schools, but aren't doing all that well as students.

That shift can not be plausibly blamed on intermarriage, the gene pool, etc.

For better or worse, there is conspicuous evidence of discrimination against non-Jewish whites. There is no evidence that the discrimination is explicit or intentional. However, it is very clear that college admission policies have that effect. See "The Roots of White Anxiety" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/19/opinion/19douthat.html?_r=0). A few quotes (but read it all).

"Last year, two Princeton sociologists, Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford, published a book-length study of admissions and affirmative action at eight highly selective colleges and universities. Unsurprisingly, they found that the admissions process seemed to favor black and Hispanic applicants, while whites and Asians needed higher grades and SAT scores to get in. But what was striking, as Russell K. Nieli pointed out last week on the conservative Web site Minding the Campus, was which whites were most disadvantaged by the process: the downscale, the rural and the working-class."

"This was particularly pronounced among the private colleges in the study. For minority applicants, the lower a family’s socioeconomic position, the more likely the student was to be admitted. For whites, though, it was the reverse. An upper-middle-class white applicant was three times more likely to be admitted than a lower-class white with similar qualifications."

"But cultural biases seem to be at work as well. Nieli highlights one of the study’s more remarkable findings: while most extracurricular activities increase your odds of admission to an elite school, holding a leadership role or winning awards in organizations like high school R.O.T.C., 4-H clubs and Future Farmers of America actually works against your chances. Consciously or unconsciously, the gatekeepers of elite education seem to incline against candidates who seem too stereotypically rural or right-wing or “Red America.”"

"This provides statistical confirmation for what alumni of highly selective universities already know. The most underrepresented groups on elite campuses often aren’t racial minorities; they’re working-class whites (and white Christians in particular) from conservative states and regions. Inevitably, the same underrepresentation persists in the elite professional ranks these campuses feed into: in law and philanthropy, finance and academia, the media and the arts."

I don't think the administrator have an explicit intent to exclude non-Jewish whites. They would be just as biased against a Jewish kid from Nebraska who excelled in ROTC. However, the effect of elite admission preferences is a deep de facto bias

I recall that many elite universities used to have admissions policies that discriminated in favor of applicants from out of the way places like, say, Wyoming. (Colleges like to boast that they have students from all 50 states.) I recall that an old Jewish professor of mine at Rice U. was upset that this policy of geographic diversity cut down on the number of Jewish students admitted, since Jews tended to be clustered in high performing suburbs. Also, Rice had a policy of bias in favor of Texans that he objected to. I believe he led a campaign that succeeded in getting Rice to drop geography as a plus factor in admissions a couple of decades ago, but I'm hazy on the details. What about at other colleges?

I am told by friends who are affiliated with Purdue University that in the 1950s the university accepted people from New York State as long as they lived north of New York City. This was understood as being designed to keep out Jewish students. I don't have data, but based on personal knowledge (I live in Indiana) I think it is extremely likely that there are still today substantially fewer Jewish students at Purdue than at Indiana University; both schools have large out-of-state enrollments.

At my Ivy alma mater, they surely did in the 1980's, and I may have benefitted myself as there were only two of us in my class from my state (the other being a son of a billionaire and the brother of Ross Perot's neighbor). And indeed there was a girl from Wyoming just a couple of doors down. But that doesn't mean that White kids in flyover country didn't face obstacles. I remember a girl from Kentucky telling me that at her offcampus interview she was told that she was too All-American for my alma mater (she was a cheerleader and very good-looking). She went to school elsewhere.

"...have admissions policies that discriminated in favor of applicants from out of the way places..."

"... had a policy of bias in favor of Texans..."

Pick one.

Jimi, Rice is in Texas. Almost ever college discriminates in favor of geographically close areas.

Elite colleges discriminate in favor of a lot of different groups. For example, Harvard tries to skim the cream off the elites of underpopulated states like Wyoming, so that it can have a big influence over Wyoming. NYU loves teen movie stars. And so forth ...

A generation ago, notoriously, the worst thing to be for the purpose of college admissions was from Shaker Heights, outside of Cleveland. It wasn't so much that schools intentionally discriminated against Shaker Heights applicants, just that nobody discriminated in favor of them. It was a well-to-do suburb full of bright kids, but it was still a suburb of Cleveland so it wasn't America's power elite's kids or movie stars' kids, and they weren't exotics either from cowboy country or wherever.

Jewish faculty would complain that this led to disparate impact discrimination against Jewish applicants. Back then, they didn't get anywhere.

Maybe that has changed?

Part of the bias against college applicants who look like they may wind up as soldiers or farmers is simply that there isn't much money in those fields, so how can we expect them to write huge checks to the alumni development fund in 30 years?

On the other hand, there is likely a cultural bias as well. After all, the great Zionist leaders of 100 years ago were explicit about their goal of transforming Jews who moved to Israel into a regular nation of soldiers and farmers, and about how much work it would take to alter the pro-urbanite culture of the last couple of millennia.

Yes, "dilution" of the gene pool is certainly one reason. It's very unlikely that the extreme overrepresentation of Jews among high achievers in intellectual fields is just a matter of culture. The genetic advantage is probably related to both IQ and some aspects of personality.

Another reason why intermarriage may lead to lower Jewish achievement is that to the extent that there's a specific Jewish culture that fosters high achievement, this culture is less likely to be passed on to children in mixed marriages.

Finally, intermarriage means that the number of people identifying as Jews decreases each generation, and those who do identify as Jews are increasingly religious conservatives who don't represent the brightest section of the population. These trends are reducing the number of Jewish high achievers, too.

Unz's piece is impressive, the best of his I've read. However, I would double-check his numbers before putting much trust in them, because he has a tendency of fumbling his numbers so that they end up corroborating his arguments much better than they actually do. However, the general ethnic/racial trends he identifies are certainly correct. His proposal for an overhaul of the admissions system does not make sense though.

The genetic advantage is probably related to both IQ and some aspects of personality...Another reason why intermarriage may lead to lower Jewish achievement is that to the extent that there’s a specific Jewish culture that fosters high achievement, this culture is less likely to be passed on to children in mixed marriages.

Excellent point. And one that should be studied. I married into a Jewish family and was very surprised kids were allowed and encouraged to do things that were "shamed" as bad in a Christian family. Things like showing off your talents on stage, talking openly about achievement, and getting to have adult discussion with adults. There is a tradition in Christianity and Catholicism in particular of kids being "sushed," especially when it comes to showing off their achievement, which is considered bragging and being ostentatious. This must stem from the religions and the bible, but I'm not sure exactly how.

Thanksgiving Day, I'd noticed my (Catholic) nephew wanted to show me a trophy but had me meet him halfway up the stairs. I didn't think much about this until I learned he wasn't allowed to bring it downstairs, because that was considered "showing off." He's apparently already "good enough" at too many things, so they're trying to clamp down on his (imagined) ego. He's four.

Simple model: Between 500 AD to 1900 AD there was heavy selection on Ashkenazi for intelligence genes. You essentially took a small European sub-population and heavily bred for intelligence. These selection pressures produced a number of genetic mutations common among Ashkenazi, but rare among European gentiles. The mutations produced higher intelligence but came with tradeoffs. For example its well established that Jews have higher rates of Alzheimers, much higher rates of Tay-Sachs, etc.

However not all of these mutations are not equivalent in their tradeoff. Some might produce a free intelligence gain for little to no cost. Some might produce an intelligence but incur a serious penalty in some other way. Typically the genes that are more pure net wins will tend to be strictly dominant. The genes that aren't will either be recessive or co-dominant. But at the end of the day because of the selection pressures we know that most Jewish mutations are heavily intelligence favoring.

Second fact, modern-day Ashkenazi tend to be typically closely genetically related. Any two randomly select Jews of European ancestry will have a genetic relatedness of between third and fifth cousins. This is not surprising since they make up a tiny sub-population that up until now has exclusively interbred. Basic genetics tell us that the more related two parents are to each other the more likely their kids are to end up with homozygous genes, and hence the more likely that recessive gene is to express itself.

Finally what do we know about the period of Jewish-gentile interbreeding that took off circa 1970. It was also the era of assortive mating. In this period people basically only marry those who are at an equal class level as them. Since the upper class in also more intelligence we would expect that the gentiles that Jews are meeting and marrying in the elite universities they attend and the prestigious firms that they work at most likely represent the upper end of the gentile distribution of intelligence.

Combining high intelligence Jewish mutations with high intelligence gentile mutations their offspring's mean intelligence is probably pretty much the same as if he had two Jewish parents. However now the parents are much more distantly related, so the genotype of the offspring will tend to be much more heterozygotic. Meaning that much fewer of those recessive genes will show.

Okay, how does this explain falling Jewish participation in the upper echelons of academic achievement. Unz cites the International Math Olympiad (IMO) and similar competitions. Just to be clear everyone must be aware that the IMO selects about a dozen students from the entire country to compete. We are literally talking about the smartest human beings on Earth.

What populations do we expect to well at these competitions? Certainly those populations with high mean intelligence that's obvious. But we're also looking at the extreme right tails. When considering these points population variance is as likely to be a factor as population mean. As an analogy the biggest winner in a poker tournament isn't usually just the best player, but a combination of the best player and the biggest risk taker.

Going back to although Jewish inter-breeding does not decrease intelligence mean, it most certainly decreases intelligence variance by smoothing out the uncertainties related to recessive expression.

One vague trend is that movie stars (Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, the Gyllenhaals, and many more), politicians (Sarkozy, DSK, John Kerry), and the smarter sort of athletes (e.g., slugger Ryan Braun, who juiced his way to an MVP award and then lawyered his way out of his PED suspension) seem to be increasingly part-Jewish. This could just be a consequence of increasing inter-marriage, but I also suspect that shaking up both nature and nurture tends to generate more individuals out at the far right tail of unusual selection criteria.

OK, laugh track alert. What 'trend' are you positing here? Have any data or a flurry of names? There's always been Jewish or part Jewish movie stars, politicians, and athletes. There's no reliable way to tell if there's more or less of them now. And you know this. Anecdote much?

I know it's fashionable to proclaim one's ignorance about things you aren't supposed to notice, but the reality is that more than a few Jews keep track of Jewish participation in various fields. For example, here's a headline last month in Slate (which is edited by David Plotz):

"Franklin Foer: Why Are There No Great Jewish Golfers?

"Frank Foer co-edited the new book "Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame," which profiles not only famous athletes like Sandy Koufax but lesser known figures such as the boxer Benny Leonard and the fencer Helene Mayer. There’s only one golfer in the book—Corey Pavin—and he converted to Christianity before winning his one major championship, the US Open. What accounts for the dearth of notable Jewish golfers?"


Those are some nice hands you are waving there, Steve. So you concede my point? Or do you have actual data to counter my accusation of anecdoting?

And just mentioning golf ain't enough. In fact that anecdote works against your thesis...at least in that one athletic activity there ISN'T a 'vague trend' of more Jews.

Wikipedia has many, many actively maintained lists of prominent Jews in various fields. There are a number of Jewish-run websites that delve extremely deeply into exactly how Jewish, from both nature and nurture standpoints, various celebrities are.

For movies, today is not an era when a lot of 100% Jewish actors are doing well as big stars. But part Jewish stars are strikingly common.

The interesting question is whether the growth in part-Jewish movie stars is faster than the growth in part-Jews in general due to intermarriage.

Don't forget Aaron Rodgers and David Beckham.

Well of course you are enthusiastic about the article, Steve Sailer! You were one of the data sources cited by the article author, R. Unz, regarding the Jews of California, the Gold||x where x = stein, man, berg, fein, fine, blatt etc. You were cited three times, in three sections as an authoritative source, especially about the decline and fall of Jewish achievement pertaining to National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists.

I don't recall who was responsible for the article's claim that there were 60,000 Jews in the state of California, and that that accounted for 10% (or more) of the Jewish population of the U.S.A. Yet there were a mere 4, that's FOUR, Jewish National Merit Scholarship Semi-finalists in a recent, possibly specified year. Or so it said.

The following is a straw man argument, I suspect:, The article's credibility is not enhanced by your theory, as espoused in one of the comments here, regarding the protagonist of "Portnoy's Complaint" and his yearning for the illicit shiksa. You used that to buttress a response to another's comment (I may be reacting on an emotional level however, given that I would like a Jewish husband of my own, very much).

Disclaimer: I have no doubt that Asian American students face a variety of forms of discrimination in college admissions. I was troubled to note that it seems to be getting worse over the past 10-15 years, not better, based on the article.

lady you seem unhinged

"Simple model: Between 500 AD to 1900 AD there was heavy selection on Ashkenazi for intelligence genes."

Is there any historical evidence for this supposed selection? What is historically attested in sever in-breeding in geographically and socially restricted separate gene pools. In-breeding doesn't generally profduce higher intelligence.

Of course there is. Ashkenazi Jews in the Middle Ages had A. very low inward gene flow, B. had a very unusual job mix, msotly white collar stuff like moneylending, trade, estate management, etc (while the vast majority of other populations were farmers) , and C. Fertility increased strongly with income, as was generally the case in Europe in those times. Higher IQs help you succeed in white collar jobs, more so than in farming, so you get mild selection for higher IQ. Iterate this for 40 generations and Jacob's your uncle. And of course epigenetic effects contributed, or at least they would have if inheritance was Lamarckian, which it isn't.

Here's a New York Times article on this:



You should illustrate everything you say with a stock photo of a brain scan and the word "epigenetics" in bold type. You'd make as much money as Jonah Lehrer!

It has also been speculated that the heavy Jewish cultural emphasis on education played a factor - a not-so-bright Jew, facing the prospect of a really undesirable bride (if any at all), might be more likely to convert and assimilate into the general Christian population, trimming the left tail of the Jewish intelligence distribution. Other motives would be during forced conversion campaigns by the local Christians, finding that being no-so-bright for a Jew reduced some of the advantage that Jews had, while keeping all the disadvantages of being Jewish - either way, the effect would be the same.

Weren't these factors also in play for the Roma?

The Roma did not have the same occupations as Jews, like moneylender. They are known for their illiteracy. James Scott's "The Art of Not Being Governed" has some material on how they and other nomadic peoples explain their tradition of illiteracy, often involving it being stolen from them or mistakenly lost. He thinks it's a strategy to avoid being tied to fixed written history or something like that.

I have heard that there used to be more Jews but only a certain type of person was willing and able to keep up with the custsoms, the rest converted.

Jews are Middle Eastern. I know Jews hate when it's recognized. They hate when you acknowledge they are not European. They may have some European admixture but they are not European.

Oh please, the Ashkenazim were in Europe for hundreds if not thousands of years. And a fair amount of Gentile blood got raped into their gene pool in the pogroms.

Your statement is like saying 'Americans are German and English...they hate this blah blah blah'

Msgkings heads right into the "White people do it too" excuse. No, they don't. European Americans acknowledge they are European. They are not bandwagoning off the identities of others like Jews do.

Okay, then, Ashkenazi Jews were Middle Eastern colonists living in Eastern Europe, just as whites in the Western Hemisphere are colonists.

And most Americans ARE in fact German/English/Irish. Call it the generic American mix if you will.

Thanks Doug, you've explained it very well. Some interesting stuff in there.


Interesting theory.

Maybe people with a Jewish surname but a gentile mom turn out to be more well-rounded, of the type that American colleges traditionally like? But being a little taller and better looking and more laid-back comes at the cost of Unz-like intellectual intensity?

Easy model: intermarriage reduces incidence of Jewish 'names', thus screwing up his system of deducing what percent of nms semifinalists are jewish.

He does account for that somewhat, just comparing % among popular ethnic names- e.g. comparing % of Kims vs. % of Cohens who are NMS. Also, he uses the same method you critique for college admissions numbers, so even if you are right it does not explain the high admissions rates of people with Jewish names.

I'm a Jewish convert to Christianity, and both of my Catholic daughters have a Jewish last name. Their mother is Catholic.

I've said in an earlier post that Judaism is a dying religion for several reasons. First, from declining birth rates. Second from religious conversion. Third from being diluted. Fourth from a lack of evangelism. More disturbing than that are the nominal Jews who are, in fact, atheists.

Obviously the genetics will survive but the religion dwindles.

The number of seats in graduate school are limited. Those are being filled increasingly by Asians to the relative detriment of Americans of any religion, Latin Americans, and Eastern Europeans.

American Reform Judaism is 'dying' as you point out, and for those reasons. But Orthodox Jews have plenty of kids and mostly don't intermarry or convert. And Jews in other parts of the world don't have the same assimilation going on.

Judaism has been around for over 5000 years, it may evolve but it ain't going to die.

You made your choice, others made a different one. My generation in my extended family is more religious than my parents' were. My children are even more religious and definitely not attracted to reform Judaism. I would add this observation to msgkings below.

It's not dying, but the Reform wing definitely is, and the Conservative may be too. There will be Jews in 2200, but they will all be Lubavitcher and Satmar types, unless some secularizing revolution overtakes the Haredim and their birth rates crash too.

Depends upon the sex ratio of intermarriages, which is an interesting subject in itself.

Interesting. Can you elaborate?

I can. For example, Asian-Jewish intermarriage has increased dramatically the past 20 years(co-inciding, curiously, with the fall in Jewish achievement. Maybe it's because of the status? Marrying a Jew is like getting into Ivy Leage for Asians. I mean, at the dinner table. If you're not marrying an Asian, better marry a Jew than, say, a black person.)

Still, these intermarriage trends are hugely skewed towards one gender. It's very rare to see Jewish women marry Asian men but of course it does happen. The stats I've seen on this is that about 80% (in some cases more) of all these intermarriages are between Jewish men and Asian women. There's a slight exception to this rule, however, and that is for South Asians.

In fact, the skewed Jewish/Asian gender ratio is higher than it is for whites generally. Native-born white men marry native-born Asian women at a lesser ratio compared to native-born Asian men these days. But because 75% of the Asian population are immigrants(and remember all those mailorder brides!), this is a statistic that is less known.

Jewish men are widely considered good catches as husbands: they tend to make decent money, seldom become alcoholics, are less likely to beat their wives, and seem less inclined toward serial marriages. (The appeal of Jewish men to gentile women looking for husbands is discussed, for example, in Philip Roth's "Portnoy's Complaint").

If mixed marriages tend to be more Jewish husband-gentile wife, which seems likely, then the proportion of kids with Jewish surnames but only half-Jewish genomes and upbringings will increase faster than if the intermarriages are mostly gentile husbands and Jewish wives.

It could also simply be that in general, Jewish women aren't all that in the looks (or attitude) department. For every Bar Refaeli there are probably 100 Bella Abzugs and Andrea Dworkins.

Unz makes one egregious error by not including UC Santa Barbara as one of the five top UC campuses. It far outranks the Irvine and Davis campuses in a number of top areas: engineering, theoretical physics, material science and chemistry. Of course I'm biased being a UCSB grad.

UC Santa Barbara turns out STEM grads. These are the people who actually keep society running and improving, but they are not generally the people who go on to become the "1%".

Don't think that is quite right. There have been a number of alums who have made huge amounts of money in various tech ventures and have given generously to the UCSB foundation (multi-million $). I don't know what the comparison is with the Davis and Irvine campus alums.

I would rank Davis above SB. But of course I'm biased since I went there...

it would be better if the number of seats at the so-called elite universities could rise along with or exceed the number of qualified applicants.

but the supply of high quality elite education is behaving kind of like the supply of health care. it costs way too much and the usual supply-demand dynamics somehow fail to operate normally.

the incoming class sizes at Harvard, Princeton, etc have stayed about the same as the population has grown. what's wrong with this picture?

One presumes that Harvard, Princeton, etc. would have significant difficulty in increasing their class sizes dramatically while maintaining the quality of their education. There are sheer physical limits if nothing else.

Perhaps the better question is why peer institutions have not sprung up to claim the overflow demand. Why are there now not five Harvard-equivalent schools?

One answer worth examining -- I genuinely do not know if this is true -- is that there are such, that the second tier of colleges have upped their game and are just as good as Harvard (and the third tier have come into the second tier, etc.), but that our culture is slow to adapt and continues to regard Harvard as exceptional when it no longer is.

Another answer worth examining is that even if a second-tier school has, in fact, surpassed Harvard as a college-qua-college, this is not significant because what we're examining is Harvard's reputation, not its educational value.

A final answer worth examining is that it requires an extraordinary history to become a first-tier college, and you simply can't become one in less than decades -- even centuries.

One presumes that Harvard, Princeton, etc. would have significant difficulty in increasing their class sizes dramatically while maintaining the quality of their education.

The reason not to expand isn't the difficulty in keeping the education experience high, it's that there is no reason to expand. Just what does it gain Harvard that they don't already have?

Not to knock the elite schools, but the standards of education at the those schools is very good, but not beyond exceptional. It's not as if a B.Sc. from Harvard is more knowledgeable than a Ph.D. elsewhere. What *is* exceptional is the quality of students they admit.

Moreover, all the world loves a nice, simple metric - and Harvard/Yale admission is a pretty decent one that correlates pretty well with most of the things that many employers / politicians are looking for.

From an educational standpoint, there are actually a fair number of schools that already produce roughly equally well-educated students. But as long as Harvard/Yale are perceived as most prestigious, they will have the highest admission standards, which means that those companies that are recruiting 'the elite" will have no reason not to use the Harvard/Yale metric.

The problem is systemic. You *can't* grow multiple Harvards because nobody has the incentive to do so.

If this weren't true, then they could expand. Nobody worries that Apple or Amazon can't expand. OTOH, I do wonder if Harley-Davidson can expand limitlessly without undermining the exclusivity.

"One presumes that Harvard, Princeton, etc. would have significant difficulty in increasing their class sizes dramatically while maintaining the quality of their education."

No, it would be hard for them to keep up the quality of their _admissions_. The quality of Harvard's education has always been sketchy. In 1975 I interviewed with a Harvard alum who told me that he had taken classes from Henry Kissinger, John Kenneth Galbraith, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and David Riesman.

"Wow, they must have been great teachers," I burbled.

No, they were terrible teachers, he explained. They were always canceling class because they had to be in Washington. Undergrads meant next to nothing to them.

Or read Scott Turow's biographical book "One-L" about his first year at Harvard Law School. Turow points out numerous flaws in the "Paper Chase"-style system of teaching that could have been easily corrected, but nobody had bothered to improve them for generations because what mattered to the reputation of HLS was how smart, hard-working, and ambitious were the HLS students before they entered HLS, not what happened to them there.

Yale always impressed me the most (out of all the Ivies). Harvard the least.

Yale students from the 1980's were the biggest weenies I have ever encountered. But any school that gives its students one semester of torts is doing something other than teaching the law.

In the 90s, Yale students who I knew were into whatever it was that they are studying. Whereas Harvard students were into being from Harvard.

Harvard's reputation *is* more important than the quality of the education. We have expanded the pool of the very top elite - HYP have taken somewhat larger class sizes, and it's now HYPS, with Stanford having pretty much the same rank as Princeton, if not Harvard or Yale.

Elite colleges are in the business of prestige, which is inversely correlated to supply.

I wonder how these admissions theories/data/processes apply to Stanford, the Ivy of the West?

Exactly the same, except with better sports teams and weather.

Very good question. As the population has grown, the number of "elite", high-paying jobs should be growing commensurately, right? Like, there are far more people working at white-shoe investment banks, law firms, and management consultant firms now than in the 1960s. (To say nothing of D.C. lobbyists and other "elite" jobs.) Because employee tenure at these companies has not increased (if anything, it's decreased), this means that they are hiring far more people each year than they did decades ago. So why have their not been new elite schools to supply this demand for elite-school grads?

There are two possible answers to this:

1) These elite jobs used to account for a small percentage of the Harvard/Yale/Princeton graduating class, and the elite jobs are now taking up an increasing fraction of HYP graduating class. (This seems likely to me.)

2) The elite firms actually are hiring from many other schools. Thus you don't actually need to go to HYP to get into the elite, but people just aren't recognizing that fact. Can anyone speak to this?

I can speak to it, to some extent. My undergrad was Williams College (not to be confused with William & Mary), a school that has a certain reputation for academic rigor without the name-recognition and prestige of the top-level Ivies. Lots of people (in the late 90's, when I was there) graduated into i-banking, to a degree that it was a cliche for us. My experience since then is that despite the fact that for 90% of the people on the street, the Williams name provokes nothing more than, "Is that a four year college?" people who are hiring managers had a considerably greater chance of knowing about it and being impressed with it.

I suspect that this is not out of line with lots of schools of Williams' general ilk, and that to some degree the HYP degree is unnecessary (or perhaps super-elite, now improving your chances of getting into the top few percent of the elite jobs, if that exists).

This discussion makes me happy I'm to the point in my career where my professional accomplishments outweigh my alma mater.

The Wall Street Boom that began in 1982 has empowered the ultra-elite HYP schools because they have the best pipelines to Wall Street.

If not for Wall Street's growing control over the economy, Stanford would likely have surpassed HYP in glamor due to it being at the center of the booming high technology industry.

Depends on who's glamorizing. For many Stanford has indeed surpassed HYP, for reasons you mention.

You can look at the "yield" rates of accepted applicants to measure popularity of colleges. Harvard was well ahead of Stanford up through 2007, which was the last time I seriously checked. My impression is that Stanford, though, has done well in yield during the latest tech bubble, as one might expect. But, heck, I thought it looked great in 1975.

Very interesting article. I guess I am also uncomfortable with the counting methods in the piece. More specifically, Unz claims with references (from 1972, 1982, and 2004) in a footnote to support him that "Jewish ability tends to be exceptionally strong in its verbal component and mediocre at best in the visuospatial". This sounds fishy. Do we really know this sort of thing about any ethnic group?

If you read the literature on the subject, you would know this is widely acknowledged. Jews tend to be exceptionally strong on the verbal component while barely average on the visuospatial. Interestingly, almost all of the gradual improvement that has generated the Flynn Effect has come in the visuospatial.

I'd appreciate references to the literature which actually say this.
I looked at the latest reference supplied by Unz in the relevant footnote (57). Lynn (2004) says the sample sizes in most studies are too small, including Backman(1972), which is another reference in Unz's footnote. Lynn uses a fairly large sample size, but doesn't have evidence on visuospatial component of IQ. Lynn writes: "At present it is doubtful whether any conclusion can be reached about the intelligence of American Jews except that their verbal intelligence or, if this is preferred, their gc (crystallized intelligence) is about 107.5." (p. 205)

Correction to the immediate above comment by me. According to Lynn (2004) Backman (1972) is the only study with a large sample size, but he says that her results about secondary factors in IQ are "so variable and in some instances so low as to raise doubts about their credibility." Lynn says these results are in need of checking and replication.
Backman finds that Ashenazi Jews have relatively low spatial-visual IQ scores. Are there post-2000 studies that have replicated Backman's results?

Well, in what countries is Starcraft really big?

Countries? Are there other than South Korea?

You'll find the answers to your questions here:

"The Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence"

Gregory Cochran
Jason Hardy
Henry Harpending


Frank makes a valid point. The entire content of the passage was:
"We should also remember that Jewish intellectual performance tends to be quite skewed, being exceptionally strong in the verbal subcomponent, much lower in math, and completely mediocre in visuospatial ability."

I didn't realize that Jews were not so good at math! Regarding mediocre visuospatial ability, what is that? Poor motor skills, uncoordinated? Jews aren't known for athletic prowess. How does the article define visuospatial ability?
"the three main subcomponents of intellectual ability are verbal, mathematical, and visuospatial, with the last of these representing the mental manipulation of objects."

Hmm, seems like visuospatial ability has nothing to do with sports. Why are we completely mediocre at visuospatial ability? Does that mean we are not good at civil or structural engineering, or perhaps construction management?

More noteworthy by far is this:
"Even leaving aside the language difficulties which students from an immigrant background might face, East Asians tend to be weakest in the verbal category and strongest in the visuospatial,"

That doesn't make much sense either. What about math? East Asians are good at math. Don't try to convince me otherwise! And how is it the case that Asians are strongest at visuospatial, more so than math or verbal? I would like to understand how the superiority of Asians in visuospatial abilities manifests, in comparison to the allegedly Jewish mediocrity in the same.

Again, I don't doubt much of the study, intuitively. I even agree that it is likely that there is a disproportionate number of Jews versus Asians in good universities, and many of the other claims as well. This sort of evidence and logic, or lack thereof, to substantiate it is unconvincing, however.

I think the evidence is weak... still visual spatial ability basically = the ability to construct diagrams and schemas, which you can rotate and undergo various transformations, in order to do work.

It combines the more spatial ability to kind of know where things are and how they move (like a baseball player who knows where the ball will land and how fast everyone will run and so on) without having to "see" any of this, with the ability to represent this visually.

This ability tends to be highly correlate with math ability, which is supposedly in theory because doing math relies on using these representations to make inferences and so on.

This is pretty distinct from say the kind of visual skills that artists have that don't really involve too much in the way of spatial ability.

Those aren't very valuable for scientists and I think scientists tend to me much poorer at them than they are, say, language skills - try to get set of scientists to do literary criticism and creation vs artistic criticism and creation and you would get more success in the former domain.



Note how the scientists and science gifted kids are really poor at "object visualisation" (artistic strengths) relative to visual artists and even other humanities students (history, English, music, &c.) And how the visual artists seem weak on "spatial visualisation" (i.e. visuo-spatial skill) ability, even compared to humanities types.

This may be *very* interesting in light of the support which various human biodiversity fans claim to see in Jewish underrepresentation in the visual arts and Asian overrepresentation in the visual arts on their respective "visual-spatial" ability. The ethnicity which talks and writes vs the ethnicity which draws may be a useful prism by which to understand Ashkenazi and Chinese differences.

I suspect the Jewish shortfall comes in 3-D spatial visualization skills, but not in 2-D. Oscar nominated cinematographers are much less Jewish than their director or screenwriter peers.

Similarly, there have been very few Jewish golf course architects in history, even though there was considerable demand from Jews for restricted Jewish-only country clubs.

The paper I linked and the Object-Spatial-Verbal paradigm it works under :


suggests that the main distinction in visual-spatial abilities is between object visualisation ability - useful for the visual arts and graphic design, enriched in artists and more generally, the representation of individual objects and scenes in colour, detail and shape and object recognition - and spatial visualisation ability - useful for the natural sciences and the representation of object locations, motion, spatial relationships, manipulations and transformations.

These abilities have patterns as expected in gifted children and adult professionals. Visual artists are poor at spatial ability, strong at object ability, while scientists are the reverse, and architects are intermediate, with a leaning towards spatial strengths.

Golf course architects probably are as general architects, but with less spatial ability and possibly more object ability, as their designs seem more purely aesthetic and to involve like engineering bravura (certainly far from none).

Possibly there may be an additional dimension of 2D vs 3D ability, as you say. I think the differences would already be explained by a relative deficit of object ability in Ashkenazis (don't conceptualize detailed and colourful scenes and objects as well - they are not known for art and design really, and the kind of scenes you have to set in writing scripts and directing (before the specialists like costume and cinematography come and sort it out) are kind of relatively abstract).

Thank you, Matt, for your response and for the linked URLs (and of course, for not accusing me of being "unhinged" as a prior comment did).

Your last sentence captures the difference in aptitudes between Asian and Ashkenazi (all?) Jews, in terms of visual arts skills, of the visual-spatial variety. Empirically, that seems rather plausible. Thanks again for taking the time to help me, and aid my understanding.

That's the tax those pesky Asians will have to pay if they want to keep impeding our egalitarianist narratives.

Yet, according to polls, they support affirmative action by over 70%. They're not always victims of it. According to newly revised poverty statistics, Asians have a 30% higher poverty rate than Whites(although in absolute terms, both are still relatively low). A lot of government contracts to Asian businessmen- and women is handed out on the basis of affirmative action. If you're into public service, being Asian is a boon to be hired. The list goes on.

Second, interesting that nobody noticed that according to the Appendix that Unz provided, the best students at, say, Harvard(their admission into the Phi Beta Kappa) are actually WASPs with Asians following closely and Jews by far worst of the three.

A lot of the politics of affirmative action aren't about its actual effects so much as the symbolic question of: Whose side is the government on? Whites or nonwhites?

Tyler, I don't understand what motivated you to give a forum to this borderline anti-semitic article. With a staggering series of assumptions , anecdotes and logical leaps, the article transforms continuing Jewish overrepresentation in Universities, the concomitant erosion of Jewish dominance in a few low sample size math olympiads and the ethnic origin of college provosts to produce a caricature of some kind of conspiracy. This disavowal of that rhetoric is just half hearted. "as our liberal intellectual elites regularly emphasize, unconscious biases or shared assumptions can become a huge but unnoticed problem when decision-making occurs within a very narrow circle." Shared background= bias =mendacity. Where coordinated action, intent etc. comes into the picture is left unclear. But it doesn't matter since our liberal colleagues have the same dumb idea. By setting up anecdotal evidence as conspiracy and then informing us that life is a zero sum game run by these conspiratorial folks, the Unz plays along with classic anti-semitic anxieties. By pitting Asians and Jews against each other in some kind of ethnic war, Unz subsumes the multiethnic, multiracial nature of our polity into some kind of Hobbesian (or Somalian) war of tribe against tribe. The truth is, there is no systemic Jewish bias skewing the scales. There's no Jewish cabal reserving favored slots for other Jews. Look at intraJewish solidarity in America-- outside of Orthodoxy, its a picture of assimilation and erosion of Jewish ethnic, religious and cultural bonds in favor of wider American mores. Its laughable to think that pro-Jewish bias is the factor picked out of a hat in every (Unz admits) highly opaque case of college admissions. Essays, social activities, regional origin and color of pen used in admissions documents might all militate against Asians-- who knows? All I know is that this anti-semitic anxiety is misplaced. Jews won't be overrepresented forever-- we are veering either more Orthodox and insular or less Jewish. The demos say that continued Jewish dominance is not in the cards. You've got to have a wide enough talent pool that wants to enter the math olympiad or Harvard university in order to have some percentage of them succeed. Classic, non-observant American Jews won't have that in just a few years. At that point these remonstrations will sound like the anti-semitism you read about in Poland or Hungary. Angry tirades against a vigorous, subterranean and all but vanished minority.

tl;dr: the ear-plugging and mouth-taping will continue until morale improves.

Absurd and despicable. Pulling the antisemitism card to support ethnic favoritism on a massive and unprecedented scale.

There is an acronymic pseudonym who sometimes makes borderline antisemitic comments at Sailer's blog and others, which many suspect of being Unz, but it should be noted (and is noted in the linked article) that Unz is himself ethnically Jewish. He claimed to have received his political education from "Commentary" (published at the time by the American Jewish Committee) when he ran for governor, since then he's developed a very different attitude toward neoconservatism.

The article itself doesn't claim there is a cabal, but that they discriminate against indicators of being rural & conservative (or possibly Christian). Also the admissions officers tend to be poorly qualified and often swayed by connections.

Personally, I'd like to see more investigation into the "academic collapse" and converse Asian ascent.

There is an acronymic pseudonym who sometimes makes borderline antisemitic comments at Sailer’s blog and others, which many suspect of being Unz, but it should be noted (and is noted in the linked article) that Unz is himself ethnically Jewish.

There was an acronymic pseudonym. He seems to have nearly completely disappeared, now that Unz has his own blog. Jews being called antisemitic at the moment they say anything remotely critical of other Jews is a regular occurrence. Pay more attention. Drawing antisemitic lines is a very fine art!

I thought paranoid anti-Semitic ranters favored the One Giganto Paragraph prose style, but it turns out that it's actually the paranoid anti-anti-Semitic ranters.

"Tyler, I don’t understand what motivated you to give a forum to this borderline anti-semitic article"

That's rather far off. The substance of the article is very strong evidence of discrimination against Asians and non-Jewish whites. Read the article, if you doubt this. Also read “The Roots of White Anxiety” (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/19/opinion/19douthat.html?_r=0) for additional data points.

What article did you read and what planet are you on?

I am (or was) a Jew who went to Columbia Law. How cliche!

I'm more offended by the anti-Israel sentiment at Columbia today than any suggestion that Jews have been overrepresented in several intellectual fields and that representation is diminishing. Of course, the not-quite-as-talented-as-before Jews will find other avenues for their skills and abilities. I'm not sure that the concentration of Jews in certain professions was in our collective best interest. It's somewhat tribal.

If diversity is truly a blessing and there must be some critical mass to achieve the benefits, there simply aren't enough minorities to go around. It appears to me that diversity was never really the goal. Rather, the perception of diversity.

I am a Jew and did not notice any antisemitism in Unz's article.

"There’s no Jewish cabal reserving favored slots for other Jews."

No, but that's what the concept of "disparate impact" is all about: unconscious bias. By way of analogy, look at Hollywood. For the numbers, here's Joel Stein's 2008 L.A. Times column: "Who Runs Hollywood? C'mon ..."


Thus, Brett Ratner, say, strikes the people running movie studios as the kind of guy you hire to direct movies.There's just something about Brett that makes them feel comfortable with him. Hard to say what it is, but studio bosses and Ratner are simply on the same wavelength.

Conversely, when a Gregg Easterbrook happens to mention in his New Republic blog that Jews tend to dominate the executive ranks of the media business, he immediately gets fired from his ESPN.com gig by Michael Eisner. Or when CNN anchorman Rick Sanchez mentions that Jon Stewart is not an oppressed minority in the TV business, he gets immediately fired.

Rinse and repeat as often as necessary, and people will stop noticing patterns (and start getting mad at those who do).

"The first is that there is massive and quite unjustified bias against Asian and Asian-American students in the U.S. admissions process."

I wonder if Asian-Americans are aware of this massive bias.

they are, and they don't care, because they get bennies in other ways, like government contract set-asides. plus, it's fun for the whole family to cripple the political power of the weird white majority in the nation of their adoption!

Net net, Asian Americans are very much hurt by a racial spoils system.

I'm confused by what the "bias against Asian-Americans" actually means: Are Whites admitted to colleges systematically at scores at which citizen Asian-Americans cannot get in into the same college? How does this discrimination formally work?

Read the article.

"Are Whites admitted to colleges systematically at scores at which citizen Asian-Americans cannot get in into the same college?"


According to the article, yes - if they're Jewish. If they're non-Jewish whites, no.

Back in the late '80s and early '90s, UC Berkeley was discriminating against Asian undergrad applicants, by requiring them to meet a certain minimum SAT-Verbal score which was not required of White applicants. The cutoff wasn't that high, but it definitely impacted Asian's chances, as many were not fully fluent in English, and thus scored poorly on the SAT-verbal, while scoring very highly on the SAT-Math.

There was eventually a settlement where UC denied it was doing it, and promised to never do it again.

Despite the polemical tone, this was a remarkably well done study. Surprising, too. I'm certainly part of the HYP admission apparatus; I know that it is intentionally vague and indirect. Alumni play a substantial role in the process in part to create a sort of diversity that is uncommon at other institutions - that thing called the 'hook' is the sort of high achievement not readily tested, except in the competitions which the author wisely cites, like the STS and Putnam. I would normally argue that Asian applicants share a certain tiresome interest in the violin and piano, less so the bassoon or MOOG synthesizers, and that this represents a disadvantage when posing that critical 'hook' for admission. However, if they are so thoroughly dominant in other areas than music, where hooks are also found, like the STS, then something else must be at issue. I'm not 'in the office' in any sense, so I don't see the sorts of shenanigans that are cited at Wesleyan.

Personally, I think the sort of advert purchase of admission that is cited early in the piece as corruption is a minor componant of the system - it happens, sure, but I don't necessarily condemn legacy admissions or 'well-funded' admissions, because HYP also serve as a mixing pot for entrepreneurial minds and entrepreneurial wallets. One can think of it from either side: legacy admits are almost a kind of facility, like a gym or research lab, for the other students; or alternatively, the legacies buy access to the high performers, or even more, association with them - so that there is perhaps at least reasonable doubt that a wealthy scion is also intelligent, well trained, etc. The legacy associations even provide a draw for faculty and other donors. Practically, these processes fund the schools, but also make them the elite institutions they are, world class, not merely national leaders.
Real-politik, perhaps, but the number of such admissions is relatively low (there just aren't that many billionaire scions in the world).

The liberal/secularist bias is certainly substantial, but I find it amazing that it leads to such a racial signature. Anecdotally, it is interesting that a significant number of Koreans and Chinese-Americans on campus are members of evangelical Christian student organizations. This is perhaps part of my personal blindspot; being more conservative than many, I don't see that bias in my own interviews, and I don't witness the interviews done by others.

The problem is that the "hook" and other holistic requirements were the same sort of things used to discriminate against Jews. The magnitude of the bias and the remarkably stable percentages of Asian admits and enrollees in the face of massively increasing numbers are incredibly suspicious. I find it hard to believe that it is coincidence.

Dear BenK:

Thanks for an inside view.

I would point out that Harvard-Yale-Princeton's admissions policies have proved vastly successful and keeping their brand names prestigious.

Let's look at the number of HYP degrees, undergrad and professional, held by the Republican and Democrat presidential candidates:

1992: 2
1996: 1
2000: 3
2004: 3
2008: 1
2012: 3


If your goal is to keep the number of Asian admissions below a quota, anything that Asians disproportionately do is automatically tiresome.

Unz was a big Prop. 209 backer, though he doesn't mention it in the article. He avoided the political discussion entirely, which is reasonable.

The Asian-American vote for Republicans was much higher when Republicans were running against affirmative action and sponsoring things like Prop. 209. Not sure if there's anything causal about that, though.

Ron won 34% of the vote in the 1994 California gubernatorial primary running against incumbent Pete Wilson, who went on to be re-elected.

I'm still amazed by that number.

If Harvard decided to openly sell, say, 10% of seats to the highest bidder; would that be illegal or even unethical? In a capitalist society where money can buy you the best of most things why should private-university-education be an exception?

I like Rahul's comment, and would go further. I'm quite troubled that nobody is questioning some of the underlying assumptions of Utz's piece: namely, that "we" as a country are well served spending a time pondering reforms for Ivy League undergraduate admissions. I was a (Jewish) national merit semi-finalist with all A's in AP classes who got rejected from the Ivies I applied to, and I found the experience quite devastating at the time; in retrospect, I don't regret it at all, and in fact am certain that I got a better education where I ended up than I would have at those schools.

Instead of pretending that Harvard is dying for our admissions suggestions, "we" should be valorizing super-elite schools far less than we do, paying attention to what people actually learn and do during their college years, and looking for ways of ensuring that meritorious people of all ethnicities put their talents to good use after they graduate, rather than implicitly endorsing the idea that going to Harvard is the greatest single thing that can ever happen to anybody. (Utz acknowledges this point at the end of the piece, but the overwhelming impression the work leaves is that it is natural and obvious that everyone should envy those who are granted undergraduate admission to an Ivy--people like Utz.)

(Also, the end of the article is just complete BS.)

Agreed 100%

And to go further, we (or rather corporate HR people) should start to account for these biases in hiring decisions. It should be clear that many better qualified Asians without Ivy degrees would be better hires than many Ivy degree holders. In other words, smart companies will downgrade the Ivy signal.

I imagine it like taking Google's very intense hiring process throughout corporate America. Just having a Harvard degree isn't worth much in Google interviews. And not having one is no matter if you can run that gauntlet.

If one's alma mater didn't make such a huge difference in one's employment options, it wouldn't matter whether Ivy schools were meritocratic or not. But it does, so it does.

I still see no compelling legal nor ethical arguments requiring an essentially private organization to embrace meritocracy. Whether it makes an impact on employment options seems tangential.

It's unethical for Harvard or Yale to present itself to the world as much more of a meritocracy than it is.

Utz is the remarkably good for the price potato chip; Unz is the guy you mean. Also, there are no super-elite schools in the United States (unlike, say, France and China), just schools with sub-sections with super-charged access to various fields of endeavor. HYP provide an order of magnitude more of those subsections than other schools, but do no better than average return on IQ for their alums in a bunch of (so far) non-ivy-coterie-dominated fields - 3 I kow about are pentagon bigshots, pocket-protector-CEOs, and internet blowhards; Number one ROTC dude at HY will not get farther in the army than number 20 West Point dude, with the same effort (absent non-collegiate connections); engineering background CEOs usually come from a different set of schools than HYP; my favorite (i.e., the objectively best) "non-economics" bloggers are exclusively non-HYP

"I’m quite troubled that nobody is questioning some of the underlying assumptions of Utz’s piece: namely, that “we” as a country are well served spending a time pondering reforms for Ivy League undergraduate admissions."

Ivy League admissions are, objectively, a big deal. They influence, for example, the demographic makeup of Wall Street, which is another big deal that nobody talks about.

Personally, I'm in favor of knowing the numbers. I realize that's not a popular position these days, but I think, like Faber College in Animal House, that "Knowledge is good."

It is widely believed that donating money can help get you into various schools. It is illegal to call such a payment a donation, which is tax-deductible, rather than a fee for service, which is not.

Schools are not just non-profits but "public charities" which have many privileges and responsibilities that distinguish them from private clubs. I doubt that auctioning off 10% of the seats is illegal, though.

I was told that the "Harvard number" is $5 million: that's what it takes to move your kid from "Waiting List" to "Accepted." The man who told me this said, "Damn hedge fund guys are ruining things for everybody."

I have no way of checking out if this is true.

"If Harvard decided to openly sell, say, 10% of seats to the highest bidder; would that be illegal or even unethical?"

Why say 10%? Why not follow your ideas to their logical conclusion and say 100%?

Yes, but is either of them, selling off 10% or 100% of the seats, illegal? If it isn't then Unz's corruption allegation is a bit misplaced.

Steve, you are right about the "Harvard Number" because I was told the same exact number from a person who works at Harvard.

Doesn't matter if it would be legal or ethical - it would damage the brand severely. Most parents don't want their children going to school with Paris Hilton, the Kardashians or Donald Trump's kids. The Ivies need to screen out rich people with "no class" in order to maintain their appeal.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews are becoming a larger and larger share of American Jews. They are unlikely to attend secular universities. If you controlled for that and studied just "non-Ultra-Orthodox Jews" I wonder if you wouldn't get a different result.

Then wouldn't the proportion of enrollment of non-Ultra Orthodox Jews in Ivy League school compred to their proportion in the overall population be even more skewed?

Anybody have any statistics on this?

Jewish writers these days don't seem to be as good as they used to (think of Jonathan Safran Foer or Michael Chabon v. Saul Bellow or Philip Roth), but then again writers in general don't seem to be as good as they used to.

people in general in all ethnic groups and all elite and leadership fields just seem less qualified than they used to. The only advances since about 1850 seem to be in elite extreme-focused tasks (I.e.,Andrew Wiles and his unitary 7 year task, not Leonhard Euler inventing and reinventing multiple fields in the same time frame), in keeping hoi polloi free of intellect-draining parasites and nutrient deficiencies, and in wider understanding of symmetrical objects (due to the spread of manufactured goods) and of testable analogies (due to the endless analogies foisted on followers by advertisers and demagogues). I'd like to see a few hundred recent Ivy grads do anyting remotely like a new Apollo program, or even the OED, but I won't because of this inexplicable downward trend.
Of course, as I am in this downward trend myself, I could be reading it all wrong ...

"and in wider understanding of symmetrical objects (due to the spread of manufactured goods)"

That's a fun explanation for the Flynn Effect. I like it.

We get to identify the best older writes with much more knowledge than good current authors.

And there's also Jonathan Lethem.

"For example, our national newspapers have revealed that students of part-Asian background have regularly attempted to conceal the non-white side of their ancestry when applying to Harvard and other elite universities out of concern it would greatly reduce their chances of admission."

Yep. Half Asian and intentionally chose to conceal that on all applications I submitted to MIT, Princeton, etc.

Meanwhile, Khoo Teck Puat bought his daughter (who went to the same school as I) a spot at Brown with a $2m donation, about a million dollars per grade point she had in her average.

"Half Asian and intentionally chose to conceal that on all applications I submitted to MIT, Princeton, etc. "

Did it work for you?

I went to a prestigious school of the caliber described in the article, but as to what part it played in the admissions decision as opposed to the relative quality of my grades, my application, my interviews, my socioeconomic circumstances, what I did in my spare time... as Unz says, the application process is opaque enough that I ultimately cannot isolate that factor.

All that I do know is that at the time, my mother (maiden name Wang, if that tells you anything) and all of the other Taiwanese parents had enough evidence to convince me.

Being white is the same as being Asian when applying to MIT and probably Princeton, too. Mentioning it or not would not change anything.

Companies should cut out the middleman and hire people based on standardized test scores.

Cue the hue and cry over cram schools teaching to a test...

They literally cannot do this, because of disparate impact (i.e., not many black people will be hired). The assumption behind the disparate-impact = discrimination rule, of course, is that humans of different racial groups are interchangeable (are equally likely to have a certain level of IQ or time preference). Thus, any disparate outcome means the test is biased. This assumption is false, and thus the entire edifice of modern discrimination lawsuits is built on sand. But don't tell anyone I said that.

There is a plausible case to be made that the entire "college bubble" in modern America is caused by companies getting around the disparate-impact farce by outsourcing the first round of their hiring process to colleges. What they really want are good people, not the actual stuff you learned in your Harvard classes. Let the colleges deal with racial quotas and affirmative action and disparate-impact lawsuits and all that bullshit.

I think you exaggerate. Aren't you forgetting the "business necessity" defense?

If I hire rocket scientists using an propulsion-systems test-set I do not have to show I have Blacks representative of the population average.

Actually, you do, if you're doing military or government contracting. You just have to staff up your non-tech depts with enough employees from "privileged classes" to balance out the white and Asian-dominated tech departments.

I learned basically nothing in my Harvard Law classes, though I did hear about disparate impact a couple times.

If you're hiring police or firemen, you definitely can't. But if you're the military, or you're hiring computer programmers, you will not be legally challenged if you use standardized tests. And yet, employers who do incorporate cognitive or ability testing also overwhelmingly use education as well - not because they couldn't get away with not doing it, but because they believe education conveys additional information. In other countries without the legal concept of disparate impact, employers also rely on education as a sorting mechanism for applications.

I doubt you could get away with it with computer programmers.

Just give them programming tests. Many employers already do. They're job-related in ways that are obvious to everyone.

Okay, so... you can't give them IQ tests. Got it.

The big employment lawsuits related to disparate impact have not been over IQ tests, they've been over g-loaded, content-related tests used for hiring in the public sector. There are tests given by tech companies that are significantly more like IQ tests than those tests are. No one cares.

Because the Supreme Court said no,


As I understand it, if an employer can show the business necessity of such an SAT-like test for applicants, it would be okay.

I've never had a job where my SAT, ACT or LSAT scores felt particularly relevant to the work I did. However, I suppose that my diplomas, which were obtained in part because of my standardized test scores, signal potential employers that I might be smart and not a lazy toad.

If you've held jobs where IQ matters, even a little, then standardized test scores are/were very much relevant--as they correlate well with IQ (.82 for SATs, for instance).

Headhunters will still ask for SAT scores for candidates that have been out of college for years, much less high school.

Most valuable people at a law firm are people who can get and keep clients. They are not necessarily the smartest people in the firm. Also, an SAT score is not necessarily related to how hard one is willing to work. Is being smart helpful? Sure. But that IQ score doesn't mean shit in most jobs if you won't work hard or you can't talk to someone for 10 minutes.

No doubt, but more IQ is always better--especially at more junior positions, where the analytical work is actually being done. The client retention and salesmanship aspects matter more for more senior roles.

As an aside, national verbal IQ is better associated with GDP than overall IQ, if I recall correctly.

The one trait there ought to be a standardized test for is "resistance to boredom" . Is there a test for that?

In several different jobs I've noticed that this is one very important yet often hard to assess trait.

MD, IQ is not perfect but it is the #1 correlator with job performance, way over interview results, academic credentials, and the like.

"As an aside, national verbal IQ is better associated with GDP than overall IQ, if I recall correctly."

Huh. The SAT said I was in the 99th percentile in the verbal section. I think this means that American owes me a thank you card.

If you think it means that it's a wonder you scored so high on verbal testing. Or perhaps it means your not so hot logic IQ is properly assessed. ;-)

msgkings, if you keep insulting me, I'll move to Costa Rica. Then you'll be sorry! (Note: Costa Rica will need to change its name to the Rich Coast Republic, as I do not speak Spanish.)

You can room with Rush Limbaugh, who said that's where he's moving if Obama got re-elected. He'll hook you up with some sweet Oxy-fueled teenage orgies.

Has ANY famous person who declares they are moving abroad depending on an election outcome ever followed through? Liberal or conservative?


Same, actually. Looks like the US has our penchant for analogies and sentence completion to thank for its relative prosperity.

That case is such steaming bullshit, and someday when they write the obituary of the United States, that case will be considered one of key early causes of its decline.

It is immediately obvious, if you ever have a conversation with somebody with an 85 IQ vs. somebody with 105 IQ, why a company might want the latter, even if they can't write out a bulletproof legal case for why they need the higher IQ.

I've wondered about that. Might there be some low-end jobs that a low IQ person might do way better? Something needing long hours and maybe deadly boring or repeative?

Are there any studies correlating, say, good janitors with IQ?

Huxley (1932), I believe, shows something along those lines.

Roof! Oh, roof! ... Roof?

it makes intuitive sense that very boring and repetitive jobs might be better done by dumber people than by smarter people who would feel unchallenged by such work and be moved more to distraction, thus affecting their overall productivity, but from the studies i've read looking into the matter, it appears there is not a dull task offered by the modern economy that a high IQ person won't do better at, and better at longer, than a low IQ person.

sorta depressing, when you think about it.

All of the studies I have read say that higher IQ employees outperform lower IQ employees in even mundane jobs.

I understand why you used the janitor example, but the job varies. During a summer job I worked with a janitor and he was responsible for a school building worth $50 million. If he used the wrong cleaning product on the gym floor, that could be a $100,000 mistake. His job required smarts.

All I know is, Matt Damon was a horrible janitor.

Duke Power instituted IQ tests the day after Title VII of the Civil Rights Act became effective. I am not sure that the supreme court could have ruled any other way without putting the seal of approval on bullshit southern tactics to get around Title VII in the same way that the grandfather clause was used to get around the 15th amendment.

The "grandfather clause" is an exemption from an exclusionary filter, with said filter later being deemed incompatible with the constitution. Without the "grandfather clause" you could just have poll taxes & literacy tests which apply to every racial group. The term "grandfathering" is also used to describe regulations/legislation which exempts incumbents, making a mockery of any pretense of serving the general public rather than providing rents.

Who wants to start "2000 SAT University"? We aren't accredited and give you a diploma if you got a 2000 on the modern (3-part) SAT.

We might have to change the name. In honor of the case JWatts mentioned, I recommend "Duke."

From the wikipedia summary, it does seem that the IQ requirement was actually just an attempt to backdoor a racial bias.

Griggs v. Duke Power matters a huge amount in some industries and very little in others, perhaps depending upon donations to the Democratic Party.

For example, being a New York City fireman and being a Hollywood set worker are fairly comparable elite blue collar jobs. The Bush Administration sued the FDNY in 2007 for disparate impact discrimination (for daring to use a hiring exam that asked technical questions about firefighting), while Hollywood technicians are overwhelmingly white in a region that is majority minority.

"while Hollywood technicians are overwhelmingly white in a region that is majority minority"

Very true. Members of my family have done blue collar work in Hollywood and that is exactly what I heard.

The Federal government used to do this with the civil service test and it worked great. Then disparate impact happened...

To be a little fair to the companies that look for HYP grads, they're not necessarily looking to maximize technical competence. At the highest end, it's all pretty much a wash. It's all the social/extra-curricular factors that get one admitted to HYP that make those candidates interesting as leadership, etc. material. Well, that and hiring HYP graduates says something very important to the customer base about status, and let's be honest, in many fields, status is far more important than trivial differences in technical ability.

Companies that are simply looking for technical expertise instead of the "right over-all super achiever" aren't usually the ones obsessed with HYP.

Thats a crime.

the article starts with this premise: "the funnel of opportunity in American society has drastically narrowed, with a greater and greater proportion of our financial, media, business, and political elites being drawn from a relatively small number of our leading universities, together with their professional schools."

I really would like to know when the fabulous age of true American meritocracy was, when the elites of society weren't culled from the 'leading universities?' Just mentioning Henry Ford as an example of lost American meritocracy is useless as Ford was an outlier, not the norm.

I didn't get to the rest of the article, no point in reading something that begins and rests upon a ridiculously false premise. Then there is the fact American Conservative is the brain child of Pat Buchanan, a virulent anti-Semite, and the comments here make me wonder if every article in American Conservative somehow must include some type of caricature about Jews to be printed. All in all, not worth my time.

It is very much worth your time and says nothing bad about Jews. They just appear to be grossly over-represented in elite institutions of higher education.

Throughout much of American history, the "elite" came from less Ivy and tended to have much more diverse backgrounds. All you have to do is look at the background of American Presidents: starting with "the first" George Bush, all Presidential candidates (including winners and losers) have gone to Harvard or Yale, with the exception of Dole (U of Kansas) and McCain (Naval Academy). The last election not involving someone from either Harvard or Yale at the top of a major party ticket was Reagan/Mondale in 1984.

Before this time, Harvard or Yale Presidents were actually rather rare; before the first Bush, the last Presidential candidate from either Harvard or Yale was JFK in 1960.

ford went to yale law

Ford was never elected.

But he was a Presidential candidate in 1976

"I really would like to know when the fabulous age of true American meritocracy was"

Middle of the 20th Century, including post-Sputnik. The World Wars and the Cold War required a national mobilization of talent, which was made more feasible by the invention of IQ testing.

But now, we've defeated all our rivals for military supremacy, so we are decaying into infighting among families and groups for power, prestige, and wealth. Ibn Battuta described the process in North Africa 700 years ago, and it applies to America as well.

You mean ibn Khaldun. Ibn Battuta was a traveller, not a historian.

Right, thanks!

"American Conservative is the brain child of Pat Buchanan, a virulent anti-Semite, and the comments here make me wonder if every article in American Conservative somehow must include some type of caricature about Jews to be printed."

LMGIFY (Let Me Google It For You)

Amcon is published by Run Unz.

"The notion of a wealthy family buying their son his entrance into the Grandes Ecoles of France or the top Japanese universities would be an absurdity, and the academic rectitude of Europe’s Nordic or Germanic nations is even more severe"

Unz conveniently forgets that most of those other schools are publicly funded whereas Harvard and the rest of the Ivy League is mostly private? Shouldn't that be a major point differentiating in what ways they can or cannot discriminate during admissions?

Funny thing Rahul: How many people would make your point about private funding if HYP discriminated against Jews and Blacks? I seriously doubt that we would see many of its current supporters remaining silent.

As Hayek noted, Lenin said the crucial question is always "Who? Whom?"

I also think Unz is wrong to assume that admission to the Grandes Ecoles is purely merit-based. Money may not get you in, but I think political influence does play a part.

Would like to hear from an actual French person about this.

Admission is based on test results only. Of course, though, some might have a more stimulating environment to prepare for the tests.

I find it interesting that he used Japan, the nation that brought the "cram school" to the world. More than a few of their elite universities also run kindergartens, primary and secondary schools allowing those rich enough to pay for the first 12 years of education to bypass entrance exams and go directly to university. Then there's the German system where, if you don't test you way into gymnasium in middle school, your only option is a trade school. I wonder what percentage of the top quintile's children don't make it into gymnasium?

Haven't gotten through the whole article yet, but another interesting suggestive statistic about Asian American admissions is the discrepancies in application and registration decisions by race at the UC. Asians are significantly more likely (than the population average for those eligible to apply within California) to apply to the UC if they meet admissions criterion, whites are significantly less likely. When it comes to accepting, among those admitted (admissions only vary a percent or two from complete neutrality), whites are significantly less likely to register if accepted, while Asians are significantly more likely to register if accepted.

The stats I looked at for this are from a single year at UC Berkeley (2007). I'd wager they are pretty representative for both Cal and UCLA, the closest competitors to the Ivy League within the system.

The deviation from the average among Asian students for registration suggests (to me, at least) that they have fewer competitive alternatives than other students when deciding where to go.

I know lots of Tiger Moms and Dads, and while they are definitely ambitious for their children, they also like a good deal. They work much harder to get their children into good public education with free or subsidized tuition, while whites of comparable income just assume that they'll have to pay exorbitant private tuitions.

I considered that (along with the thought that the relevant white families may have a more extensive knowledge of the overall college system, and thus a deeper application process), but I doubt any cultural explanation can account for the entirety of the fact that, for example, in 2007 Asian students were 23% more likely than the population average to register if admitted, while white students where 18% less likely to register if admitted.

It's similar to how immigrants from East Asia are more likely than white people to finagle their parents into a decent public housing project for the elderly. I used to live right next to a 20+ story public housing project for the elderly in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood, and it was mostly Vietnamese and other Asian immigrants. Few of the residents spoke English, so I doubt if they had paid much taxes in America during their working years. But that kind of question of fairness is not one that frequently troubles East Asian immigrants. If the taxpayers in America want to offer free stuff for the parents or children of foreigners, the immigrants will figure out a way to take it.

I thought the biggest take away was that Ivy League colleges are now 25% Jewish while only 22% non-Jewish white, despite Jews performing only slightly better than non-Jewish whites on SATs and despite there being 40 times more college age non-Jewish whites than college age Jews. I have no idea whether Unz's counting methods are accurate or not, but if they are, it's hard not to wonder if non-Jewish whites are being massively discriminated against in Ivy league admissions (above and beyond mere affirmative action).

It wouldn't require a "conspiracy" for this to happen, just garden-variety prejudice mixed with nepotism.

"Garden-variety prejudice mixed with nepotism" are what "disparate discrimination" lawsuits are supposed to root out and abolish.

Shhhh. Jews want us to believe that they achieved these things by merit or happenstance. Don't acknowledge ethnic favoritism and ethnic networking.

No job market candidate studying this?

The data from the National Merit Scholarship (NMS) semifinalists is most persuasive to me. It is a big data set roughly the size of Ivy admissions. My guess is that is that the ivys are trying to keep the percentage of Asians low which leads them to emphasize SAT scores less as Asians do better and better on the SAT.

But how does that explain the low % of non-Jewish whites to Jewish whites at ivys?

Tyler writes:

"For reasons which are possibly irrational on my end, but perhaps not totally irrational, I am not entirely comfortable with the religious and ethnic and racial “counting” methods applied in this piece (blame me for mood affiliation if you wish). Still, it is an interesting read and after some internal debate I thought I would pass it along, albeit with caveats."

I'd like to hear more from Tyler about why he had to struggle with his comfort level. After all, he is in a quantitative field, and vast amounts of quantitative analyses are published annually based on data collected about race, ethnicity, and gender. On the other hand, almost nothing quantitative is published in the mainstream about arguably the most influential ethnic and/or religious group in 21st Century America.

On the other other hand, Jewish publications and organizations keep close tabs on measures of Jewish accomplishment. For example, the Jewish Telegraph Agency estimated in 2009 that about 35% of the Forbes 400 were Jewish.

Similarly, in the 1995 book "Jews and the New American Scene," the prominent social scientist Seymour Martin Lipset, a Senior Scholar of the Wilstein Institute for Jewish Policy Studies, and Earl Raab, Director of the Perlmutter Institute for Jewish Advocacy at Brandeis University, pointed out

"During the last three decades, Jews have made up 50% of the top two hundred intellectuals, 40 percent of American Nobel Prize Winners in science and economics, 20 percent of professors at the leading universities, 21 percent of high level civil servants, 40 percent of partners in the leading law firms in New York and Washington, 26% of the reporters, editors, and executives of the major print and broadcast media, 59 percent of the directors, writers, and producers of the fifty top-grossing motion pictures from 1965 to 1982, and 58 percent of directors, writers, and producers in two or more primetime television series." [pp 26-27]

Finally, would Tyler have linked to Unz's article about Jewish achievement if Unz wasn't Jewish?

The article covers plenty of ground, but I took away two main points. The first is that there is massive and quite unjustified bias against Asian and Asian-American students in the U.S. admissions process. Yes, I already thought that but it turns out it is much worse than I had thought.

If you read the article carefully, you would've noticed that there is an ever more massive and unjustified bias against white gentiles applicants.

Hey, get used to your new market-dominant minority.
Awesome thing is, we still get some Affirmative Action even though we've got 30 IQ points on the competition. Seriously. Google and Apple count us in their "Diversity" metrics.
It's not my fault my people are genetically smarter.
A lot of people are suffering in Obama's Great Recession. But you know what? Nobody in my family is. Turns out reading above an 8th grade level and being able to do basic algrebra makes you more employable than large and growing American underclass.

Not even close to 30 points.

"even though we’ve got 30 IQ points on the competition."

It's nowhere near that large. Only like 5-10 points. And once you're at the Google/Apple level, you're already way out into the upper tail of the Bell Curve -- you're not competing against the average White or Black or Hispanic applicant at all.

It's Ok to be racist - when you're Asian!

Yeah, I always feel like you shouldn't say these kinds of things in English. Say it in Korean or Japanese. Or Chinese (only I can't understand Chinese).

Ah, hubris- the first sign of incipient decadence.

Asians are hungrier than whites and work harder- that's why they score better.

500 years ago, Chna was on top of the world, until they got fat, dumb, and happy.

Any account of brilliant Asians should come to grips with how the majority of inhabitants of these genius countries live lives of squalor. And also how they spent the last several centuries under the thumb of dumb whitey.

Does anybody know about his insinuation that, hypothetically, say the grandchild of Xi Jinping couldn't get into Beijing University. It's seems plausible. If there's any aspect of Chinese society that isn't subject to nepotism and corruption, I'd expect it to be university admissions.

LOL At your naivite. It's well-known that test scores are available for $.

I found that interesting as well. My guess is as follows: Gaokao scores are very easy to obtain (they publish high-scorers in the paper, etc.), and it could cause some controversy in China if there were data on Taizidang members getting in to Beida or Qinghua with very low Gaokao scores. Harvard does a much better job of hiding the poor qualifications of well-connected people it wishes to admit, and has even higher social prestige in China than top Chinese universities do. I know several elite Chinese who are relatively dumb that got into Harvard, Duke, Stanford, Columbia, etc., but none at Qinghua or Beida.

One potential issue: national merit is based on state you live in- a score of X might make you a finalist in Texas but you could need X + Y in order to be finalist in another state. My understanding is that Ca and NY are the two states requring the highest score, and apparently also have the most Jews. I'd also guess that Asians might be most populous in those states but as for the non-Jewish whites, maybe not as much of an issue.

Good point.

Another question is the effects of test prep for the PSAT, which is where National Merit Scholar semifinalists are chosen. A friend who is in the test prep business in Silicon Valley says the Asian kids test prep like crazy for the PSAT and the white kids don't. They think of test prep as taking the PSAT to get them warmed up for the SAT.

Here are the cutoffs:


California and New York are close to the highest cutoff, but the District of Columbia is higher.

Unz's article does break down the percentages by state for non-Jew White, Asian, and Jew. The percentages for California versus new york are radically different.

The article's obsession with Nat Merit Semi-Finalists and the emphasis on the difficulty of getting it in California and NY has given me a brief moment of being quite full of myself. Total fuck up during my first 2 years of high school, but boy did I test well, sans prep.

Anyways, enough of being a braggart, as years later I'm mostly back to being a fuck up.

According to Unz - "Based on the overall distribution of America’s population, it appears that approximately 65–70 percent of America’s highest ability students are non-Jewish whites, well over ten times the Jewish total of under 6 percent."

In other words, there is more and greater unjustified bias against against non-Jewish whites than there is against Asians.

There's actually nothing new about this finding - other studies have found the same thing. Or perhaps Unz is just citing those studies.

Doesn't the article imply a testable prediction that white gentile students admitted to HYP should have materially higher average SAT's than white Jewish students (similar to the white v. Asian-American SAT gap)? Is there any evidence whatsoever (anecdotal, inferential, whatever - don't just tell me that that's not how the data is officially kept so there's no way to make a defensible educated guess) that that's actually the case? Because as noted above the PSAT-score cutoff to be a semifinalist materially varies from state to state and the states have different demographics, I don't think that necessarily gets you there.

Yes, it does.

Does what?


Or get you there?

I agree that it implies a testable prediction. If white non-Jewish SATs are not above Jewish SATs at Harvard then Unz is full of shit.

Not necessarily. It could be that the few white gentiles they admit are disproportionately for football or major, major donors, bringing down the gentile average. It's a small school, after all.

Or it could be that some groups test prep successfully more than others, so that SAT scores aren't as good a predictor of college GPA for them as for others. The Ivies seem to feel this way about Asians. Perhaps blue state whites have gotten on the test prep train too?

Look at the schools that take race into consideration when doing admissions (like Yale, Princeton, Harvard) and look at the schools that stopped doing that (like UC Berkeley), and the fact is clear, when race is taken into consideration Asians are horribly discriminated against. All other races benefit at their expense. In terms of total people, by far the biggest beneficiary of the discrimination against Asians are non-Jewish white people.

That's sort of the funny thing about white people complaining about race-based admissions. They benefit more than anyone! Get rid of it and less white people are accepted (as are less blacks, hispanics, etc.) In schools like Berkeley, when it's purely merit, the incoming classes tend to be something like 40% Asian.

Ignoring the fact that California (except for Hawaii) has by far the largest percentage of Asians.

Even today, the percentage of California's college-age population which is Asian is nowhere near 40%.

San Francisco's population is one-third Asian, probably higher among school children. The academic magnet school, Lowell High, has court-ordered ethnicity quotas: students of Chinese descent may be no more than 45% of the school population.

At Berkeley, Asian Americans made up 33% of those eligible to apply from the incoming high school class, but 50% of those who register if admitted, in 2007. This is entirely due to increased rejections by students among Whites (going off to some SLAC, I'm sure), and increased acceptances by students among Asians (denied admission to some Ivy, I'd wager).

If East Asians are so smart and hard working then why can't they make their own school in East Asia? Why are they here living off the successes of us dumb white people? East Asians simply can't achieve great things without white help.

If I wanted to live in a society ruled by East Asians I'd move to East Asia. I don't want that. So I see no point in why institutions built by white people are filled with East Asians. If East Asians are as great as they think they are then they can achieve on their own in their own countries.

East Asians overperform on tests. Another thing to look at is East Asians cheat on taxes. It's largely white people paying taxes to support these institutions. White people are being disenfranchised in college admissions.

People often overplay the "racist" card, but you are in fact a racist moron.

You can't respond because you know what I wrote is true so you throw out you're a racist to try to get me to shut up. I might not write it in a delicate manner but it's true.

I'm not trying to shut you up. Keep talking. Your stupidity and racism will only evince itself more.

dirk, reality is racist.

Following that line of reasoning; Why didn't white people farm their own old world land instead of sailing across the bathtub to leach off native American land?

this is a great point. white americans really owe everything to the infrastructure built by the noble red man.

Time to call the kettle black. What's your point? Indigenous American people didn't build much infrastructure, not in North America. Yet they lived quite well off their land, as Rahul mentioned. There was cultural diversity, many distinct tribes, and sufficient resources to sustain population levels indefinitely. Nomadic people aren't inherently worse off. They were only worse off after their society and ecosystem was trampled and abused by the arrivals from the Old World. Rahul said that white people sailed to the New World in order to leach off native American land. That seems like an accurate assessment to me. Europeans used the land, and built infrastructure. Yet it wasn't the case that native American people were unable to survive without the benefit of that infrastructure. They had done quite nicely without it for centuries.

Don't say "lady, you sound unhinged" to me. I obviously have a name, which I use here, and I am not "unhinged".

Look at the schools that take race into consideration when doing admissions (like Yale, Princeton, Harvard) and look at the schools that stopped doing that (like UC Berkeley), and the fact is clear, when race is taken into consideration Asians are horribly discriminated against. All other races benefit at their expense. In terms of total people, by far the biggest beneficiary of the discrimination against Asians are non-Jewish white people.

1. Berkeley surreptitiously takes race into account.
2. You didn't read the article. One of the central points of the article is that non-Jewish Whites are the ones who are the most underrepresented compared to their "merit" as you term it. Non-Jewish Whites are the biggest victims of discrimination in college admissions.

Berkeley definitely finds ways to discriminate against Asians, but when Prop 209 passed, the shock to the system was so large that they had at least one year with basically purely merit-based admissions before they figured out new ways to game the system.

This sort of line rather quickly naturalizes test scores and gpa as the *real* measure of true merit. That's certainly a sort of folk, common sense measure of "merit," but I'm not sure why it should be taken as the, true, underlying indicator of merit. "Merit" is a big old socially constructed artifact. "Test scores" don't necessarily get at some sort of natural baseline.

I agree with both of you.

"All other races benefit at their expense. In terms of total people, by far the biggest beneficiary of the discrimination against Asians are non-Jewish white people."

Actually, Unz found that white gentiles have paid the biggest price for the huge increase in Asian and Hispanic students at the most elite universities.

Further, it's pretty odd that the people who built the universities in the first place have let their children and grandchildren be aced out in favor of people who were in Taipei, Beijing, or Seoul until 20 or 30 years ago. Asians are huge beneficiaries of whites letting the country created mostly by their forefathers, complete with its social capital like higher ed institutions, be turned over to the world.

Could it not be that at least some of those white people are complaining simply because they hate racism, period, regardless of whether they happen to be in the group being discriminated for or against? Would it still be funny in those instances? I think your "total people" metric, though perhaps true, is misleading. The biggest beneficiary would be whichever group has the highest admissions to performance ratio (and this might still be non Jewish whites, but that is totally beside the point). Say you have two groups. Group a has 1 million people in it, and group b has 10,000. Say group a is benefitting by having five percent of its total being admitted that otherwise would not be, that is 50,000 extra students admitted. And say group b is benefitting by having 20 percent of its total being admitted that otherwise would not be, or 2,000. Clearly, the larger group has more beneficiaries, but the smaller group would be the bigger beneficiary.

It's actually morally okay for white gentiles to complain about being discriminated against simply because it's bad for white gentiles. Everybody else in the world complains when they are treated unfairly, so why shouldn't white gentiles complain without having to make up an elaborate case about why injustice towards themselves is really, when you stop to think about it, bad for everybody.

Granted, white people tend to make up most of the people in the world who really do believe in fairness and equal treatment and find self-interested identity politics arguments least appealing. But, everybody else engages in identity politics, so one of the effects of multiculturalism is to teach whites, over and over, that they have to play the identity politics game too.

Everybody else in the world complains when they are treated unfairly, so why shouldn’t white gentiles complain

The catch is that white people as a whole are, for lack of a better word, the winners.

Yes, of course, not every single white person does better than every single person of color, but let's face it, as a race, we have it better than anyone else on the globe. Or, as John Scalzi put it, Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is

Personally, I crystallize my unearned advantage as follows: if we gave everybody in the world to opportunity to re-incarnate as whatever race they wanted, is there any question that there'd be (proportionately) hugely more non-whites choosing to be be born white than the other way around? How many whites really believe that life would be easier if they'd been born and lived non-white. In aggregate, it's simply an easier life, despite the occasional bit of institutional reverse discrimination (as opposed to the everyday discrimination that every other race has to deal with.)

I'll start worrying for whites like me when I see that changing. And I don't see it changing for a long, long time.

Until that point, whites complaining about discrimination really comes across as whining "we're not winning by enough".

If I could appear black with all the same genes, why wouldn't I? Instead of being discriminated against for being a white gentile and attending the top high school in the nation, I would have gotten into every university I applied to. I would have gotten every job I applied for (legal field). I would no doubt have been pushed up to partner ASAP. What's the downside? Harder to get a taxi?

Dear Tom West:

Right. For example, look at all the disadvantages poor Barack Obama had to overcome. If he were white and had his track record of accomplishment (e.g., once helping get some asbestos partly removed), he'd have become Galactic Overlord by now.

Cliff, I said born and raised. NOT poof you've got all the advantages that being white has gotten you for x years, and now suddenly it's convenient to check a box. Let me know when me know when you feel the deck is so stacked against whites that you'd prefer to be re-incarnated as some random black baby rather than some random white baby.

Steve, shall we focus on the over-all statistics rather cherry picking some individual cases? At this rate, smoking is good for you because my grandfather lived to be 103 and smoked 3 packs a day.

By the way, I'd really recommend the Scalzi post for a fairly even tempered version of what I'm getting at. Makes it clear that just because a group has massive advantages, that doesn't mean every member does well. More importantly, it makes it clear that just because some individuals of a group don't prosper doesn't meant the group as a whole doesn't have a lot of advantages.

How very noble and high-minded for you to decide that it's OK for other people to discriminate against me.

Dear Tom:

White people have advantages primarily because their ancestors and their ancestors' relatives came up with better ways to do things (e.g., science, rule of law, fairness, individualism instead of clannishness, equality before the law, and on and on). That the ancestors of people in other countries did not do what it takes to build the most desirable civilizations on Earth does not strike me as something my descendants should compensate them for. We've already benefited them by providing them with good examples of how they can improve their own societies, many of which examples they've followed.

Moreover, the propagandizing over "diversity" is really not a nonwhite v. white struggle because there really isn't that much nonwhite verbal talent in the top reaches of America. (E.g., leading Hispanic spokesmen for opening the borders tend to be quite white -- spectacularly so in the case of Jorge Ramos of Univision.)

Instead, it's a struggle between various white people for moral and practical superiority, using "concern for The Other" as a weapon to bash other whites.

Tom West says:

"Let me know when me know when you feel the deck is so stacked against whites that you’d prefer to be re-incarnated as some random black baby rather than some random white baby."

Amazingly enough, babies aren't actually made through random reincarnation. Instead, it turns out, they are made through the decisions and actions of their ancestors. Indeed, the more we encourage responsible decision-making when it comes to making babies, the better babies we'll get.

Instead, the dominant narrative is: "So, you come from a long line of deadbeat dads and single moms? What a tragic victim of the white man you are! Here, have some legal privileges to make your life easier, so you can have more leisure to make some irresponsible decisions about the next generation of your own! Rinse and repeat."

Using the property of substitution, Tom West could also say:

"If we gave everybody in the world to opportunity to re-incarnate as whatever ethnicity they wanted, is there any question that there’d be (proportionately) hugely more non-Jews choosing to be be born Jewish than the other way around? How many Jews really believe that life would be easier if they’d been born and lived non-Jewish?"

And, of course, that exact logic also justifies affirmative action and disparate impact lawsuits for gentiles, since Jews make up 35% of the Forbes 400 and enjoy numerous other statistical privileges that gentiles, on average, don't.

Indeed, back in the 1970s, numerous neoconservative intellectuals such as Nathan Glazer and Norman Podhoretz worried very much that that logic justifying legalized reverse discrimination against whites would then be applied specifically to the most privileged white group, Jews. And that would not be good for the Jews.

Over time, though, the neocons lost interest in campaigning vociferously against affirmative action because they came to realize that logic doesn't have much of anything to do with political power. Just use your influence over the media to constantly portray Jews as victims and this logic won't occur to many people. And when somebody inconvenient and stubborn like Pat Buchanan raises the question of Ivy League affirmative action for gentiles, drive him out of the mainstream conservative movement "to encourage the others," as Voltaire would say.

maguro: Pretty much every decision is making a trade-off of one group for another. I simply think that policies that tend to reduce the achievement gaps between races produce social outcomes that are worth the costs. Am I paying those costs? Not particularly. But then I support building power lines because I think the costs of people losing their houses is worth the social benefit of having electricity. Am I a bad person for doing so if I'm not the one losing my house?

Steve #1, I don't consider this a matter of justice, although I think a pretty solid case can be made if one wanted to go there. I consider it a matter of avoiding what happens to societies where there is severe social stratification. It poisons the morality and work ethic of both those on the top and the bottom. Various policies that help break up what may be a naturally occurring tendency for people to keep down those already on the bottom is all to the good (at least if the costs of those policies aren't absurdly high, and I think they're a ways from that).

Steve #2. As for "concern for other" being a weapon. Perhaps. I advocate for policies for my reasons, they may have theirs.

By the way, I'm not claiming moral superiority here. I think my preferred policies produce greater amounts of human happiness (and I'm talking well beyond the individuals directly affected positively and negatively). I could conceivably be wrong. That's why I believe in democracy.

Steve #3. "so you can have more leisure to make some irresponsible decisions about the next generation of your own!"

Indeed, there's a danger of moral hazard - I don't pretend it doesn't exist. But then, I've had my life made a lot easier by having middle-class parents, and I don't recall becoming totally irresponsible, despite the opportunity to be so because of their help. In fact, it made most of my decisions towards responsibility a *lot* easier. I think not fighting for basic survival makes it easier to make both responsible and irresponsible decisions.

Steve #4, Discriminating against the Jews certainly causes my repugance-o-meter to twitch badly for obvious historic reasons, but on strict consequentialist lines, my base feeling is that because we tend to identify visually, I'm more concerned about seeing at least a smattering of racial representation at all echelons of society than particular ethnic or cultural representation. (I suspect that a lot of the cultural diversity will disappear in a generation as people get integrated into the mainstream.)

I'm content not to break things down into ethnicities as a I don't think there's much social benefit to be obtained.

Tom West:

As someone with both White and Asian relations, honestly, I don't think White Males have it nearly as good as some people (e.g. you) seem to think they have. Scalzi can write all he likes about how "white male" is the lowest difficulty setting. And it's nice that, as a White Male from a privileged background (I know the fancy private high school he went to -- I went to a nearby public school) he thinks he had an easy life. Doesn't make it true of other Whites.

If I had to choose a race from behind the Rawlsian veil, as it were . . . well, being White or Black seems like it would be kind of miserable, actually, unless I could *also* guarantee that I came from the top of the socio-economic hierarchy.

Being an Asian-White mix is pretty nice, all things considered. Being Asian-American seems just about as good. And it seems a **lot** easier to jump class as an Asian-American today -- e.g. stock-boy to stockbroker in one generation -- than it is for Whites, Blacks, or Hispanics. Less chance of dropping class too. I am pretty sure the statistics bear my impression out. If I wanted to maximise my advantages, I'd choose being Asian-American.

Taeyoung, John Scalzi (the SF author) was born and raised *bitterly* poor. Are you confusing him with a different author?

Being an Asian-White mix is pretty nice, all things considered.

Well, my sons think so. And at least around here (middle class neighborhood), the racial epithets have disappeared so utterly that I had to explain to my son in grade 5 the whole concept of them when they were studying the history of US school integration. He was *really* upset for weeks that adults could act like that. (Aside: schools really have changed, the kids don't even make fun of last names anymore - and with a last name of West, I knew (mistakenly) what my kids were in for.)

And yes, being born Asian is not a particularly large handicap anymore, although I think it's still not as easy as being white. Not because of outright "I hate them" discrimination, but simply that as a visible minority (or particular gender) one is likely to be "typecast" in people's minds, and one is constantly fighting against the narrative in people's minds that desperately wants to put things back into the "natural" order. Again, I think this is a natural outcome of how the human brain works, but it does produce very real un-optimal results, and I consider part the responsibilities of government to at least partially counteract such counterproductive tendencies.

Re: Tom West:

Unless it's a different John Scalzi, Scalzi went to Webb -- that's the local rich kid school. If he wasn't rich himself, that was certainly his milieu. Very expensive. Maybe he was a scholarship boy?

"And yes, being born Asian is not a particularly large handicap anymore, although I think it’s still not as easy as being white. Not because of outright “I hate them” discrimination, but simply that as a visible minority (or particular gender) one is likely to be “typecast” in people’s minds, and one is constantly fighting against the narrative in people’s minds that desperately wants to put things back into the “natural” order."

That's part of the advantage of being born Asian. Even if you are of middling talents, *everything* out there in the mainstream culture is gently nudging you to excel, to a life path that's either solidly middle-class or upper-middle-class. And that pressure isn't just schoolteachers -- if you're part of an Asian-American community, it's mostly going to be your fellow Asian-Americans (not really "gentle nudging" when it's fellow Asian-Americans, though).

Sure, it's probably harder for dumb Asians than it is for dumb Whites or dumb Blacks. So it's not cost-free. But setting the expectations high naturally encourages people to aim high. And my impression is that Asian-Americans from modest backgrounds see a much wider range of possibilities open to them than Whites (even if their parents only see Doctor, Engineer, and Lawyer. All from Harvard.)

Whites, like Blacks and Hispanics, in contrast, suffer from the "soft bigotry of low expectations," as it were. "Society," as it were, will let Blacks and Hispanics slide by with C's, and Whites slide by with B's, but Asians are expected to get A's. Sure individual families differ, but even for academically rigorous families of other races, there's no pressure from outside -- from the media, from friends, from news, from the background chit-chat one overhears -- backing it up. Unless your family is already ensconced in the proto-mandarin professional classes.

Now, maybe this is "harder" for Asians in the sense that if what you want to do with your life is turn on, tune in, and drop out, you'll have a harder go of it, socially, as an Asian than as any other race. And if you want to start a company in your garage, well, your Asian parents are probably going to be less willing to accept that than if you had Whites for parents. And are you going to be discriminated against? Sure -- lots of Californians fear and resent Asians. I've seen that expressed with anti-Asian epithets in San Francisco, and with occasional complaints all over the state that Asians will take/are taking all the slots at the good UCs (e.g. that girl from UCLA). And some Blacks kind of hate us (e.g. the LA Riots, various smaller incidents since) which is never nice. And as noted in this thread, because American society expects your baseline performance to be superior to the other races, you may face a higher bar when applying to elite colleges, etc. And sometimes people assume Asians can't speak well, so they shouldn't be in client-facing roles.

But from behind the veil, if I had to choose, I would choose the race most likely to face pressures that will guide you towards probity, academic accomplishment, and marital and economic stability, almost regardless of where you start on the socioeconomic ladder. And that would be Asian-American. Sure, some of the hurdles might be set a little higher. But there's also guardrails of a sort. A kind of safety net.

I should also note, re: discrimination against Asians, that however much people resent Asians, increasingly, people (even some Whites) hate Whites more. That doesn't matter to you now, but in 20 years, it will matter to the people who are children now.

And as I think about your hypothetical . . . do you honestly think the average young person today who has a choice chooses to identify as White? Really? Are there *any* non-Whites who are trying to pass as White? At all? Maybe they're just really good at it, but I don't know of a single one in my acquaintance. When I was in high-school and college, even people who looked totally White to me and could easily have passed, if they wanted to, were occasionally at pains to emphasise that one of their great-grandparents was Black, or they're a quarter-Japanese, or whatever. Something to distance themselves from being too White.

Taeyoung: You're of course correct about Scalzi's school (I checked his bio). Now I'm curious as to how me managed to go there. (His essay Being Poor based heavily on his life experiences was eye opening for me.)

All your other points were very interesting, and ones that I for the most part agree with in terms of advantages in expectations. Your point about racial identification was interesting. Out of interest, I asked my son, but I had already guessed his response. "Huh? What? No, I don't identify by race. What has race to do with anything?" And, to be honest, up to his current (university) age, it *is* pretty much irrelevant in terms of having had zero effect on his life.

His culture, on the other hand, has had a huge effect and he's in enough of a bubble that he's rarely stepped out of it. I strongly suspect he'd identify "North American urban middle-class" if he really knew about the other cultures out there. Right now it would be like fish identifying as water-dwelling. Anyway, thanks for your posts. They've been quite thought provoking.

Re: academic accomplishment. The stats I've seen on academic application vs SAT ability seem to indicate that adjusted for grades, Blacks tend to attend college the most and Whites the least, with Asians intermediate but closest to Whites.

However, of the Asians, I think Japanese Americans came out with the lowest college attendance relative to ability (lower than Whites).

High professional and life status as an aspiration seems very much lot like a very distinctive Asian-American de novo trait. It's not on obvious feature of Chinese or Korean culture, for instance (which seem a lot more salaryman-ish).

Interestingly, marriage rates seem very typical in developed Asian countries (slightly higher but with a sharper rate of decline) - http://www.project.org/info.php?recordID=349 and http://mattbruenig.com/wp-content/uploads/marriagerates.png. So a high Asian American marriage rate may be another denovo trait, perhaps of the interaction of high American marriage rates (see graph) and Asian culture.

Taeyoung, plastic surgery to look white is common among East Asians. So is dying their hair blond or brown, changing their names to Western names, among many other things that East Asians desperately and are eager to take on. In 2010, Korea blanketed the US with travel ads in the wake of President Obama's visit to Korea to sign a free trade deal. The ad had Koreans walking around an intersection, they ALL had plastic surgery on their eyelids and they ALL had blond or brown dyed hair. It was one of the strangest and comical things I've seen on TV.

TR W, I have to say that simply because genetics means that almost every Asian has dark hair doesn't reduce the desire to be stand-out by dyeing one's hair. As pressures to conform die down in Korean society and exposure to world culture increases, it seems perfectly natural that young Koreans take to dyeing their hair in the same fashion as North Americans simply as a matter of self-expression.

After all, is dyeing your hair a color that your race doesn't normally have so much odder than dyeing your hair a color that you don't normally have?

As for the "eyelid" surgery, does this standard of beauty (I'm assuming it's a beauty thing) predate contact with Caucasians? Certainly lots of Caucasians have cosmetic surgery for reasons other than wanting to resemble other races, so I don't think the eyelid surgery proves much.

It's not just eyelid surgery. It is a collection of surgeries to make East Asians look white. Eyelid surgery is the most obvious. Shaving down cheek bones and jaw bones and getting chin implants are common. Look at East Asian artwork before the arrival of European explorers and then look at what they are striving to look like now and you will notice a huge difference. They want to imitate the ways and looks of European people.

So HYP have transitioned seamlessly from a bunch of white gentiles discriminating against Jews to a bunch of Jews discriminating aginst white gentiles.

Could it be that meritocracy isn't really possible in a diverse society? Perhaps tribalism and discrimination are inevitable and the only question is who will be discriminating against whom.

Or maybe we can reach a more enlightened era in which racism of all sorts is frowned upon by American society. The Jews are no worse than any other group. But they aren't any better, either.

This is the $64 trillion question. No multiethnic state (no majority ethnicity) without a powerful leader has held together. If you want to live in a diverse American meritocracy, you probably need a coup by the U.S. military.

Have economists ever gotten around to studying what kind of alumni give the most money?

I've been told that secret studies by universities shows that the biggest givers tend to be smart white male legacy jocks. For example, USC recently got $200 million David Dornsife, the shotputter on USC 1965 national champion track team, and son of USC grads:


Also, Wall St guys. Which is why UPenn has a Jewish student body of 30%.

Modern Ivies are today hedge funds with an educational sidehustle on the wayside by accident.

Right: the biggest donor is likely to turn out to be, say, the guy with the 750 Math score on the lacrosse team who wants to go to Wall Street and make a killing: in other words, exactly the kind of guy the local DA and faculty tried to frame in the 2006 Duke Lacrosse Rape Hoax.

I'm a white male, and grew up in a rural area with no connections. Help, help, I'm being repressed!

You have no idea how privileged you are! That it is completely invisible and utterly undetectable ONLY demonstrates how pernicious and effective it is!!!

Actually, Unz found 'no evidence of racial bias against Asians' in favor of whites in general. Here is a long quote:

"When examining statistical evidence, the proper aggregation of data is critical. Consider the ratio of the recent 2007–2011 enrollment of Asian students at Harvard relative to their estimated share of America’s recent NMS semifinalists, a reasonable proxy for the high-ability college-age population, and compare this result to the corresponding figure for whites. The Asian ratio is 63 percent, slightly above the white ratio of 61 percent, with both these figures being considerably below parity due to the substantial presence of under-represented racial minorities such as blacks and Hispanics, foreign students, and students of unreported race. ** Thus, there appears to be no evidence for racial bias against Asians, even excluding the race-neutral impact of athletic recruitment, legacy admissions, and geographical diversity.**

However, if we separate out the Jewish students, their ratio turns out to be 435 percent, while the residual ratio for non-Jewish whites drops to just 28 percent, less than half of even the Asian figure. As a consequence, Asians appear under-represented relative to Jews by a factor of seven, while non-Jewish whites are by far the most under-represented group of all, despite any benefits they might receive from athletic, legacy, or geographical distribution factors. The rest of the Ivy League tends to follow a similar pattern, with the overall Jewish ratio being 381 percent, the Asian figure at 62 percent, and the ratio for non-Jewish whites a low 35 percent, all relative to their number of high-ability college-age students.

Just as striking as these wildly disproportionate current numbers have been the longer enrollment trends. In the three decades since I graduated Harvard, the presence of white Gentiles has dropped by as much as 70 percent, despite no remotely comparable decline in the relative size or academic performance of that population; meanwhile, the percentage of Jewish students has actually increased. ***This period certainly saw a very rapid rise in the number of Asian, Hispanic, and foreign students, as well as some increase in blacks. But it seems rather odd that all of these other gains would have come at the expense of whites of Christian background, and none at the expense of Jews."***

Unz's evidence is circumstantial. There's no direct evidence that high-achieving whites are being turned down at elite universities so as to favor Jews and others. For example, it seems unlikely that the mean SAT score of Jews at Harvard would be lower than that of non-Jewish whites. There's some evidence that working-class and rural whites are disfavored though, as demonstrated by Espenshade.

"Unz’s evidence is circumstantial."

That's why the legal concept of "disparate impact" exists: the government doesn't need to prove "disparate treatment," just "disparate impact," as in the current Fire Department of New York case where the Bush Administration sued because New York uses a hiring test that white guys do better on than black or Hispanic guys, on average. Is New York alleging that whites are smarter or harder working than blacks or Hispanics? Similarly, is Harvard alleging by its behavior that Jews are smarter or harder working than gentiles?

My question is, even so, should we care about the 0.5%?

They'll be the 0.5% making eight figures on Wall Street.

Heck, in the last 7 presidential elections, the major party candidates have averages over one Harvard or Yale degree apiece.

It's important.

The important thing is that I'm an allegedly high-achieving non-Jewish rural white who graduated from HLS. I got mine.

It's of crucial importance if you view the world as a top-down place.

The .5% decide who gets into the 15%

" it seems unlikely that the mean SAT score of Jews at Harvard would be lower than that of non-Jewish whites. "

It's funny that you dismiss Unz for using mere "circumstantial" evidence, while you feel perfectly free to make baseless assertions devoid of any evidence at all. There are more smart Christian white people in the country then there are smart Jewish white people. That fact should be reflected in the demographics of the student population at places like Harvard.

Jews have a substantial IQ advantage compared to non-Jewish whites, and this advantage gets larger at the right tail of the distribution. A selective school where non-Jewish whites had a higher mean IQ than Jews would surprise me almost as much as one where blacks had a higher mean than whites. But of course it's possible. The evidence Unz presents is very indirect and does not allow reliable inferences about SAT score differences. Moreover, he has published highly flawed quantitative analyses before.

Isn't the interesting thing about the evolution of affirmative action the switch from pro-women bias to pro-men, to help the ever-increasing number of schools that are bumping up against the dread 60% female ratio? Hanna Rosin's "The End of Men" tells the tale in more detail...

220+ comments?! This post hit a raw nerve with you academics...

The comments don't really express a lot of raw nerve.

We're way past 220 by now.

The number of comments express the importance and interest of the topic, combined with the repression of the topic in other venues.

"220+ comments?! This post hit a raw nerve with you academics…"

290 and counting. A very raw nerve.

Two things are key to understanding everything Harvard-related. First, the purpose of Harvard is simply elite perpetuation, and second, the idea that the elite are meritorious, "the best and the brightest," is a myth propagated by the elite to justify their social status. Obviously if Harvard really were the best it would be majority Asian, just as obviously the American elite can't be majority Asian. Affirmative action is necessary both for the meritocracy myth to be believable and also because an ethnic elite is out of style -- our masters can't be all white these days. I suspect that there's a relationship between the Harvard phenomenon is related to the Great Stagnation. In the past, back then, people could accept that Harvard was just the school for a certain type of person, didn't George Bush go there for chrissake? Nobody believed too strongly the meritocracy myth, so nobody who wasn't a certain type of person would even care to try to enter Harvard. Accordingly all the effort and training in high school wasted on looking good on test scores for what's really a lottery for the few Harvard spots not already designated to George Bush types would in the past have gone into actually productive activities.

The Chinese have been prepping for tests for over 1,400 years, since the Emperor introduced civil service exams for entrance to the Mandarinate in the 590s.

The notion that we could use IQ-like tests to determine how smart applicants are (and grades to determine how hard working they are) was a naive Anglo-Saxon delusion that couldn't survive contact with millions of East Asian immigrants with 50 generations of experience with test prep.

But, it was a nice delusion while it lasted.

I dare say it's not just the Chinese. When the British Empire introduced standardised examinations for the Imperial Civil Service in India, they had to institute affirmative action for Whites because otherwise all the slots would go to Bengalis. I can't find it now, but there's an amusing quote about this from a member of the Viceregal Council included in a footnote (I think) in Gilmour's The Ruling Caste. It's something about Bengalis being so quick our English boys can't keep up.

Doesn't grinding for grades and fanatical test prepping indeed show how hard working someone is? And are you also saying IQ tests don't indicate how smart someone is?

Is that the 'delusion' you mean?

Contradiction, Steve. Or maybe a revelation? You cite IQ ad absurdum to show how some races are smarter than others...but is this comment now meant to say IQ-like tests to determine smarts are a 'delusion'? Is it a delusion because whites do worse than Asians on them?

And does the Tiger mom-driven work of getting good grades and practicing piano and test prepping not count as hard work?

mood-tweaked leftoid:
"Doesn’t grinding for grades and fanatical test prepping indeed show how hard working someone is? And are you also saying IQ tests don’t indicate how smart someone is?"

dichotomy fallacy. the universe can contain both the proposition that IQ tests are predictive of life success and reflect real differences in general mental ability, and the proposition that an exam-prepping culture can maximize test-taking skills with diminishing returns to the exam results' correlation with real world ingenuity.

"Doesn’t grinding for grades and fanatical test prepping indeed show how hard working someone is?"


But, the original concept of college admissions was that high school GPA would show how hard-working _and_ smart you were, while the SAT/ACT would offer more insight into the smart part. Massive test prepping reduces the amount of independent insight that the SAT was supposed to provide.

Does test prepping work? I used to be skeptical, but I'm coming around on that watching Asian friends enroll their kids in multi-year test prep programs, with some success.


Use of Test-Prep Courses and Gains, by Race and Ethnicity

Group % Taking Test-Prep Course Post-Course Gain in Points on SAT
East Asian American 30% 68.8
Other Asian 15% 23.8
White 10% 12.3
Black 16% 14.9
Hispanic 11% 24.6

One reform I've proposed is for college admissions to start paying more attention to Advanced Placement test scores, since massive test prepping for AP tests means kids might actually learn something like chemistry or calculus or European history as a byproduct of their prepping.

Re: Asians and test-prep, I think the major distortion is, as Education Realist notes, in the English-language reading comp section. Many Asian-Americans are (comparatively) weak in English either because it is not their first language, or they were raised by people for whom it was not a first language. That's a disadvantage that lots of drilling and vocabulary cards can go a long way to remedying, even if it doesn't necessarily translate into a larger effective vocabulary or better written communication. It's not time well spent. But arguably, the real distortion there is just that the test construct is using building blocks they don't have. And they (or their parents) are doing the sensible thing -- not whining that the test is culturally biased, but putting in the hours necessary to overcome that stumbling block.

I could be wrong, and third generation Asian-Americans might be seeing comparably large gains. But that would be rather surprising to me.

"Massive?" Most test prep courses are done in a single weekend. Are these tests really so easy to game?

So in your post-delusional Utopia how does one determine how smart and hard-working applicants are?

Or is the very mark of a good competency-test the fact that it can sieve out the immigrants?

Steve-o definitely let his slip show with that post. He got carried away, he's all over this blog lately.

"So in your post-delusional Utopia how does one determine how smart and hard-working applicants are?"

It's a problem. The first step toward solutions is to talk about the problem, then to study it in detail, discussing the results publicly.

For example, the U of California long demanded applicants take both the SAT and two or three SAT II subject tests. A decade ago, the U of C demanded that ETS/College Board change the SAT to include elements of the Subject tests, such as an essay. ETS complied, so U of C announced it intended to drop the Subject test requirements.

At the point, the Asian caucus in the California legislature went nuts, denouncing the U of California for trying to simplify the process of getting into the U of C. Why? Presumably because the more complicated the process and the more separate tests, the more likely Asians are to successfully jump through all the hoops.


A simplified process is not the best process. Hell, the simplest process may be a lottery.

How do we decide what's the best process? Again, all you are doing is judging a test by what ethnic cohort does well at it. How do you know that {SAT + Subject SAT } was not doing a better job than SAT alone?

One way is to have open public debate between representatives of the various racial interest groups. Asians politicians prefer a complicated testing system, while whites tend to prefer a simpler system. California is full of professional Asian ethnic representatives, but is remarkably lacking in white ethnic activists, so this debate can't be carried out because only one side showed up.


I think that's exactly the wrong way of doing things; it only politicizes the matter further. Why encourage racial interest groups at all?

Why not decide on the basis of what criterion will select the students with the best aptitude for specific courses? Why does race have to enter the picture? Does a Professor meet with ethnic reps. before drawing up his end-semester exam?

"Why encourage racial interest groups at all?"

racial interest groups will emerge organically, without any encouragement, simply by existing in large enough numbers to allow the disparate groups to feel confident in refusing assimilation to the majority culture. of course, we have the encouragement (at the expense of white men) also, which speeds tribalism up significantly, but what sense does it make for whites and whites alone to sit out the hungry hungry exploitation of the spoils system and get trounced by their antagonists for some high-minded principle, when no other group is interested in playing by those rules, or wishes to play by different rules that better reflect the rules they followed back in their homelands?

remember kiddies... diversity + proximity = war. memorize it!

lol, you're argument amounts to: "But ma, everyone else gets to play the victim?"

So, let's all play the politics of victimization!

Or not.

Nothing you can say (and you've said quite enough for me to understand where you're coming from) will convince me of the special sorrow borne by white males living in 21st century America. It's as silly as all the other 'victim' groups complaints all rolled together.

"So, let’s all play the politics of victimization!"

hey man, i didn't say it was a good thing. but it is a smart thing if the alternative is getting taken to the cleaners by less honorable players in the game.

"Nothing you can say (and you’ve said quite enough for me to understand where you’re coming from) will convince me of the special sorrow borne by white males living in 21st century America."

ah, the ol' tacit "you were genetically blessed so some putatively marginal discrimination against you is justified" argument. hint: that kind of argument only flies with self-annihilating betaboys with incipient cuckold fantasies.

Dude, you crack me up with your awesome self-serving pop psychology.

Look, I don't like whiners, which is why I'm not a fan of victim politics generally.

Life is unfair, to all of us, on lots of different dimesnions, if we care to dwell on them.

When I put the beefs of someone who was born as a white guy in 20th/21st century American in the scales against, oh, I don't know, just about anyone born anywhere at anytime in this vale of tears, well, you're toward the back of the line, and, if I'm gonna give whiners any attention at all, well, you're just gonna have to wait your turn.

"Dude, you crack me up with your awesome self-serving pop psychology."

are you constitutionally allergic to the idea of a human nature, and broad racial differences in behavior and preferences?

"Look, I don’t like whiners, which is why I’m not a fan of victim politics generally."

so i take it you are not a fan of martin luther king, jr?

"Life is unfair, to all of us, on lots of different dimesnions, if we care to dwell on them."

nice equivalency. some unfairnesses are more unfair than others. purposely devised disparate impact policies which negatively affect white men are quite a bit qualitatively different than, for example, inborn differences in ability.

"When I put the beefs of someone who was born as a white guy in 20th/21st century American in the scales against, oh, I don’t know, just about anyone born anywhere at anytime in this vale of tears, well, you’re toward the back of the line, and, if I’m gonna give whiners any attention at all, well, you’re just gonna have to wait your turn."

translation: you are lucky you weren't born a rwandan, so count your blessings and stop bitching when i flood your country with antagonistic third worlders and generally make life more difficult for you than it would be under a system in which you weren't a bogeyman for every minority failing under the sun.

No, lol, the real translation of his last comment to you is "grow the hell up, or shut the hell up, or both"

It was the professional judgment of the Chancellor of the U. of California that incorporating expanding the SAT to include some of the SAT Subject Test materials and then dumping the SAT Subject Test requirement would be optimal. He succeeded in getting ETS to do the first part, but he then was having trouble getting the Asian Caucus in the legislature to let him finish his plan because the Asian Caucus felt that the longer, more complicated the testing requirement, the better Asians would do at the expense of other races.

My view is that racial groups will tend to bend the system in their favor, so the main injustice is when one group isn't allowed to play.


Where's the evidence? Usually you are quick with the links. The studies I have seen show 30-point improvement on the SATs at most.

Crickets. He won't reply to this part of the thread. Busted.


69 point gain for Asians on average from test prepping vs. much lower gains for whites, blacks, and Hispanics.

Actual results on the efficacy of test prep:


By far the largest effect sizes belong to the those preparation activities involving either a commercial course or private tutor [NEVERTHELESS THE SCORE CHANGES ARE NOT LARGE], and the effects differ for each section of the SAT. On average students with private tutors improve their math scores by 19 points more than those students without private tutors. The effect is less on the verbal section, where having a private tutor only improves scores on average by seven points. Taking a commercial course has a similarly large effect on math scores, improving them on average by 17 points, and has the largest effect on verbal scores, improving them on average by 13 points. With the exception of studying with a book, no other activity analyzed in this manner has an effect on test score changes that is statistically different from zero at a .05 significance level.

I used to teach an SAT prep class. My impression was that most of the benefit was just from test-retest effects, and that anyone could approximate the gains they'd get from a prep class by buying a book of 5 practice exams and taking them on their own.

That was my impression in the 1970s, too. I did better than my classmates in part because I had taken the free practice test on my own, and because I wasn't hung-over on a Saturday morning.

But, it's not the 1970s anymore.

The scale of test prepping is so much more formidable today that we old white guys can't assume we're talking about the same thing. It's easy to do a small experiment that shows moderate gains from, say, the first 10 hours of test prep and declining gains from the next 20.

But, now, in the real world, we're talking about many hundreds, if not thousands of hours of test prep over several years. Who can get the money to run a controlled experiment of that size?

Byun, S.-Y., & Park, H. (2012). The academic success of East Asian American youth: the role of shadow education. Sociology of Education, 85(1), 40–60. doi:10.1177/0038040711417009

This is a study of a nationally representative sample. About 30 percent of EAs used test prep. But the score gain from prep only accounts for a fraction of the EA-W difference in average SAT.

"In this study, we aim to reduce this research
gap by investigating the extent to which shadow
education contributes to the high performance of
children of Asian immigrants, especially focusing
on East Asian American students. ...

Moreover, the number of various shadow education institutions such as cram schools has dramatically
increased in the communities, especially of East
Asian immigrants such as Chinese and Koreans,
in the United States (Shrake 2010; Zhou 2008;
Zhou and Kim 2006). Additionally, East Asian
immigrant students (e.g., Chinese, Japanese, and
Koreans) as a group have drawn special attention
due to their relatively high educational achievement compared to other Asian and non-Asian
immigrant students "

As an Ashkenazi Jew myself, I fail to see any big issue here, nor do I see the "collapse" Unz refers to. What i see is that Jews are still highly disproportionately represented in the groups he discusses, but that this disproportion has shrunk as more Asians have come in.

Well, gee. There are, let's note, billions of Asians in the world, of whom only a small fraction live in the US. If we assume that Asian immigrants mostly come from the higher end of the intelligence distribution then we're going to get a very smart group of people. The ten million smartest Asians are very bright indeed. Add cultural habits that emphasize scholarship and they are going to outperform other groups academically by far.

Just speaking for myself, this seems like a good thing for the country.

"If we assume that Asian immigrants mostly come from the higher end of the intelligence distribution then we’re going to get a very smart group of people."

I don't think you can really assume that permanent immigrants here are coming from the higher end of the intelligence distribution. It's fairly common for children of the upper middle classes who couldn't pass competitive college (or even high school) entrance exams in Korea to be sent to the US for their education. I think that trend extends down into the middle classes to a certain extent as well. Anyhow, while they probably aren't at the very bottom of the bell curve, neither are they likely to be at the very top. Maybe in the third quartile.

I don’t think you can really assume that permanent immigrants here are coming from the higher end of the intelligence distribution.

I think this is true, but you need relatively few couples like Terence Tao's parents to radically alter competition at the IMO level (while leaving the general structure untouched). If 5% of Asian immigrants come from the top 1% of Asian society while 95% of Asian immigrants come from the 99%.... Then while the mean won't change very much...

What happens with East Asia may not be South Asia extreme, but may be more than random sampling. And there are lots of people to sample from.

Completely random sampling with no deviations may be the simpler hypothesis (and thus preferable as the null), but I would not put too much money on theory a theory build on such a not very tested null hypothesis.

"What i see is that Jews are still highly disproportionately represented in the groups he discusses, but that this disproportion has shrunk as more Asians have come in."

what you should be seeing, because it's what the data says, is that jews are way over-represented at the ivies in proportion to their actual representation in the general population at ivy-level IQs, and that it is red state, rural, white christians, not asians, who are most heavily discriminated against for ivy admittance. oh, and that this discrimination, while most likely flowing from unconscious biases, is perpetrated by ivy admissions boards that are also over-represented by people who have historically nursed a grudge against rural, white, religious christians.

keepin' it real, brah.


You and Unz have caught us out.

But you know, speaking of data, while there is a lot of stuff about SAT scores and NMS, I didn't notice much at all about actual, you know, academic performance in high school. Do you think that matters?

There's also only the slightest reference that I saw to patterns of application.

And before you start blaming mysterious conspiracies, maybe you ought to think about the different cultural attitudes towards schools and education that different groups have. Call me biased, but my observation, living lots of places, is that the group you claim is discriminated against is self-handicapped to begin with. If you teach your kids that the Bible is the ultimate source of scientific knowledge, and that the most important thing about a high school is its football team, you are not likely to see a high level of interest in serious academic matters, even from those with strong natural abilities.

If you also tell them that the Ivies are full of pointy-headed communist ivory-tower fools, they are somewhat less likely to want to go there, don't you think?

Keep it real.

"And before you start blaming mysterious conspiracies, maybe you ought to think about the different cultural attitudes towards schools and education that different groups have. Call me biased, but my observation, living lots of places, is that the group you claim is discriminated against is self-handicapped to begin with. If you teach your kids that the Bible is the ultimate source of scientific knowledge, and that the most important thing about a high school is its football team, you are not likely to see a high level of interest in serious academic matters, even from those with strong natural abilities."

Dude, it is not cool to talk about black people like this. LOL.

lords of lies was talking about "red state, rural, white christians."

What does that have to do with blacks, who tend, on the whole, not to be white? And snark aside, I don't see a lot of blacks yelling about the evils of teaching evolution. Seems like mostly a white thing to me.

Dude, it is not cool to talk about Hispanic people like this. LOL.

You're kinda slow on the uptake for a Jewish fella :-)

Boom goes the dynamite.

And before you start blaming mysterious conspiracies, maybe you ought to think about the different cultural attitudes towards schools and education that different groups have.

And you ought to think about which group founded and built all of the schools we are talking about. You may be mistaken about which group values education the most.

And you might want to check the paranoia that translates "unconscious biases" into "mysterious conspiracies".

Call me biased, but my observation, living lots of places, is that the group you claim is discriminated against is self-handicapped to begin with.

Handicapped by a universalist ethic of fairness that is not reciprocated by people like you.

Looking at it from a liberal perspective, about half of the US population living in poverty is white. It seems counterproductive to exclude representatives from this demographic group, or who are intimately familiar with this demographic group, from America's ruling elite. Of course, if you are conservative, maybe you see it as good thing that white trash like Bill Clinton would have a hard time getting into Harvard these days. (I don't mean that comment to disparage Clinton, just to point out that sociologically speaking Bill Clinton would nowadays be considered socially undesirable in the Ivies.)

"pointy-headed communist ivory-tower fools"

You're saying they're not? Have things changed?

An example of someone whose life may have turned out very differently under the current ivy admissions regime: billionaire investor Jim Rogers. A poor Alabama boy who graduated from Yale in 1964 and got his first job at Dominick & Dominick, eventually going on to partner with George Soros. What are the odds a Jim Rogers from Alabama could get into Yale today?


This seems straightforward to me. Harvard admissions seeks to maintain the social prestige of a Harvard degree.

They clearly have to admit some very clever people in order to retain the academic prestige. This ensures that Harvard summas are among the brightest around - and so preserve their presence in the professoriate nationwide.

But it's also of great value to admit people of lesser academic ability who have social advantages (ie rich and well-connected parents) and are therefore likely to achieve positions of social prestige and economic or political power. Harvard benefits from both the Presidential candidates having Harvard JDs.

In summary, it's time for American Jews to realize they are no longer besieged outsiders, but are now the closet thing to insiders in the American power elite. In the past WASP elites espoused an ethic of noblesse oblige, of long term care for the country entrusted to them. It would be good to see America's Jews shed their self-image of perpetual victims and take up the responsibilities of noblesse oblige, of caring for the conservation of this great nation of ours.

What makes you think that they aren't already? Also, what exactly are these specific responsibilities of noblesse oblige? I see Jewish academics doing great work academically and also in general policy discourse etc.

What exactly is your allegation?

"What makes you think that they aren’t already? Also, what exactly are these specific responsibilities of noblesse oblige? I see Jewish academics doing great work academically and also in general policy discourse etc."

The foremost component of "noblesse oblige" is putting the good of the nation ahead of personal gain or ethnic loyalty. That includes foreign policy, immigration policy, trade policy, social policy, etc. It also includes not allowing resentments from ancient history (see http://www.harpweek.com/09Cartoon/BrowseByDateCartoon.asp?Month=July&Date=28) to determine your political views today. The Irish (Irish-Americans) have managed it. Catholics (Catholic-Americans) have managed. So can Jews, Asians, and everyone else.

So 'noblesse oblige' is a step forward here? meh.

As far as I'm concerned, America has been one of the best things to ever happen to Jews, and vice versa. People complaining on either side of this argument oughtta consider that.

Riding on the backs of European people has been the best thing for Jews. They won't give it though without being forced to. Read the story of Joseph and the Egyptians in the Hebrew Bible, written thousands of years ago, and you will recognize it. It's a story that is constantly repeated in real life wherever Jews go.

"In summary, it’s time for American Jews to realize they are no longer besieged outsiders, but are now the closet thing to insiders in the American power elite. In the past WASP elites espoused an ethic of noblesse oblige, of long term care for the country entrusted to them. It would be good to see America’s Jews shed their self-image of perpetual victims and take up the responsibilities of noblesse oblige, of caring for the conservation of this great nation of ours."

This is basically what David Brooks has been saying, although leaving out the name of the people who replaced the old WASP elites. Rahul, have you not read the paper or comments?

Russell K. Nieli on study by Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Radford (mentioned by Unz):

“When lower-class whites are matched with lower-class blacks and other non-whites the degree of the non-white advantage becomes astronomical: lower-class Asian applicants are seven times as likely to be accepted to the competitive private institutions as similarly qualified whites, lower-class Hispanic applicants eight times as likely, and lower-class blacks ten times as likely. These are enormous differences and reflect the fact that lower-class whites were rarely accepted to the private institutions Espenshade and Radford surveyed. Their diversity-enhancement value was obviously rated very low.”


I will read through the comments (which are sure to stimulate) later, but I have just one comment to add.

Prof. Cowen stated that he was uncomfortable with the ethnic/racial/religious counting. I'm not sure if he meant the statistical methodology (which indeed does seem fairly simple, though not necessarily unsound), or the very act of categorizing people according to those criteria.

If his reservations fall into the second category, I would add that there are good reasons for this: Portes and Rumbaut (2001), in their work "Legacies," showed that ethnicity matters for socioeconomic outcomes not only because different ethnic groups have different endowments of socioeconomic resources, but also because the "context of reception" for immigrant groups and the perceptions of said group by outsiders/larger society makes a difference on outcomes that is statistically significant and large in its effects.

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