My Bloomberg column on Harvard and Asian-American admissions

Here is the column, here is one bit:

I attended Harvard (for my doctorate in economics), and most of the people there are as well-meaning as any you might find in Idaho or West Virginia.


Step back from the emotions of the current debate and start with the general point that social elites need to replicate themselves, one way or another.


The collateral damage on Asian-American applicants is psychologically minimized and explained away as a problem that can only be remedied over time.


Few societies have methods of assuring cultural continuity that could be revealed transparently without causing at least some outrage or scandal… It is no accident that Harvard has strenuously resisted disclosing the methods of its admission processes.

Get the picture?  By the way:

In the meantime, the elites will do everything possible to protect the system, co-opt the opposition, and make a mix of symbolic and real concessions…You will recognize these elites by their apologies, their attempts to shift the focus back to African-American issues, and their unwillingness to entertain fundamental change.


Thus do the retreats of our effete elites remain incomplete.

That's easily worth the rare +1 from me.

And their bleats are replete with conceit and bull-excrete. What thetes!

And they meet so sweet, discrete and complete, to compete for treats! Oh those effete elites!

Trump, the effete elite, looks soft and weak as Jews and Blacks be beat last week by social media creeps.

Tyler such sloppy writing. "social elites need to replicate themselves, one way or another."

Are elites Harvard grads? Don't these Asians who go to Harvard become elites? This is something you need to explain or exerpt because as it stands this word jumble looks like sloppy 8th grader writing.

"Are elites Harvard grads? Don't these Asians who go to Harvard become elites?"

I agree he should explain in further detail, but I infer from that statement the subtext that the social elites are not necessarily segregated by race, but by power and authority.

"Social elite" for me is synonymous with "decider". I.E. The people that decide who gets what, when, where, how and why have a need to decide and select who gets to be their replacement. The social elite get to select who their descendants get to be, not necessarily along racial lines, but rather sociocultunomic (my word)lines. Harvard admissions is an important - but not only - piece in creating that ideal dossier. That is the REAL power.

Real elites don't send their offspring to college. They hire the smartest people they can find to tutor their kids on a 24/7 basis, like Emperor Franz Joseph I employed Carl Menger to educate his son Archduke Rudolf von Habsburg. It seems odd that some filthy rich American hedge fund engineer hasn't talked Paul Krugman into moving into the mansion and instructing his kids. It would be cheaper than sending them to Harvard, if that mattered, and much more exclusive.

This presupposes that elites want to fill their kids' heads with knowledge rather than get the Ivy pedigree and social network. Entirely false on its face.

They hire the smartest people they can find to tutor their kids on a 24/7 basis,

The real elite know that it's not what you know it's who you know. The classroom learning is almost irrelevant compared to the relationships built and the future relationships that are open to you because of your membership in that very select club.

I couldn't have done it without Aristotle.

It's not really a question of relationships, unless maybe if you want to go to graduate (as opposed to professional) school. None of the professors or students I knew at Yale could help me get into law school (it's just grades and board scores) or help me make partner at a law firm (it's pleasing the partners, who are a number of years older than you). And there are only 30 or 40 people in the world (general counsels at major financial institutions) who can direct work to me. (It would be nice if I had roomed with one of them at Yale, but I didn't.)

What an Ivy League degree does offer is credentialing. When they see "Yale," they will always read the entire resume and possibly give you the benefit of the doubt with respect to any weaknesses. That has helped me for the past 48 years, but I don't have a single useful acquaintance from my time as an undergraduate.

"What an Ivy League degree does offer is credentialing. "

+1 million

The entire Supreme Court is Harvard or Yale Law. Undergrad is 3 Princeton, one Cornell, one Harvard, one Stanford, one Holly Cross, one Yale, one Columbia. Only Holy Cross is non-elite.

No public school grads at all despite 3/4 of all grads go to public schools.

[Ginsburg is technically Columbia Law but she spent 2/3 of her time at Harvard so I am counting her as Harvard.]

Once upon a time, not too long ago a new marketing manager started working for our company (construction industry). He was astoundingly young to have the job - just got his MBA. People definitely treated him differently because it was a Havard MBA. The widespread fawning was remarkable. This in Ohio. So the ivyest ivy league school gives you something which I doubt if "signalling" fully describes. There is little formal recognition (amongst the academic cognoscenti) of how our herd behavior tends to push someone into a "leadership" role with little or no justification other than credentials. As I read down thru this thread I've seen credentialing and signalling mentioned but haven't seen anyone talk about the sudden feeling of subservience (for want of a better word) that a "prestigious" degree may elicit. Mythos perhaps.

The credentialing thing is accurate IME but the "networking" thing is mainly a popular Hollywood conceit. Very popular, BTW. People parrot it everywhere.

And Tyler's proposal to expand enrollment dilutes the signal of the credential. He's either innumerate of full of it when he says the elite needs to perpetuate itself and expand.

One can see in the marketplace a devaluation of a Chicago degree every time they trim their common core.

Life is not Lake Woebegone, where everyone is above average.

Sigh, this debate is so pointless. Aside from certain symbolic positions, it's been found public school graduates do surprisingly well, and often beat even Ivy League graduates (25% make even less than public school graduates throughout their careers, surveys have found). For me, the best reward to flunking out of law school (as I did) is to get into the 1% (min net worth $10M). Revenge is sweet, I'm worth more than most if not all of my law school professors (that Contracts teacher I'm not sure about, he was also so aristocratic), but sometimes poor people act snooty as a defense mechanism). Elites don't matter.

Unjust enrichment through connections by the elites is IMO the only reason you, the reader, should be concerned about the Ivy League. But that's also incentive for you to get mad and get even by getting into the 1% through hard work, risk taking, or, as in my case, by happening to have a risk taking family and being in line to inherit the wealth (genetic lottery). Good luck! You'll need it if TC is right about the Great Stagnation.

The ruling nobility co-opts the best of the commoners (who are Asians in the current era) by granting them lesser titles of nobility (admitted to Harvard, but not necessarily to other higher status groups like the Porcellian Club), and being only lesser nobles, their influence on the greater nobles is small.

While I am a little bit confused by the sparse counties story, if Harvard did indeed explicitly use the race checkbox on the SAT to gate recruitment letters, they are guilty.

And of course expanding class size would be good for the country, if possibly bad for Harvard.

"And of course expanding class size would be good for the country"

Actually, no. There's no evidence of any added value in Harvard instruction vs state universities, nor even any evidence that the connections or Harvard brand on a diploma leads to greater lifetime earnings for Harvard undergrads vs equally qualified students who choose to go elsewhere.

It's the 'equally qualified' that misleads people. Of course Harvard grads tend to do better and earn more than median state U students, but they don't do better than elite state U students who were good enough to get into Harvard but decided not to attend.

I think I can take "both of the above" here. Harvard should expand, and state universities should try to improve their value added.

No, you've missed the point. Harvard's value add is not greater than that of a state university. Given that, there would be really no benefit in expanding Harvard.

You are trying to get me to accept a pretty extreme position, with an unqualified "that of a state university." There are good and bad state schools, and when you get to the bad end you are *really* counting on talent to overcome lower quality instruction *and* lower quality network effects.

Let's put it this way -- there's no evidence that Harvard's value add is greater than the kinds of state universities that Harvard-qualified students pick as an alternative. So we'd generally be talking about flagship state schools. But the point remains that there wouldn't be any benefit from enlarging Harvard to enable some students at the margin to matriculate there rather than the best public university available to them.

But, by the same token, we really don't *know* that the value-add at a flagship schools is better than a regional campus. As with Harvard, we know the flagship campus generally gets better-qualified, more ambitious students, but does it actually teach them more? Maybe the instruction is actually better at regional, non-research institutions. This study suggests that non-tenure track faculty are better teachers than tenure-track and tenured professors:

Maybe we shouldn't be surprised that you get better work out of instructors for whom teaching is job #1 rather than job #3.

"So we'd generally be talking about flagship state schools."

Yeah, you could stand to be more specific with this part of your argument. Berkeley, Virginia, Michigan, UCLA and UNC are very different from your average 'State U' and they do tend to 'add value' even to their more middling students' profiles.

I went to a state school. One of my classmates is a US Senator whom I respect. Another, a dear friend, blew open the discussion of gay rights. A third was a Rhodes Scholar who returned home and has worked, not for profit, on green initiatives in our home state to great effect.

Screw the idea of "good" and "bad" state schools. The top is the top across the range. At the lesser institutions the bottom is lower.

That is the only distinction worth making. Otherwise you end up with a bunch of Ivy League people who have stayed on the sidewalks all their lives telling us about innovation.

"Screw the idea of "good" and "bad" state schools."

What, instructor:student ratio and research opportunities are equal across them?

When I referred to the top, I meant the top students. There are high performers at every college, even at second-tier state schools.

What are the lifetime earnings of a Supreme Court Justice? Probably less then an investment banker or even a doctor from State U with a high IQ. But we all understand the SCJ is higher status, higher power, a true elite. The whole supreme court is Ivy League, with Harvard dominating.

Most people who graduate from Harvard don't become elites. But a disproportionate number do. It's fair to say that Harvard (and its equivalents) basically run the country in a way well off State U grads never will.

Do we understand that?

I'll take my present life over Supreme Court justice any day. They can keep their Wikipedia entries. I'll take my wife, daughters and job.

I clerked for an appellate court judge. Probably could have clerked for the USSC. Wasn't at all interested in it after that. Ultimately I wasn't interested in law. I became a profound disappointment for my parents, law professors, and the judges for whom I worked. Fortunately their preferences for my life don't matter.

The piece is about representation in what is considered "the elite" and the fairness in how that elite is selected.

If you have a happy life being a non elite, or a Buddhist monk for that matter, great. You're not really adding anything to the discussion, though.

"What are the lifetime earnings of a Supreme Court Justice?"

You're confusing undergrad with law school. All the Supreme Court justices graduated from Harvard or Yale Law. But they didn't all go to Harvard or Yale for undergrad, and undergrad admissions is what we're discussing (and they're what this case is about).

"But we all understand the SCJ is higher status, higher power, a true elite. "

We do? Higher status and more power than tech billionaires -- many of whom never even finished undergrad or have degrees from state Universities? Who affected the world more, is more widely known, and will be remembered longer, Reed dropout Steve Jobs or Harvard Grad David Souter?

Even when a Zuckerberg drops out, he still dropped out of Harvard, not State U. It's notable that the partners and contacts he needed to start Facebook were also from Harvard and other elite schools.

You seem to want to excuse or rationalize HU's discriminatory policies invoking concepts like elite reproduction and cultural continuity, which are not totally without merit, but I doubt you or anyone at Harvard would accept those as a justification for similar types of racial discrimination in any other context.

Correct. The virtue of breaking the color barrier in baseball was that Jackie Robinson was a phenomenal ball player for any race, and more stood in the wings to follow him. It was strictly business.

Black valedictorians have dozens of choices for excellent schools. It is arrogant for Harvard to believe that Black students not admitted would be consigned to the dustbin.

Try some other scenarios. "Hey neighbors, don't sell your houses to any Asians, please. I want to maintain some cultural continuity in this neighborhood" is not an argument that will get you a sympathetic write-up in Bloomberg.

"Listen guys, we at Morgan Stanley can't let Asians make up more than 20% of each new class of junior bankers, for elite reproduction reasons. You understand, of course."

The terms "elite reproduction" and "cultural continuity" that you and Tyler both use are doublespeak for "white privilege" is it not? Granted the privilege is not extended to all Whites, especially the poor non-New Englander, but the privileged ones are mostly White. You are also saying this is racial discrimination. If so then why isn't anybody on the right going full social justice warrior on liberal white privilege Harvard elites who are using racism against hard working Asian minorities?

Well, it seems Harvard is to some extent discriminating in favor of minority groups other than Asians on the one hand, when it looks at test scores, and then in favor of whites when it comes to legacy applicants. So there's white privilege and non-white privilege, it seems, which muddies the water a bit.

Agreed, I thought this was a weak argument coming from Tyler. A major reason for the Jewish quota of the 1920s is that people who weren't of the right cultural background, "right" meaning Wealthy Anglo-Saxon Protestant scions of privilege like Morgans, Roosevelts, and Vanderbilts, were getting the prestige and access that a Harvard degree afforded them. Part of it was race-related based on the dubious race science of the time, but another part of it was cultural: the idea that "these Jews don't share our American values, we can't have them in the elite" (an attitude that extended to poor people and Catholics as well).

But then again, Tyler seems to like the current cultural status quo, and it certainly benefits him, so it's only natural that he would see such a state as natural and rationally desirable. For others (all Asian applicants and non-special list white applicants), maybe not so much.

First, there are many good substitutes for Harvard.

Next, Harvard depends to a great deal on Federal largesse and the tax code. They are not a purely private institution.

In the past Harvard discriminated against Catholics without much comment.

Affirmative action, as practiced at Harvard, is less about giving opportunities to the oppressed than about finding wealthy minorities that can buy access to a designer jean education. Harvard admitting the children of wealthy approved minorities does little to help a society that leaves too many youths unable to fully compete in the modern world. How is it progressive to lower racial barriers for those who have a substantial checkbook.

Harvard has boosted BS woke classes taught by idiots, as is easily demonstrated when these people come out to speak. Part of the Harvard economic model seems to be admitting a fair number of students into programs that are cheap to operate but of limited value to society. Of course, you have to do something with the slower offspring of generous alumni.

Asian students would be better served by finding institutions that better served their needs and that were less racist than Harvard. And a more equitable distribution of Federal research grants to less racist institutions is, I think, better than expanding Harvard

When I was in college, some friends of mine enlisted my help in driving a wealthy Asian foreign student around town so that he could buy furniture and appliances for his dormitory. I tried to help him choose the products with the best value-for-money, but he wasn't interested. He was under the impression that whatever was priced the highest was of the highest quality; so, that's what he bought.

I don't think all Asians are like my old friend here, but I do think that his attitude reflects one widely held about universities. There will always be wealthy and/or high-performing students who go to Harvard simply because it's expensive and hard to get into. And because so many wealthy and/or high-performing students feel this way, it makes Harvard a place filled with wealthy and/or high-performing students.

So Harvard is the best because everyone thinks Harvard is the best. You can get a better and less discriminatory education elsewhere. But what you can't get is a Harvard education.

Apropos of nothing, he's a social experiment you can do at home: Buy two identical necklaces for your wife, and then place one in a Tiffany's box...

When I lived in Cambridge in the late 70s I was a member of First Parish Unitarian, and one of our members as a young man had worked in Harvard admissions. He told me that Abbot Lawrence Lowell wanted to hold the line against Jews, and that's why they started requiring photos with the application. He said, 'We had a saying: They can change the 'Moses', but they can't change their noses".
So, the leopard has not really changed its spots, here.
My view is that, rather than enlarging Harvard Cambridge as Dr Cowen suggests, the best path is to have all the Ivies set up additional campuses: Harvard-Cambridge will be joined by Harvard-Chillicothe and Harvard-Biloxi, Princeton-Princeton will be joined by Princeton-Spokane and Princeton-Laredo. There's an admission office, you get in, and there is a lottery for which campus you are offered.

That story is total BS. I bet his grandfather told him he couldn't get into the right golf club too.

Black: 15%
Latino: 12%
White: 25%
Jewish: 25%
Asian: 23%

Foreign (Mostly Minority, would be higher if you count first generation citizen): 13%

Scenario A:

Black: 10%
Latino: 10%
White: 25%
Jewish: 25%
Asian: 30%

Foreign: 5%

P.S. It's not even clear that native born minority would go down in this scenario, since so many of those slots are taken by foreign plutocrats with the right skin color.

Scenario B:

Black: 10%
Latino: 10%
White: 25%
Jewish: 20%
Asian: 35%

Foreign: 5%

Scenario C:

Black: 10%
Latino: 10%
White: 25%
Jewish: 15%
Asian: 40%

Foreign: 5%

Scenario D:

Black: 5%
Latino: 5%
White: 25%
Jewish: 25%
Asian: 40%

Foreign: 5%

Lot of ways to make this happen.

It's fascinating how Jews are sometimes considered "white" and sometimes not. What is it that determines which categories we're going to classify people into. I get the distinctness of "black" (although that's probably more fungible than most of us imagine), but if you're going to call out "Jewish" as a special category, why not separate "Muslim" from "Asian" and "Native American" from "Latino" ? These categorizations seem arbitrary and designed to further some rhetorical agenda.

To state the obvious: Because the Joos are conspiring to keep down whitey.

Hispanics are magically revealed to be Caucasians for crime statistics.

The answer to your question is: propaganda and power. This is the toxic nature of identity politics.

Sure, and anybody who doesn't view the Harvard class(*) as 100% human is guilty.

* - or the US population, or the crime statistics

Good. No one has spotted me yet.

And not Caucasians for immigration statistics. Same difference.

In the American context, there objectively is a large "assimilated" White genetic cluster - - "The vast majority of our samples are contained in the third set of clusters, which we label as assimilated immigrant groups. Although these clusters typically feature almost exclusively mixed European ancestry and very low genetic differentiation between one another, they can be distinguished primarily by geographic localization of their ancestral birth locations within the United States."

There's also a genetic cluster of Ashkenazi Jewish individuals - "Despite subsequent admixture following immigration, we found clusters corresponding to Finnish, Scandinavian, Jewish and Irish ancestries—all groups who immigrated to the United States in large numbers within the past 150–200 years"

You'll note that there are other clusters though (e.g. Finnish), but these aren't really interestingly different from the main assimilated cluster, in education traits, or political ideology, so it's not very interesting to break Harvardians down into these clusters (which are also quite small).

I'm not saying this is objectively the right way to break down Harvard students, demographically - indeed there is no right way, no objectively correct level of resolution. But it's certainly a defensible level of analysis, and noteworthy.

Isn't the fact that some "white" clusters are small relative to their percentage of the population noteworthy? I mean, why are there so few Finnish Americans at Harvard? Irish Catholics might also disagree with the statement that they aren't interestingly different. Are irish Catholics underrepresented at Harvard? How would we know?

How do you know that Finnish Americans, etc are underrepresented? These are pretty small clusters compared to the Jewish American cluster, say.

good, but how do you objectively define the boundaries between white and Asian or latino? a DNA test? a document with your lineage?

The only "pure" race people comes from small towns, and the right term is Inbred.

I said a week or two ago:

To get right on this we need to do more than drop political correctness, we need to drop the idea that anyone can or should name their own "race."

If it doesn't make sense, no one including Harvard or the census should pretend it does.

I mean, the alternative is to send in friggin cheek swabs with every college application. I don't think we want that.

When that lady tried to call herself "trans black" we all knew it was bullshit. Ditto Elizabeth Warren calling herself Native American.

I think we all know the common sense definition of race and could call people out on it.

You just identified the nature of your confusion.

there is a difference between naming An ancestry and claiming a racial identity.

Basically ancestry can be real and can be documented by DNA, where as a racial identity is pretty much arbitrary bullshit and not supported by science.

@asdf: where's the common sense in White Hispanic? Just because the grandparents once spoke Spanish white people are less "white".

The boundary between American Indian and Alaska Native is also funny. If you see a gorgeous brunette on the street can your common sense (visual inspection) tell if her ancestors came from Alaska, Chile, Brazil or Quebec?

Speaking of Brazil, what are the whites that their ancestors live for some time in Brazil? Are they just white or a suffix is needed to describe them?

My coworker born in Argentina and raised in the US since age 11 (now married with two kids to an Irish American, whose family has been here since the end of the 19th century) says she is raising her kids as "Argentine-American" with a bilingual and bicultural identity. This seemed strange, no different than white Americans of Irish ancestry who call themselves Irish, because aren't 90+% of Argentine people just a mix of Spanish and Italians, and "white" by any conventional understanding of the term in America? Her kids will just grow up being white Americans who know some Spanish and probably like soccer more than the average American, hardly remarkable. How are they going to be "equally at home in Argentine culture" if they only spend a month in Argentina once every two or three years and the only Argentinian they have regular contact with who isn't their mom is their uncle? Given her political leanings, she just appears desperate not to have her kids be average "privileged" white Americans.

best tyler column i can remember and that's saying a lot.

I agree. Fantastic! Thank you, Tyler Cowen.

The only policy that satisfies both over representation of academically struggling minority groups and fair representation academically superior minority groups is make admissions unfair to the majority.

In the long run, there won't be easily distinguished races anyway, so maybe Harvard can just filibuster until the year 2300 or so.

They can start with low hanging fruit like reducing legacy admits, development cases (that is, rich kids that aren't as academically gifted), and athletics.

They won't 'start' with Legacy admissions. They get large amounts of donations from those. It's a business and those are the paying customers. It's much the same with athletics. The student athletes are basically in paid positions, where the wages are low but the benefits are very high.

Since Asian-Americans have the highest academic scores, any admissions criteria that includes more than academic scores necessarily discriminates against Asian-Americans; thus, Cowen must be arguing that admissions at Harvard should be based solely on academic scores. But Harvard is a business, a very successful business: it's endowment is over $39 billion, the largest of any college or university. On the other hand, there's MIT: it just received a gift of $350 million from Stephen Schwarzman, who didn't even attend MIT (he attended, drum roll, Harvard). MIT's admissions criteria, while not limited to academic scores, doesn't include legacies and athletics to the same degree as does Harvard. It's possible that Harvard's admissions model isn't suited for these times. Maybe it's true that only the smartest deserve admission to elite universities, because only the smartest will produce the highest level of economic growth.

The question isn't what's good for Harvard. It's a mixture of "did they break the law" and "is what's good for Harvard good for the country." The current system fails on both counts, even if we grant some of the justifications Harvard uses in determining its class.

The smart thing would be to re-evaluate the current state of horse trading. Simple examples. Does Harvard NEED over 15% black in order to have representations of blacks. Wouldn't 10% work at getting the next Obama?

Does Harvard NEED to have such a high degree of foreign (mostly plutocrats) students. It's an American university, for PR and patriotic reasons can't it recruit more Americans (this links into minority representation, many minorities aren't America).

Does it need 25% of its student body to be Jewish?

I think when push comes to shove they could shave 5% here and 5% there and find a way to make Asians happy.

The main issue is fear. If Asians become too high a % of Harvard they might stop taking order and start giving them. That is scary. But they have to deal with it. There are billions of them, with high IQs, and a country that will surpass us this century. Give them their place in the sun or get ready for a fight over it.

"Give them their place in the sun or get ready for a fight over it."

Just how disproportionate should the representation be in order to constitute a 'place in the sun'?? Keep in mind that this necessarily causes other groups to be slighted--sometimes dramatically.

If Harvard had been smart about it they would have increased Asian enrollment 1-2% a year over a longer period and ended up somewhere between 30-40%. They would have been more in the drivers seat.

Asians program your computers. Engineer your machines. Heal you when you get sick. Manufacture your goods. Fund your proligate government.

What do blacks add? Rap music and some swing state votes? Maybe it’s time to get real on what’s absolutely necessary when push comes to shove.

Athletics helped me get into MIT. I know I didn't have top grades or overall scores...I did have (MIT-average) math scores though.

I am grateful they let me in. However, I don't think any system is perfectly fair. I'm sure if I had Jewish parents that valued academics as much as my alcoholic -alabama cultured dad valued football...I could have upped my GPA and reading scores a bit.

Professor Cowen writes, "I readily admit that raising class size will lower academic standards for faculty tenure."

How can this possibly be true? The much bigger issue is building out the student housing infrastructure to deal with the increased number of students than increasing faculty. Using the wonderful Internet as a resource, I count over 60 faculty members in the Harvard University Econ Department. I'm sure there are enough faculty to handle would would likely be a modest increase in student numbers.

In contrast, Professor Cowen's university has many more students and only half the faculty as Harvard. I wonder if GMU has lowered their tenure track standards because of this disparity?

Of course GMU has substantially lower tenure standards than Harvard, at least in Economics. If Harvard imposes a higher teaching requirement, some faculty (most research focused) might leave for MIT, Stanford, or Princeton.

If it keeps teaching requirements the same, Harvard can hire more TE lines (which should reduce quality at the margin) or more NTE faculty (changes the model of the university) or more graduate students (higher workload for faculty in advising).

Does the US Senate use a Sparse Counties method to skew representation against minorities?

Would the same people who hate on Harvard support revamping the Senate for the same reason?

Perhaps the dumbest comment ever. When the US Senate was created in 1789, no one imagined that blacks would vote or Asians live in the country so it had nothing to do with oppressing minorities.

Harvard, on the other hand, explicitly designs its admission schemes to discriminate in favor of and against groups that it wants more or less of.

lol, if I am only wrong because of temporal inconsistency, I might be right!

Yet another example, out of the countless ones before, where you never just admit your wrong.

Or I might just have to patiently accept that you have still missed my meaning.

You aren't patient so that seems implausible. Your habit of always trying to get the last word and often posting twice in a row are clear indicators of impatience. Furthermore, if you had any deep meaning you would have shared it.

It's not embarrassing to admit you are wrong when you obviously are, but it is profoundly embarrassing to refuse to admit it. Or to claim some deeper meaning to your comments that no one but you truly understands.

The sparse counties issue is *not* that recruiting from sparse counties increases white enrollment because those counties have lots of whites. The issue is that Harvard recruits whites from sparse counties but not Asians *from sparse counties* (with the same PSAT scores). Minorities' senate votes in sparse counties count the same as whites' senate votes from sparse counties.

Right, as I say above if they do that they are guilty.

But it seems to also say that it stems from an earlier program of using Geographic diversity to achieve a certain racial balance.

The 3/5ths clause for representation in the House is a more apt comparison for Harvard's scheme.

This is a situation where ideally I’d say some other elite school should take race out of admissions and see if over time they can out compete Harvard - perhaps someone is, though I won’t hold my breath for any US schools to do it.

To me the only scandal here is that they evidently do this indirectly through personality scores, which to me introduces something that’s patently untrue into the admissions process. Would it be so bad to let colleges set their own admissions policies, so long as they publish exactly what those policies are?

"We don't want Asians to get over 20%."

It's both illegal and a PR disaster. There is a reason Harvard is deny, deny, deny.

Personality scores are just the X variable necessary to get to 20%. If you eliminate them, but still let Harvard target 20%, they will find a new X variable.

Precisely, and by what I proposed what they are doing would be clearly (opposed to ambiguously) illegal, but only because it’s misleading. If they wanted to do this, they could do it outright and accept the PR disaster.

Quotas would be even more illegal if stated publically.

California public universities, including Berkeley and UCLA, have not been allowed to consider race in admissions for about 20 years. Same for Michigan public universities, including Univ. of Michigan, for about 10 years.

For race-conscious admissions to be legal, the university must be employing the *most narrowly tailored* measures possible to achieve the ostensible objective of gaining educational benefits through diversity. Unless one can show that educational quality at Berkeley and Michigan have deteriorated over the last 10-20 years, it would seem to argue against the notion that Harvard's use of race is truly the most narrowly tailored measure possible. If Berkeley and Michigan are able to expose students to diverse viewpoints and prepare graduates to work in diverse environments without considering race in admissions, then why can't Harvard?

I don't know whether anyone has asked this question yet. People have looked at Black and Hispanic enrollment and graduation rates at Berkeley and Michigan, but I have not seen anyone claim that educational quality at these institutions have declined as a result of ending race-conscious admissions. I also am unaware of any employers that have stopped hiring Michigan and Berkeley grads out of concern that those graduates are unprepared to work in diverse work environments.

It's a clever line of reasoning. Might pay to get the dean of UCLA up there and accuse him of graduating a bunch of underprepared bigots.

What's the measurement variable for "out competing", here? Added value, total outcomes? In what?

Start with competitiveness/exclusivity of incoming students, since that’s where it begins. Over time I think they’d try to show they produce better average graduates and reap the corresponding boost in reputation and the other sorts of things schools are ranked on.

Would it be so bad to let colleges set their own admissions policies, so long as they publish exactly what those policies are?

Colleges already can, if they're willing to give up federal funding (including Federally-backed student loans) and the opportunity for donors to deduct contributions to a college from their taxes.

If that isn't good enough, well, you go ahead and propose the repeal of those rules where the establishment will hear you. I'll sit back and measure how far your head bounces from your neck.

I don’t know, I sort of think I could win over the guy at the top of said establishment.

Duly noted that it isn’t easy to change a legislative creature backed by a body of judicial interpretation. However, I’ll decline to accept that as a reason to refrain from offering policy suggestions.

Ways Harvard will get around this, even if they lose.

1) Personality Scores will be made illegal, but they will come up with some other way to get to 20%.

2) Harvard will increase its Asian %, but it will be from compliant low IQ "Asians" that hit the census definition but can be counted on to behave as clients like blacks. High IQ East Asians won't be given more slots.

3) High IQ Indians will be recruited more but the East Asians/Chinese will be shut out. A message will be sent that they shouldn't have crossed Harvard.

4) They will recruit more East Asians, but will double down to make sure that every single one of them are selected for progressive bonafides and lack of loyalty to their own people.

5) They will accept some dumb Asians to say that the average SAT score of Asian admits is not equal to whites. This can loop into #2.

You appear to be seriously paranoid.

I don't think they would be vindictive to that extreme. Ultimately this is about identity politics. As such, it's not a fight to the death but merely a way of scoring points.

Increasing class size is a shockingly craven way to seek compromise in what is otherwise a pointed article calling out an evil practice. It covers up for and excuses the practice.

There is one (and only one) moral and ethical means to increase Black enrollment in Harvard (or any other exclusive institution): to create more Blacks who are worthy of being there.

Affirmative action in all its pitiful guises disincentivizes this effort. Why the hell should a Black student rise to meet this lofty goal if guilty whites are going to lower the bar for them?

"No need to fight over me," says Lady Jessica in her witch's voice leading one Harkonnen to stab the other with a poison blade.

Set high standards for Black students. Don't give them racebaiting excuses for failure or mediocrity. Teach them the wisdom to accept that they won't reach the pinnacle of achievement in a single generation.

Most importantly, don't engage in the soft bigotry of low expectations. Let failure prick them.

Neo-Nazis quoting teen sci-fi on the Internet is a good summary of the 2010s, yes.

Neo-nazis accusing others of being neo-nazis on the Internet is a good summary of the 2010s, yes

Blacks put Obama (Harvard grad) in the White House. They vote 90% Dem and are located in swing states. It's no surprise that power mad Harvard wants their support.

The question is do you need 15% of your class to be black to do that. Probably not.

"Blacks put Obama (Harvard grad) in the White House. They vote 90% Dem and are located in swing states."

Blacks would have voted for the Democratic nominee at high rates regardless of who that was. And the differential between their support for Barack Obama and their support for Bill Clinton (for example) wasn't large enough to cover the difference.

I attended Harvard (for my doctorate in economics), and most of the people there are as well-meaning as any you might find in Idaho or West Virginia.

Of course, you spend no time in either locale. If you fancy faculty and administration in higher education are systemically 'well-meaning', I'm vending a few bridges.

The only solution is a complete shut down of the Ivy League colleges.

Think of the stroke against inequality in this country.

Here's a suggestion for legislation governing private higher education, Harvard included:

1. Billing and quotes must be according to a stereotyped format, for the sake of transparency.

2. Stock-and-flow data on students, faculty, miscellaneous employees must be published annually. These must include the breakdown according to coarse demographic categories and (in re the students) the board scores of the students among those coarse demographic categories. Such statements will have to be audited and the corporation and particular officials subject to criminal prosecution and fines for lying.

3. All federal student aid for those attending will be eliminated and the protection in bankruptcy proceedings for the purveyors of student loans scaled back.

4. All grant money to said institution and to faculty at said institution will be eliminated.

5. Federal regulation of said institutions will be limited to ERISA, the obligations of the institution as employer in re to tax withholding, some spare obligations under federal labor law; some health-and-safety regulations in re visiting sports teams, transporting students across state lines, and handling certain materials; and the aforementioned regulations on transparency to prospective students and prospective employees.

Let the do as they please. Just take away their public money teat and make them fess up.

addendum: anti-trust enforcement applicable in full to higher ed as well.

Why doesn't the Asian community create a group of ultra-elite colleges that only accepts students with the very highest academic scores, to out-harvard Harvard?

Already happening:

"Meanwhile, Asian Americans continue to make up the largest portion of California students admitted to UC Berkeley at 42.3 percent. White resident students, the second-largest group, make up 28.4 percent.Apr 21, 2014"

If the "fans of meritocracy"(*) are right, the UC system wins, and California rules the world!

* - if they are that, and not just playing white identity politics by proxy

Indeed. From the other thread yesterday (?) compare Stanford and UC Berkeley.

Anti-racism is now framed as white identity politics. Gotta love it.

One of the two groups supports not letting a minority go to school because their skin is the wrong color.

And you are a part of the group defending the legacy of antisemitism and blatant racism.

It’s not hard, try it: Say “racially discriminating against minorities is morally wrong. In business, in government, in housing and in admissions to Harvard.”

To repeat myself, I think 100% human classes are to be supported, and the UC system does that pretty well.

Harvard's system is confused, very confused, and so are the claims that you can somehow do 30% Legacy and compensation for race in 70% of the remainder and come out neutral.

That just doesn't work.

And others words, when I said the UC system is better you should have understood that as my real answer.

The Harvard system is just varying degrees of bullshit. As Tyler says, to preserve some vision of elite identity.

And yet you refuse to condemn it.

Your real answer is silence, and it is deafening.

Try it: "Racial minorities should not be refused admission to Harvard due to their skin color."

It ain't hard.

That's crazy. I have already said twice on this page that if they are doing an explicit racial discrimination that is wrong and illegal.

anonymous is one of the most ideological posters here. He's never going to go that far.

" if they are doing an explicit racial discrimination that is wrong and illegal."

This is the closest you can reasonably expect him to admitting racism from his 'tribe'.

If we have reached the stage where you must attack me as a person, an anonymous person, surely you have given up on all rational conversation.

I mean it is crazy, I prefer the UC system, I say on this page that I don't believe in race at all and that it shouldn't be used, but you squeeze out some meaning that is completely opposite?

And then attack me for that?

and lol no, I am not "Harvard tribe."

it is preposterous tribalism on your part to think I am

Fine, Then you are willing to admit that the preponderance of the evidence indicates that Harvard admission policies are discriminatory against Asians and are therefore racist?

See that's the crazy thing about your demand. I can say "The Harvard system is just varying degrees of bullshit" and you aren't happy.

You want a very specific form of agreement, one that I can't give.

I don't think the numbers imply that within all their other bullshit, Harvard is specifically discriminating against Asians.

It's more general. They are all screwed up, and they will be until they move to straight merit for the whole class, with race prohibited from consideration.

"I don't think the numbers imply that within all their other bullshit, Harvard is specifically discriminating against Asians."

You've been presented with the evidence that they actively recruited based upon race with Asians having a higher bar and thus clearly discriminatory.

Black, Hispanic, and Native American students: 1100.
White students: 1310.
Asian students: 1380.

That's blatantly discriminatory and blatantly racist.

"and lol no, I am not "Harvard tribe.""

Yes you are.

anonymous from 3:28 am: "As opposed to the compelling argument "Harvard should have even more Asians, because liberals are bad?""

what a buffoon.

We can't tell if it's discriminatory and blatantly racist because we don't know what other factors go into admission and how it differs between what people want to study.

Suppose every Asian applying to Harvard only wants to do comp sci and noone else does then they are competing against other Asians to get into that course - they could all get perfect scores on the tests but some of them are going to miss out on getting in. However, the scores necessary for English Lit, pre-law aren't going to change.

Overall it looks like Asians are discriminated against but within subject they aren't. It's a variation on Simpson's Pardox - what happens at the group level can be the opposite of what's happening overall.

"Suppose every Asian applying to Harvard only wants to do comp sci .."

That sounds amazingly stereotypical. And it's extremely unlikely to have any basis in fact. Harvard is best in class. It get applicants from across the country.

"Overall it looks like Asians are discriminated against but within subject they aren't."

Do you have any evidence for this?

I made a toy example to make the point clear. I could have chosen any subject area to make the point however comp sci was relevant because I posted elsewhere on this thread that Asian people make up 59% of people in the comp sci concentration.

Of course, I don't have evidence for this because I would need access to data that Harvard hold. The point is that quoting scores across the entire school doesn't prove that Harvard is racist - there could be things going on at a lower level that interact with ethnicity.

As usual, everything is way more complicated then simple sound bites allow.

The only reason California banned affirmative action is because the voters passed a proposition back in the 1990s, not because the politicians or the educrats supported it, and as with the elimination bilingual education, it can easily be reversed.

Suppose you want kids for the pre-law program and one kid has a perfect maths SAT score and another kid has a slightly lower maths SAT score but was on the winning team in the World Schools Debating Championships? Who do you choose? If it's the latter and it turns out the first kid was Asian and the second kid wasn't, is the admissions policy unfair to Asians?

It's quite clear that maths-sat/act is important for STEM/medicine but is it as important for other subjects? And if one group of people disproportionately enrol into courses where maths-sat/act scores are more important to getting admitted then that group will look discriminated against overall if only the overall rates of admission are considered. For subject specific rates, the rates of admission between ethnicities may align.

Thankfully, that’s not what’s happening.

Asians score higher than whites and minorities on both tests, grades, AND extracurriculars.

To make sure yellows don’t get too common, Harvard alleges they have terrible personalities.

Of course, the alumni interviews rate Asians as having just as good personalities as whites.

So they throw away the alumni interviews and divine “personality score” from.....whatever they need to ensure yellows don’t get too common.

The fact that liberals are defending racial quotas to discriminate against a minority is the most mind-boggling inanity of the progressives of 2018.

Sometimes it’s a denial, and at other times it’s our resident poet Bill spouting off about how yellows are gross and awkward.

Usually I can pass the Turing test and even if I disagree I understand where liberals are coming from. I understand their moral view and how they get from moral A to position B.

This...i don’t get it at all. Why do the polar bears/anons defend racial quotas?? Why are you not equally outraged with telling a kid “no, you don’t deserve to be here because your skin is the wrong color.”

You really don't see Harvard's position? There are already far more Asians there than their population percentage, but without some help there would hardly any black or Hispanic kids. They want to give those groups a leg up for historical racism reasons.

Switching to socio-economic AA would be much less problematic and accomplish basically the same thing.

You really don't see Harvard's position

Sure, I see it. Their reasoning is inane and dishonest, as yours is invariably.


I agree with you the majority of the time, and I think you are a reasonable dude in general even when I disagree.

On this, I strongly disagree. They could easily let in 'underrepresented minorities' and not have a yellow quota. You could carve out 15% for African Americans and not tell Asian kids their personalities are terrible.

This is a modern version of the 'Jew Quota' and 'noses not Moses' bullshit that every American with a sense of justice should be aghast at.

Carve out a percentage for African Americans and don't blatantly discriminate against Asians. For the life of me I don't get why this is even a thing.

I agree you shouldn't discriminate against Asians but by definition if you have an African American quota like you propose (illegal by the way) then by definition some AA's are getting in with credentials inferior to another race. That race is going to be Asian (and sometimes white). That's how it works right now.

If we go to socioeconomic affirmative action like I (and many others) propose, you give poor kids a leg up not because they are black but because they are poor (which is often because they are black). Even poor Asians would benefit. Losers: rich Asians, whites, even blacks.

Pretty sure whites would clean up in such a system

Re: Economic disparities. Actually a study at Berkeley I believe showed that if AA were replaced with a focus on economic disparities non-Asian minorities would do much worse. This is because on average, the lowest quintile (for example) of Asian-Americans in California score higher than the top quarter of blacks on the SAT math.

This is a problem with socio-economic; migrants will be less established and do more poorly in initial socio-economic (then reach a peak of doing better than test scores, after the migrant drive allows them to get wealthy, but before they get complacent or suburbanised).

So really what you want to look at is the three generational rank of where they are in society, if you really want to help people who have been entrenched in underprivilege.

But who is going to be able to calculate that all those Chinese really were upper-middle in the society that they came from, and all those Chinese are not going to have an incentive to tell the truth to administrators about it.... They're not going to openly admit to their privilege, if it's going to do bad things to their chance of getting in. So it's absolutely a non-starter.

This is accurate, but it would ruin Tyler's "cultural and elite replication" scheme. There would be a lot more poor people at Harvard, and consequently probably more people from religiously or socially conservative backgrounds, which would likely generate political conflict on campus. It also would probably decrease the number of upper-middle and middle-class Asians (South Asians, Koreans, and older Chinese groups like Cantonese) in favor of poorer Asians (Vietnamese, Hmong, Cambodian, more recent Chinese immigrants, and Filipinos). Likewise, we'd probably have more of what Thomas Sowell called "urban blacks", who in most cases are the actual descendants of slaves (and the intended beneficiaries of AA), and less Caribbean/African blacks.

It would also completely destroy the value of sending your kids to an elite prep school for high school: their entire model is "we will send your kids to the Ivy League at best, and an elite SLAC or Top 25 research university at worst".

They already do try to bring in poorer kids from the sticks. And you would still have to be among the smartest and most presentable of the poor kids (of every race) to make it. Then you mix with the elites and become elite. What's the downside? Besides destroying the value of elite prep schools (which I both do not care about nor think would happen).

"And you would still have to be among the smartest"

Yes to this.

"and most presentable of the poor kids"

This is where you're wrong. Part of being poor, whether an Appalachian white person or a South Side of Chicago black person, is that you probably are not very polished in terms of your social and cultural sensitivities and your manner of dress and speech. In small numbers, people like this can contribute to "diversity" and be readily assimilated; in larger numbers, they will hang together and produce a cultural clash. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, the mores of the elite universities could probably use a challenge from the children of the underprivileged, but it would change the character of the school and lead to some divisions. Obviously the truly "unpresentable" will not make it in and probably weren't smart enough anyway, but absent some type of personal vetting beyond alumni interviews, there is no way to know how polished someone is in terms of their elite sensitivities.

I don't think we are disagreeing here. You would still have to apply and be interviewed. THe smartest and most presentable poor kids would be chosen, and given a boost vs equally smart or smarter rich kids. And you would still get more blacks and Latinos (and poor Asians!) than if you gave no boost for race or poverty. Seems like a better system than basing it on race, less divisive, and I don't see a downside.

The poster named Sure makes a good point, it's a shame there's this positional arms race to study up for tests to get into there elite schools, but it's sort of always been like this even back to Chinese bureaucracy exams and so on.

No, I really don't see how Harvard can justify giving whites a leg up over Asians because of other discriminated-against minorities.

Let's specifically look at the "sparse country" recruitment letters. In order to get such a letter from Harvard, one must score on the PSAT as follows:

Black, Hispanic, and Native American students: 1100.
White students: 1310.
Asian students: 1380.

Explain, please, how the blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans benefit from Asians being held to a higher standard than the standard for whites, and would not do just as well if not better if "sparse country" whites were held to the same 1380 standard for recruitment letters as Asians.

Whites are already a pretty low % of Harvard. It would be hard to make them any lower, so at least some of that extra Asian % would no doubt have to come from minorities.

More importantly, Asians don't have white guilt. If Harvard was 40% Asian it would be a Harvard that was immune to black grievance peddling. That's a threat to black interests.

On this page, a young woman went about finding out the ethnicity of people doing the comp. sci. concentration at Harvard. She found that "the majority of Harvard CS concentrators are Asian (53%), followed by White (39%), Hispanic (5%) and Blacks (3%)".
(Her investigation was pragmatic rather than scientific)

There is not a uniform distribution of Asian people within concentration. It would be interesting to know the scores for people within that concentration by ethnicity - and compared to other concentrations. Because within concentration it could be fair but because of the unequal distribution of ethnicities within concentration and required scores for those concentrations it could give the appearance, overall, as unfair.

Elites? I would call that a vocal victimist faction that nonetheless gets too many concesions due to their threats.

True elites remain silent and rather focus on making money, raising a family or chasing young ladies.

So... less international students then?

Why can't the elite replicate itself the old-fashioned way, by having babies?

You are really not talking about the elite replicating itself. You are talking about an aristocracy, or an oligarchy, that wants to stay in power. It is doing a good job holding onto power.

Every Supreme Court justice, liberal or conservative, has a law degree from Harvard or Yale.

Presidents? Bush #1, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Bush #2, Obama, Romney, JFK, FDR: all Harvard or Yale or both. Men like Reagan or Nixon who did not have Harvard/Yale degrees are held in contempt. Even Trump's Wharton degree is not good enough.

How about honesty. The undergraduate programs at Harvard and Yale are finishing schools for the upper classes, and its graduates will rule. The graduate programs are for the technocrats who will be hired by the oligarchs, so it is no surprise that they are apologists for the caste system.

Here is something to think about: the election is Trump is about a populace that is tired of being ruled by the Harvard-Yale Brahmans, a revolt against the elites.

Right.. Show your revolutionary spirit by electing an Ivy League legacy who inherited his money from his dad. That's truly revolutionary, believe me!

ow your revolutionary spirit by electing an Ivy League legacy

His father never attended college. His uncle cadged a graduate degree from Columbia, which isn't going to benefit you applying to Penn. You people cannot stop lying.

Isn't lying a big part of #MAGA?

You're right. His kids are the legacy admissions. I still maintain electing a New York "billionaire" is really stretching the whole anti elite thing.

I'm sure, graduating cum laude, she would not have gotten in if it weren't for her father.

You're right. His kids are the legacy admissions.

Yeah, and you've seen their applications and compared their grades and test scores to the medians of their incoming classes.

"Every Supreme Court justice, liberal or conservative, has a law degree from Harvard or Yale. "

If these people are so tired of elites why did put yet another Yale man on the Supreme Court? Similarly if they hate Ivy League coastal billionaires, why did they vote for Trump? Are these people that stupid?

"Are these people that stupid?"

Oh man, way too easy.

Does it occur to you geniuses that "these people" aren't the ones who appoint Supreme Court justices? Or perhaps that Trump's opponent in the presidential election was a very rich person with a JD from Yale??

Naah, much easier to feel smug.

This case is not about Harvard's legacy admissions to replicate itself and the disparate impact of those efforts on Asians. That doesn't explain differences between non-legacy whites and non-legacy Asians. The apparent fudging of Asians' "friendliness" scores is separate and distinct from plus-scores added to legacies and athletes. Similarly, the sparse counties issue is not about disparate impact. It's about different treatment between Asians and whites that are *both* from sparse counties.

Harvard's *defense* is to say that they consider all sorts of (legal) factors (legacies, diversity, sparse counties, etc.), it's all very confusing, and who knows how much each factor contributes. That's all to make it difficult for plaintiffs to prove that race is a factor when considering whites vs. Asians. The friendliness scores and the sparse counties issues are evidence against the claim that discrepancies between Asians and whites result from inadvertent disparate impact of otherwise legal factors.

It's not necessarily the case, however, that anti-Asian discrimination is motivated by anti-Asian animus. Rather, the discrimination could instead reflect a culture of acting in bad faith to achieve racial balancing. Perhaps, Harvard genuinely wants to make its classes "look more like America", meaning having a racial composition that more closely matches that of the general population. Perhaps, Harvard is also motivated by a desire to address past and present social inequities against Blacks and Latinos. Many people share those goals. Those goals, however, happen to be illegal. Harvard is not allowed to do racial balancing. It can only consider race to achieve a "critical mass" of Blacks and Latinos for purposes of obtaining educational benefits (for all students) from diversity. Perhaps, Harvard has grown accustomed to trying to achieve racial balancing for Blacks and Latinos by disingenuously labeling those efforts as diversity measures. Then, it may have overlooked the fact that racial balancing between whites and Asians would have no diversity rationale as a cover (because Harvard already has a "critical mass" of whites and Asians). It's similar to the way Congress has grown accustomed to justifying its power to pass every law by pointing to the commerce clause. Occasionally, even the commerce clause doesn't apply. Harvard might have forgotten or didn't realize that not every instance of racial balancing could be justified in the name of diversity.

Righting past wrongs was rejected by the Supreme Court. Also, if that was Harvards goal they would use these limited black slots for African Americans, not a bunch of foreign oligarchs kids.

I think Asians don't believe that diversity = educational benefits. Not enough to justify their 20% cap. I don't think anyone really believes that diversity = educational benefits. It was just something made up to keep AA going via sleight of hand.

Heck, the judges who wrote that opinion were so embarrassed by it they placed a 25 year limit on how long it was supposed to apply. That was 15 years ago. Only 10 more to go (yes, we all know they will try to wiggle out then).

The real reason for a critical mass of minorities is to ensure their allegiance at the voting booth and to have ambassadors to shape them culturally and economically in Harvards interests. Ditto on why they recruit so many foreign oligarchs kids. None of this is in Americas interests.

They cap Asians at 20% so they remain servants and not leaders.

Things is the white % is already way lower than the population and the smart fraction population. Especially when you spike out Jews from whites, but even before that. How low a % of whites do you want at Harvard when they are a majority of the country? Are we in danger of not even having a critical mass of people from the countries primary ethnic group.

"they recruit so many foreign oligarchs kids. None of this is in Americas interests."

This is where you are wrong. By getting these soon-to-be world leaders young, Harvard teaches them a thing or two about how things are done in America and you bet your a$$ that it is in America's interest. Its an extremely cheap way to spread American influence. Whether these foreign oligarchs are good people, that's a different matter.

America’s interest or Harvard’s interest. They aren’t the same thing. What is good for Harvard isn’t good for most Americans.

You further know its about the 20% cap because its a cap you see throughout elite northeast private schools from kindergarten up.

It also doesn't help that progressives decided to go after all the elite public magnet schools full of Asians.

Shout this from the house top, every person doing high level hiring knows an Asian with degree from U Michigan has jumped as high a hurdle as a black Ivy grad and the more prestigious diploma doesn't do much for you and the Asian gets to spend less money on it. Win, win, win. So we should stop whining about it.

Harvard is bad for the country. It sells a positional good. In order to get in it requires massive amounts of resources to be wasted towards threading its needles. Think about all the social capital that goes into getting a child on the periphery of the elite into the school. Imagine if the palms being greased weren't just doling out slots into the upper crust of society, but were maybe making the FDA more optimal in their risk-benefit calculations. Or if instead of having rich kids "volunteer" to "serve" overseas we just donated the money directly to mosquito nets or paying local doctors to work in rural areas.

We have literally corrupted a vast amount of the pre-college education in the country towards fighting for positional resources rather than acquiring generally useful skills. We have literally corrupted the entire incentive structure for academic research and publishing in order to play similar games with making it to Harvard.

The country would be far better served if we liquidated the whole place and stopped the elite from saying that their educational credentials demonstrate their merit to run society.

The part of Harvard I know is their medical school. I have seen pretty close to a million dollars go up in smoke as students have tried to gin up higher USMLE test scores, impressive citation chains, and dubious "service" all to get into Harvard's medical complex.

Yeah, its obviously bad that Harvard is point blank discriminatory to magically get a quota controlled student body. It is much, much worse that the race for Harvard burns enough resources to save a few million QALYs.


A lot of sturm & drang. Get rid of Harvard, and you still have Stanford, Yale, Princeton, etc etc. They're not so different, and they'd happily step into the breach.

Would they? Watching Harvard get liquidated might possibly induce some change in their policies methinks.

In any event, yes the problem is the system. We desperately want a meritocracy that is also heritable, so we lavish prestige on certain college graduates and then those colleges create a massively warped incentive structure. All without adding terribly much in the way of value.

Whatever metric Harvard ends up using to choose the next generation of elites (and Princeton, etc.) the truth is that there will always be too many people and any fair metric is going to be within the margin of error for the vast bulk of applicants.

I know nothing will happen, Harvard is protected by the powerful and society likes the fudge that the scions of donors somehow merit their position due to their educations.

Nonetheless it is plainly obvious that every man-hour people waste gaming admissions procedures is a true dead weight loss to society. We really should seek to minimize those.

How dare those elites talk about African-American issues in a country where young black men can seemingly be gunned down by cops at their leisure.

Any honest person knows that's not true and police shootings have nothing to do with race. Any honest person knows how shitty it is to bring up some unrelated racial political controversy when people are trying to address a serious issue of racial discrimination and injustice

"Let's make up for poor black guys getting shot by the police by letting in greater numbers of rich and comfortable black boys and girls! It'll all come out in the wash!"

TC implies that the continuation of the Ive League elites is a necessary part of the cultural continuation of America.

But it is at least as plausible to say that the Ivy League elites are at the vanguard of dismantling cultural traditions of an America.

Group AA enters at 14% but race-blind qualification would only allow 7% to enter. Seems obvious to me that to continue to get all that extra 7% in, once race-blind criteria were implemented, then the entering class size would be doubled. This is just stupid. Anyone who believes doubling the size of any group of students won't lead to dramatic and unintended changes in the quality of the education is wildly optimistic.

Much enjoyed the movie "The Spy Who Dumped Me" where one of the two MI6 agents (the American) kept name dropping his Harvard education at every opportunity, irritating his Brit colleague to no end. It was pretty funny.

> If the "fans of meritocracy"(*) are right, the UC system wins, and California rules the world!

NatureIndex WFC

The attraction of Harvard for AsianAmericans is because Harvard is the top global STEM university. However, from the WFC metric from, an off-shoot of one of the top science journal "Nature", Harvard is dropping fast from that position while Stanford is steadily gaining and might overtake Harvard in less than 3 years and be the top global STEM university in about 8 years if the trends continue (with may be the German temporarily taking the lead by default). When that happen, the attraction of Harvard to AsianAmerican might be reduced with the focus shifts to Stanford.

In about three years the AsianAmericans might view the current Harvard saga as a storm in a tea cup.

Harvard is not the top global STEM university. Not by a long shot. MIT, CMU, Stanford, UC Berkekey, not to mention other Ivies like Princeton and Cornell are better.

It seems for some reasons Cal Tech is often forgotten.

Here is the distinguished Harold Bloom of Yale interviewed in 2004 by Ieva Lesinska of Eurozine. (

"I teach my classes at Yale and what cheers me up are my Asian American students – about half of the students who take my classes are Asian Americans. What in my generation the Jews were – the intelligentsia – these people are becoming. The Jews in this country are now so assimilated that looking at their score cards I could not tell the difference between my Gentile and my Jewish students. The Asian Americans are the new Jews – they are the ones who study hard, they have a real passion, a real drive to understand."

His view seems to go against many of the stereotypes repeated in comments about this issue here at MR.

Bloom, English department, 2004. You'd think we'd see some pop culture bleed over of Asian American English lit successes or critical genius after almost a generation since. Instead, Sarah Jeong (go University of California! Go Berkeley! Go Asian-American Harvard Law School!).

Harvard is harder for Asians to get into for exact the same reason it's easier for blacks: because the university values having a representative sample of the American racial makeup in it and so they make it harder for races with above average performance to get in and easier for races with below average performance to get it. What is controversial about that?

If Harvard were to stop gorging at the public trough (which it could afford to do), Harvard would be free to be as racist as it liked, but because it won't do that, it is bound by antidiscrimination law, and therefore lies to cover up its racism.

Everyone is bound by anti discrimination laws. You can’t start a entirely private school and say there is an Asian quota.

Were Harvard to give up its tax exempt status and revert to its original religious sectarian character (its current secular dogma isn't sufficient), then it would be free to do as it pleases, including being able to be as racist as they liked.

If you wanted to look more like America you wouldn’t give away minority slots to foreign oligarchs and have very few conservative Christians.

Look, let’s get real. Blacks are 12% of the population and like 1% of the high IQ population. But they are 15% of Harvard. Come on! Blacks could easily go to 5-10% and make room for Asians.

Less than one in four students at Harvard come from the bottom 60% of the income distribution. Truly minute amounts come from poor areas or have served in the military. Harvard is one those places filled with wealthy people who like to pretend they are being representative because they have the right shades of melanin present. In reality you would be hard pressed to find a place less representative of America than Harvard.

Even on the racial front, Harvard actually has terrible representation stats once you start going for within-ethnic variation. Somehow the rich nationalities (e.g. Cubans) end up over-represented compared to their poorer co-ethnics (e.g. Hondurans).

". What is controversial about that?"

Race based quotas are illegal for entities that take government money, which Harvard does. So, what's controversial is that they've implemented a complex system to obscure their quota system. And it's being legally challenged.

You mention social injustice against Latinos. I would appreciate clarification over which injustices you are referring to. Are you talking about Caucasians from Brazil or Argentina? Cuban Americans? Some other group?

I don't really understand the assumptions underlying the arguments in this column. What elite are we talking about, exactly? What are they trying to reproduce, allegedly? I'm guessing the composition of Harvard's student body looks nothing like it did 50 years ago, and is probably significantly different from the student body even 25 years ago.

If we're talking about some kind of reproduction of culture or ideas, I'm not sure how you even begin to do that at the undergraduate level. In my experience, most Harvard enrollees are the same as teenagers throughout America, except maybe they're better at getting their homework done.

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