Text

Physicist, Startup Founder, Blogger, Dad

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fears of an Asian Quota in the Ivy League

NYTimes Room for Debate.
Fears of an Asian Quota in the Ivy League

Determined to use educational opportunities as a road to advancement, Asian-Americans have won a disproportionate number of spots at top high schools and colleges that base admission on objective standards. But some have questioned how affirmative action programs might hurt their chances for admission, or say that the most competitive schools do not want to have too many Asian students.

Are top colleges deliberately limiting the number of Asian-Americans they admit?
Only one side in this debate uses numbers and statistics. You can guess which that is.

Debate rule #1: always pay close attention to what the physicist says. There are two in this debate, Ron Unz and S.B. Woo.
S.B. Woo, a physicist and former lieutenant governor of Delaware, was the founding president of the 80-20 National Asian American Educational Foundation, which filed an amicus brief, supporting race-neutral admissions, in the Supreme Court case Fisher v. University of Texas.

Top colleges are clearly limiting the number of Asians they admit, and what’s at stake for America is of more importance than just the number of Asians going to Harvard.

The Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade wrote in his 2009 book, "No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life,'' that “to receive equal consideration by elite colleges, Asian Americans must outperform Whites by 140 points, Hispanics by 280 points, Blacks by 450 points in SAT (Total 1600)." As Ron Unz demonstrates, the percentage of Asians among the student bodies of Ivy League schools has been a steady 17 percent, give or take a couple of points, for about 20 years.

The value of equal opportunity is being trampled. The creditability of elite colleges suffers. Meritocracy is compromised. This clearly shows that these colleges set a quota for Asian students.

The percentage of Asian students at the California Institute of Technology, which uses a "race-neutral" admission policy, has roughly followed the proportion of college-age Asians in the general population.

And it’s not just a matter of Asian-Americans doing well on tests. In 2006, they were 27 percent of Presidential Scholars, who were chosen based on scholarship, service, leadership and creativity.

This all demonstrates that top colleges have a "merits-be-damned" approach to limit the number of Asian students. They did that once before -- against Jewish students about a century ago.

America's core value of equal opportunity is being trampled. The 14th Amendment on equal protection is trampled upon. America and Asian American students suffer.

The creditability of elite colleges suffers. The administrators of these colleges may be steadfast in their righteous posturing. But as the truth emerges, fewer people are with them; more are shaking their heads and chuckling at their facade. The meritocracy of the American culture is compromised. America's future is too important to allow race-conscious admission to continue hurting all of us. It's time for the game to stop.

58 comments:

esmith said...

You can't prove the presence of discrimination using numbers and statistics. Ivies are not and should not be required to rely solely on standardized tests and GPAs. As long as they are allowed to look at other factors, it's inevitable that some groups will get in despite lower test scores and others will be left out with higher scores. In fact, any group that puts too much emphasis on standardized tests and scores is likely to end up deficient, on average, in other aspects which might interest the admissions officer.

Tom said...

I'm sorry to say that your argument has little substance.

You say "You can't prove the presence of discrimination using numbers and statistics" without giving any good reason.

"As long as they are allowed to look at other factors, it's inevitable that some groups will get in despite lower test scores and others will be left out with higher scores." Maybe, but nothing makes it "inevitable" as you say it is.

"In fact, any group that puts too much emphasis on standardized tests and scores is likely to end up deficient, on average, in other aspects which might interest the admissions officer." Why? Any statistics supporting this?

Please don't make strong statements like the following without backing them up.

gide07 said...

There is another group much more discriminated against by the Ivies. Steve doesn't mention them. Why? Either 1. Steve is a sociopath and ethnic chauvinist or 2. He is an idiot.

gide07 said...

Objective and standardized (same for everyone) tests is how almost all the rest f the world does it esmith. US college admissions are best characterized as "Satanic".

gide07 said...

"They did that once before -- against Jewish students about a century ago."

The JYTs manages to make this a story about Jews being victims. Unz's data show that Jews were grossly overrepresented at Harvard and Yale for the entire 20th c.

There is a big lie here. But that lie doesn't require a conspiracy in the conventional sense. The assumption that such a conspiracy would be required, and therefore anyone who would believe it must be delusional, is the "even bigger lie".

Bobdisqus said...

Mr. Neal sprinkles on the magic word “holistic” like pixie dust, but given the data Mr. Unz has assembled I think it is going to take more than pixie dust to convince rational people. Mr. Unz has put forth a good disparate impact case, and it seems the burden should now shift to the Ivies to open their admissions data and disprove it.

A test with matched candidates could be constructed. Run them through Caltech and HYP with a coached actor (white) playing both of the matched pairs. Then send the real matched students through. I nominate Steve Hsu and Greg Cochran for the oversight committee reviewing the construction and implementation of the test along with two representatives from the Ivies.

Bobdisqus said...

Off topic, but Steve do you know if students from the Ivies outperform matched IQ/SAT students from other schools on GMAT, LSAT, and MCAT results?

namae nanka said...

"creditability"


not once, but twice. freudian slip?

jeffhsu3 said...

I had an unpleasant experience with several people this week in which some of my previous charitable activities during high school was brought up. They had simply assumed that I had done them in order to get a foot up in the admissions race, not realizing that most of it was done through Church groups (which probably hurts admissions). It is this same ridiculous stereotyping that Neal et al have against Asians. Since Asians do well academically , then by Harvard's 'formula', the reason that Asians are not getting in is that Asians 'lack of character' is more than enough to offset their academic achievement.

My personal belief is that I would be happy if they admit to their biases as such and don't actually admit more Asians. Yes continuing this policy would hurt individuals, but it would be great if Asian-Americans trail-blazed better and more efficient higher-education that will benefit the country as a whole.

dwbudd said...

The numbers are very, very difficult to explain away with any sort of rational argument.

And yet, Asian Americans voted overwhelmingly for a party that is opposed to their interests in almost every way.

THAT, I find most curious.

Robert Sykes said...

Assuming the admissions cut-off IQ is 115, and given the percentages of whites, asians, jews and blacks and their average IQs, the expected distribution in an elite schools like Harvard is 70% white, 18% asian, 7% jewish, 2% black and 2% mexican/central american. Men would constitute at least 55% of the class. Any significant deviation from this distribution is evidence of discrimination, and in other circumstances the courts would rule against the admissions committee.

Ron Unz said...

Hmmm... http://www.aei-ideas.org/2012/12/at-the-ivies-asians-are-the-new-jews/

Anonymous_IV said...

Seems to be just an unusual word choice. The first two senses of "creditable" listed in m-w.com are "worth of belief" and "sufficiently good to bring esteem or praise". (The others are "worthy of commercial credit" and "capable of being assigned" [for academic credit, I suppose]).

Matthew Carnegie said...

The percentage of Asian students at the California Institute of Technology, which uses a "race-neutral" admission policy, has roughly followed the proportion of college-age Asians in the general population.

I thought err... that wasn't the case!? (and that this was rather the point...)

In 2006, they were 27 percent of Presidential Scholars, who were chosen based on scholarship, service, leadership and creativity.

I don't really get the s assumption that this is an honest indicator while university admissions are not (assuming it's not just "Whatever is more favourable to Asians must be more honest!"). This seems at least as politically gameable and AA gameable (probably with different end goals!) if not rather more so, than college admissions...

Not looking good for Woo being worth listening to here (purely on the basis of "numbers and statistics")... You could say perhaps this is "lie to children" territory, but it does seem rather to cast doubt...

twoL said...

Asians are less religious than whites, so that explains a large part of it. The other part is that Republicans have consistently advertised themselves as the White party, and have received a good amount of well deserved skepticism from non-whites.

dwbudd said...

The Republicans have "consistently advertised themselves as the White party?" Really? Admittedly, I don't watch a lot of Fox News, but somehow, I missed that ad.


An interesting article I read from Arthur Hu indicated that Asians tend to vote in close proximity to their immediate neighbours, albeit slightly more conservatively. But since just three cities (San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York) account for about half of all the Asian population of the US, and those cities are overwhelmingly liberal...

I think that the relatively irreligious nature of Asian Americans, coupled with the overtly religious appeals of the Republican message, turns off many voters, but I also think that this misses a lot beneath just the surface. And it doesn't really, in my view, address at all that Asian Americans to me are voting against their own interests.

tractal said...

Its probably also important to consider where Asian Americans tend to live: on the very liberal West coast.

Kevin Rose said...

Ahhh, the "Asian question" - I remember it used to be so fascinating, but it's grown so boring lately. I think it's pretty obvious what's going, and once you figure it out, it's not really a mystery. It's not about diversity (that's a joke), it's about intellectual performance. Elite colleges want to produce the best thinkers. Their prestige depends on it. It's reason for existing. It's what makes them elite. The best thinkers tend not to be Asians.


So if Asians think they are incredibly talented, they need to get out there and PERFORM - show the world what they can do. Show the elite schools what they are missing. Show the elite schools that if they want to produce the best minds, they have no better strategy than enrolling Asians. Asians need to start creating the best firms, writing the best books, becoming the best scientists, if they want people to think they don't just have the best scores - in short, Asians need to perform at an intellectual level they haven't been up till now. Can Asians do this? To ask that question is to answer it. They've been trying - incredibly hard, now - for the past 150 years at least, and haven't been able to. But hey, if Asians miraculously break the pattern of the past 150 years then good for them.


If Asians can't, then they need to accept that institutions whose main concern is to cultivate the top talent in this country have a compelling interest in limiting their numbers until better measures of intelligence than we currently have can be devised. It's just simple honesty and common sense.


Tests are always ad hoc tools designed to predict future performance. Asians who get top flight scores on these tests don't make for top flight minds, whereas whites who get scores do make for top flight minds at much higher rates. While this kind of thing cannot yet be quantified, it is nevertheless absolutely real, and everyone knows it. Even Asians know it, lol, and will often secretly admit it.


If Harvard let itself become 70% Asians, it would just become known as the place that no longer produces top flight minds and the best leaders but as a place that produces competent mid level engineers. In short it's prestige would utterly decline. So an Asian "victory" here would in a sense be utterly self-defeating.


It's really quite boring already - until Asians perform in the real world at a level indicated by their scores, they will be seen as just good score takers, whether people admit it publicly or not, and people - where it COUNTS - will always let what they REALLY know to be true guide their conduct. Even Asians.

tractal said...

If you're going to make incendiary claims like this you should provide objective evidence. There are a lot of other reasons why elite universities might artificially deflate Asian admissions. Notice that the schools in question instituted their putative quotas within 5 years of Asians achieving 25%+ numbers: far too short a time to assess the real world performance of a graduating class.

Yan Shen said...

Hmmm, Matthew Carnegie, Kevin Rose, Tractal, etc. It seems like the Pax Infoprocana that I worked so hard to bring about has officially come to an end. :) The usual suspects are back at it...

Kevin Rose said...

I would, but I'm bored by this whole topic, plus it's all been done before, lots of it on this site. I'm way ahead of the curve here :) Things I'm saying now will become publicly admitted in the next couple of years as the era of political correctness recedes. Besides, I'm also summarizing the broad consensus here, even if it's only privately admitted, and not just with whites. Lots of Asians I've spoken to will privately echo my sentiments.

BlackRoseML said...

Do you think this reason for Asian underperformance has to do with cognitive factors (for instance the hypothesis that verbal intelligence facilities greater creativity than spatial manipulation), personality, or cultural reasons?

I am like tractal and highly revere verbal intelligence.

BlackRoseML said...

I really enjoy Kevin Rose's presence here... too bay for me that he says he is bored by this whole topic.

Bob Arctor said...

I wonder what the excuse the likes of Kevin Rose, tractal, et alia would come up with to justify the Ivy League's near exclusion of white gentiles, which according to Unz face far worse hurdles in admission to top universities than even Asians do.

Maybe they'll claim that Europeans aren't original thinkers, have no history of scientific accomplishment, and are nothing more than grinds. And of course, that would just have to be the reason, because it couldn't be anything like simple Jewish ethnic nepotism at work. How dare you even say that!

Kevin Rose said...

Oh, I think it's almost certainly cognitive. I don't think we can look at cultural or personality factors until we know for sure that it can't be explained by cognitive factors alone, and of course we don't know nearly enough about intelligence to start looking at other factors . And it's not just verbal, the best mathematicians have been and continue to be white, with some notable exceptions. Likewise the best engineers, etc. The really weird thing is that even in fields where Asians have the greatest strengths, supposedly, they don't produce the best thinkers.


Chinese history is replete, also, with cantankerous and non-conformist characters, stubborn revolutionaries, die-hard refuseniks, and eccentrics of all kinds - Chinese culture also has one of the most original and non-conformist of religious thinkers that any culture has ever produced, Lao Tzu. And the Germans produced great thinkers and original minds despite being far more regimented, conformist, and disciplined than the famously chaotic and anarchic Chinese, or Italians, for that matter. And the French and English of the 17th and 18th centuries prized decorum and good manners and correct form much in the same spirit as the Chinese did, yet were highly original. I could go on and on, but you get the point.


So I think we are really on the wrong track if we start looking at personality factors to explain Asian intellectual mediocrity. No one who has spent any time among Asians can think they are docile and conformist. Even in the 19th century, the Chinese were described as one of the most lively, excitable, and expressive people around. Asians are smart and capable, but no geniuses, that's all, and it is almost certainly a purely cognitive limitation. I don't see a particularly great mystery, any more than that to be found in the fact that, say, the Swedes are reasonably smart people but no geniuses, and the Finns, also. The real mystery is why a handful of European countries (England, France, Germany, and maybe Northern Italy for a while) went from having reasonably smart people no worse - but no better - than the Chinese or the Swedes to producing the top flight thinkers in almost every field for over 500 years.

Luke Lea said...

If there is discrimination against Asian Americans in the Ivy League, then I support it. And for the same reason I would have supported discrimination against Ashkenazi Americans in the early decades of the last century, namely, because it is not healthy to draw one's ruling classes disproportionately from small minorities who are genetically distinct from and alien to historical and cultural experiences of the majority. Better to recruit a governing class that is representative of the genetic, historical, and cultural diversity of the population as a whole. In other words, affirmative action for all.

Of course this consideration would only apply in a democracy. Aristocratic societies could ignore it as indeed they always have. In aristocracies, which is to say in all pre-modern societies and the majority of non-Western societies to this day, the few at the top look upon the rest of the population as a species of domestic animal and treat them accordingly.

So it come down to a question of what kind of society we want to have.

Hauser Quaid said...

Kevin Rose How do you explain enrollment for blacks and Hispanics with even lower scores? Is it affirmative action?

The educational system is rigged for drones, that explains the higher exam success for Asians and women.

While most geniuses have high IQ, high IQ doesn't make you a genius and it's not just that the difference is in persistence. IQ fascists can't accept that no matter how much real life evidence we have (MENSA is a great example of mediocre population). IQ is just not the whole picture. Imagine a physicist who is very satisfied with the beauty and simplicity of Maxwell equations and decides to study the deuteron, but refuses to acknowledge that there might be something else, something ugly that is responsible for keeping the deuteron together.

Kevin Rose said...

Yeah, I'd say when it comes to blacks it's about affirmative action. Blacks score low and do pretty bad in the real world, so there is a high degree of convergence there. Asians score really high but do only average, so there is a discrepancy, a "mystery", that needed explaining, and human beings love a good mystery. It was fascinating for a while, until you figure it out. It's kind of like how Newtonian physics was good up to a point, then discrepancies began to appear, and it had to be modified. When the data begins to contradict your models any good scientist begins to question his models - in my view, the Flynn Effect, Asians, the fact that countries with lower IQs often do HUGELY better in the intellectual realm than those with higher IQ's (even among whites), the contradictions in the concept of g, etc, means that our current understanding of intelligence stands in serious need of modification. We're in the preliminary stages of that right now, and dealing with Asians has been a big part in bringing us here. Which is a good thing. As you say, IQ probably does say SOMETHING about intelligence


The other thing that's different when it comes to blacks and Asians is that the rationales in each case are totally different. Elite colleges have as their main goal producing the best thinkers and leaders of a generation, but this leaves them some room to pursue secondary goals, primarily of a social benefit nature, but also with regards to athletics, legacies, children of alumni. Higher rates of blacks are admitted in pursuit of subsidiary social goals, while Asian numbers are limited because high numbers are not conducive to producing the best thinkers. The consensus about Asian intelligence is tacitly admitted when people talk about "Asian drones", etc. So the situation now with Asians is primarily about smarts and performance, it operates in that dimension, whereas when it comes to Jews and blacks, it's about social factors (albeit in opposite ways)

Ron Unz said...

Okay, you've convinced me. And Harvard and the other Ivies have similarly concluded that non-Jewish whites are the most boring, robotic, and low-future-potential group of all, academic test scores notwithstanding...

LondonYoung said...

In a tiny defense of Manhattan clubs ... if you like to drink, and like to drink top shelf, and you want comfy club chairs, and you want the place uncrowded so that you can hear what you drinking companions are saying, and you want the bartender to know your name and how you like your drinks .... a club membership is usually the only way in Manhattan. This is a snob-free description of a business which is unstable except as a club - "high quality but uncrowded" doesn't work too well as a pure public model ... not saying you think otherwise, just pointing out that one may want to be a club member without being a snob ....

gide07 said...

If you'd like to drink sparkling wine with LondonYoung apply to the Muppet Face-Rippers club for drink and sodomy.

Matthew Carnegie said...

... and not really agreeing at all (I don't really agree with Kevin Rose for example, or think he has too much to back up what he has to say, although the historical and cultural patterns he describes seem basically more accurate than your perspective at least Yan), or interacting...

Yan, I for one, personally appreciate you refraining from going on your ethnically self serving tangents about how verbal conceptual abilities are correlated with extraversion, psychotic and aggressive personality traits in complete contradiction of the literature (and the everyday experience), and about "value creation". At least less than you used to. So don't think that your efforts to produce "less Yan Shen" have not been appreciated.

And that is at least one reason why I've refrained from commenting up often tenuous psychometric hypotheses with breezeblocks of text quoting studies I've found through google, that usually have a tangential link to the main post. And on these topics in general. And will continue, not to comment. (Even though I still think Steve Hsu is quite often wrong or unnuanced about anything relating to human beings rather than physics.) Although I thought what I said was pretty on topic this time, and fairly innocuous and well backed up....? Unless there was something immediately wrong with it?

George Shen said...

Just reading KR's post today. Oh, boy, it makes the top of " the most ridiculous posts I read today" list. If we are talking about Asian Americans, not the Asians in Asian countries, then you have a very little history and sample size to judge upon. Take Chinese American for instance. Chinese immigration to the U.S. had 3 major waves. First began in the 19th century and most of them worked as laborers. I don't want to sound snobbish or anything. But this group clearly wasn't the intellectual bunch. To be fair, they also faced unimaginable political backslash and public hostility, and discrimination, e.g. the only anti-immigration law on the basis of race - The Chinese Exclusion Act. Perhaps it is not by a stretch of imagination to say this group of people would unlikely produce great thinkers. The second wave is from 1949 to 1980s. This group of people mostly fled China for political reasons after the communists took over the mainland. There were some intellectuals within this group. The first and second generations of the group produced 8 Nobel prize winners. The 3rd wave began in late 1980s and the beginning of 90s. Notably two groups in this wave - one is the undocumented illegal immigrants and another is higher-educated Chinese students and professionals who came to the U.S. The two groups consist of the majority of Chinese American population today. So we are roughly talking about only 20 years of history. Most of the second generation is fresh out of colleges or going to colleges. If this group of Asian Americans doesn't perform at the top level after 2-3 generations, KR might have a point. But I highly doubt it's the case.

Lots of assertions KR made are absurd to say the least. And I believe it may be due to his lack of understanding of the Asian immigration history more than anything else. However, I do agree with the point that "Asians need to start creating the best firms, writing the best books, becoming the best scientists.....Can Asians do this?" Judging the 2nd generation based on their performance, I have good reasons to be optimistic (otherwise we wouldn't have this debate here if so few of them can get into ivies). Nonetheless, the hidden quota on Asians in the Ivy league and the fact ivy colleges don't even admit the existence are fundamentally against American values hence indefensible.

Kevin Rose said...

I suppose the next 2-3 generations will really settle it, once and for all, to the point where even a ghost of a doubt will be banished, but there seems no good reason to have wait so long aside from the understandable Asian desire to push the final reckoning date into an ever receding future - so far the paradigm case for this kind of thing is the Jews, who came from poor, primitive, religious communities, and scarcely needed 20 years.

The invariable reaction among the more honest Asians when faced with the incontestable facts about Asian intellectual performance is to push the reckoning date into the future, where anything, after all, MIGHT happen. The future is always a land populated by refugees from reality, at least from the reality of their day. It's a bad omen when people begin to feel they can only be vindicated in the future. But I suppose we shall see, at the end of the day.

The amusing thing here is you seem to believe that the indispensible thing needed to unleash this wave of Asian talent is an Ivy Leage diploma, of all things - once the new generations has THAT, THEN Asian talent will unleash it's explosive power. This kind of thinking is amusing, but perhaps typically Asian, with it's quaint, touching belief in the efficacy of official certification. Somehow, no one told the Jews they simply had to wait till they could get their hands on those coveted Ivy League diplomas before beginning to exercise their talents in all sectors of society.

Kevin Rose said...

Oh, I also just realized that you thought I was referring to 150 years of Asians in America. I wasn't (I even pointed out that large numbers of Asians have only been here for around 20 years). I was referring to 150 years - at least - of serious Asian engagement with the West in one form or another and in different forums, from the Japanese modernization project which made Japan an industrialized country at about the same time as Germany, to individual Asians within and outside of Asia who had nothing stopping them from coming up with exciting new theories in all fields, much as Einstein needed little more than some free time and a post office stool to revolutionize physics.

Iamexpert said...

In Canada there are no admission tests to get into university. They just look at grades and non-academic pursuits. The only reason admission tests are used in America is that schools vary so greatly in standards that grades lack universal meaning.

George Shen said...

Your view of the world is very simplistic, KR. Sorry to point it out bluntly. The last 150 or 200 years of western history would give us an accurate indication where the world will go in the next 200 years? I think not. If that were the thinking 2000 years ago when there were Hundred Schools of Thought (an era called 诸子百家– Zhu zi Bai Jia) contending with abundant free flow of information and theories (e.g. confucianism, Legalism, Taoism, Mohism, Logician, Ying-Yang), the Chinese would have had every good reason to believe the greatest thinkers must be all from the same civilization. But the world is more complicated than what we think.
As to the question why China didn't produce many great intellectuals in last 200 years, which seems to be part of your main argument against Asians, the reason is pretty clear if you study Chinese history (although I am less confident about other Asian countries). But I can tell you it wasn't because Chinese, as a race, lacked imagination or creativity. I completely reject this notion and hypothesis that seems very popular among many Americans. History isn't a simple competition of raw talents sitting in a classroom and getting the best score - unfortunately that's the way how some people think although they don't believe in academic merits themselves. There are historical, political and cultural reasons why a race or country lags behind, beyond the reason of intelligence or talent.

Please also focus on the main topic and don't put words in my mouth. I never said not attending an ivy is a sign of incompetency or failure, quite contrary to what you said about what I said (based on stereotype?) What I said was Asian quota, or any quota on any race for that matter, is un-American and wrong. And yet ivies don't even have the decency and courage to admit the very existence of it. Again, I am an optimist and suspect it may not come to that point (Asians have to prove themselves in the U.S.). Many talents including some of my friends have returned to China to seek better investment, research, and startup opportunities. And I wish them as successful as Bill Gate, Steve Jobs.

David Coughlin said...

I can't tell if you think cheap, sparkling Italian wine is fancy, or if you are trying to be ironic.

Kevin Rose said...

Well George, you seem to think that Asians haven't had a chance yet to show the world what they got. I think that's pretty unrealistic. We discussed that idea on this site in the past, and all the reasons for it were brought up and knocked down (all the social and material conditions supposedly impeding Asian creativity were seen to have existed in the West when it was intensely creative. War, social strife, lack of infrastructure, stifling social conventions, needing time to assimilate a foreign culture, etc. In fact, the West had things not found in Asia, like Church hostility to science, which put it at a disadvantage ). It was quite an eye opening discussion.


Point is, we can speculate all we want, but you seem to acknowledge - and I admire and applaud your honesty - that up till now, Asians have not fulfilled expectations. They might in the future, but they haven't yet. This seems to be the fallback position of the most intelligent and honest Asians who discuss this subject. Thing is, that's all we have to go by, what's happened up till now. Heck, I'm with you - who wouldn't want Asians to drag the world forward into a new era of progress? But no one really understands much about creativity and originality except that they have flourished in some places and not others, and we have to take that into account. Same with science - in the early 20th century, Bertrand Russel made the highly interesting point that creative science seems only to have taken root in very few places, really only England, France, and Germany (being the only countries who have shown a sustained ability to produce a stream of creative scientists), and that no one really knows why this should be so, why other countries with people just as smart and conditions just as propitious (seemingly), just can't do it. And that's science, which one would think could be transplanted to any country where the people are smart enough. But there's the fact, staring you in the face, and if you represented an institution whose reputation and survival depended on knowing what places are creative, you'd be stupid not to take that into consideration just because you didn't quite know why this should be so.


Yeah, colleges are pathetic for not coming out and saying why they won't accept too many Asians because, quite plainly, they don't think Asians with good scores really are very smart or creative, but we live in an era of political correctness, which means we have to be hypocrites. We have to do what is good for us while pretending we aren't, or giving dishonest reasons. These kinds of slimy compromises are probably part of every society, as a society without taboos seems never to have existed. I'm not defending that, just pointing out it's a reality.


As for putting words in your mouth, you seemed to be saying that you were optimistic because Asians finally have been getting into the Ivies in such high numbers, which implied that you thought that was a necessary first step before Asian talent can be unleashed.

tractal said...

One problem with this argument is you are taking one event (Scientific revolution occurred in Western Europe) and turning it into many events which you then treat as a composite record of European vs. Asian achievement. Sure, there is some reason why the scientific revolution happened in the West vs elsewhere, but when we are asking about relative cultural achievements during that time (Early modern-1950) we're really just asking about the causes of that event. It is kind of like asking about the dearth of North European mathematics in the iron age: Sure, the Greeks blew the Celts away, but the cause of that difference has everything to do with broad historical factors, not "ability" (although it is easy to imagine the Greeks seeing that differently).

So I do not think this kind of argument can draw from anything earlier than 1950 or so. Before that you're assigning strange causes to what are really just historical effects. And (not that I know much about it, I really don't) it looks like that generation is doing just fine, especially in "deep theorists". If you want to make that case you would have to do serious social science.


And again, I think your point about school behavior is just wrong. If the actors were thinking that way we would have seen a different pattern of behavior.

George Shen said...

Kevin, just because your argument may fit your personal narrative of west vs. east very well, doesn't mean it is true. And it is such a very limited comparison, mostly modern science in the last one and two hundred years. The whole modern science was a result of industrial revolution and therefore the west obviously has an upper hand in creativity and innovation. If looking at human history and creativity in a broader view, we can find your argument is very weak. That is why I brought up the era of Hundred Schools of Thought in China when so many philosophies and ideas emerged and flourished. But I am afraid it falls on deaf ears.

The town I grew up had so many famous poets, philosophers, and arts even as late as the Ming dynasty which was roughly the time when Pilgrims landed in Plymouth. But do you hear or know any of them? I bet you can’t even name one famous poet or philosopher from that era in China. You probably know many philosophers and artists from the same period which was the Renaissance (14th -17th century). That is why your narrative is solely western point of view. I can assure you there were more “thinkers” in China than in Europe back then. The advancement was also obvious not just in arts. You can compare Ming dynasty ceramics to the ones made in Europe from the same era (a trip to the NY metropolitan museum will do) and tell me who was more creative and technological advanced. Agriculture in China was far more advanced prior to the industrial revolution and there were lots of innovations and inventions in the field. Moreover, In architecture, literature, music, philosophy, science and technology, China can compete with any country in the world, including England, France, and Germany, up to that point in history.

Now, you cheery picked a period when Asian lagged behind and pointed out Western is more creative. Kevin, I hope this is NOT how you have done your PHD research which would require more critical, scientific, and rigorous thinking. And this kind of sloppy reasoning is definitely NOT a way that will lead you to a tenure track in a prestigious university.

Kevin Rose said...

George, I get what you are saying, that we get a very misleading picture if we compare China in decline to the West in its period of flourishing. China also once flourished. That's quite true, of course, but not really relevant. Just because an old man was a great athlete in his youth, does it make sense to expect him to be one now?


What matters is that in the past 150 years or so, Asians have TRIED, and have had no impediments worse than those that failed to stop Europeans, and have not fulfilled expectations. Sure, if Asians were creative once long ago, how relevant is that to what we can expect of them today? Maybe a little, but much less than the results of their recent efforts. There might have been some doubt as to whether Asians could recover their verve of 2,000 years ago - at first, but can there be any longer?



Of course, if you compare the Chinese period of flourishing, the Hundred Schools period, or the Ming period perhaps, to the European period of flourishing, the past 500 years or so, maybe culminating around WW2, the comparison does not make China look any more creative. And I'm sure you'd agree that it makes sense to compare periods of creativity with periods of creativity, periods of decline with decline, and so forth, provided, of course, our purpose is to get an overall sense of the historical importance of a civilization. But that's not what we're doing here. We're trying to get a sense of what Asians are capable of NOW. It's not so clear that what happened long ago is relevant, just as what the ancient Egyptians were like is not so relevant to what they are like today.



But if we compare the best of what the Asians did to the best of what the Europeans did - the only kind of comparison that makes sense - it emerges that the Chinese were not a very creative people like those of Europe. Sure, the Chinese were precocious, which is all that it means to say that 2000 years ago the Chinese were in advance of Western Europe.


But this is all very much a digression, although interesting. The really relevant thing is in my first paragraph.


Also, it's not just modern science - a favorite feint of people who adopt your line of reasoning. It's not just as if the West stumbled across science - a lucky hit! - but was no great shakes in all other intellectual disciplines. The situation is the same in ALL intellectual disciplines. And you have your causality reversed - it was great scientists that made POSSIBLE the Industrial Revolution, NOT the other way around. This isn't a minor point, because this is a myth that seems to be gaining ground in plain opposition to the historical record. Technology almost always FOLLOWS - usually unexpectedly - the work of a great theoretical scientist. The intellectual ability needed for technology is much less than that needed for great theoretical science.



The ancient Greeks were perhaps the most creative people in history, yet were technologically completely unimpressive, less even than the Romans so this locating of the distinctive European achievement in technology - of all things - is utterly misplaced. Technology is just a glorious epiphenomenon of the distinctive European intellectual achievement.


Anyways, anyways.

Kevin Rose said...

Tractal, my response to George below addresses some of your points. It's about ability, although no one knows WHY this ability shows up. Why were the Athenians so brilliant? Any "cause" you adduce will have its cognate elsewhere yet fails to produce the same result. Even any combination of causes. I think inquiring into "causes" is interesting but really speculation. We have to look at the record, acknowledge what it is, and base our actions accordingly. We don't really know, for instance, WHY there is more crime in black neighborhoods, although we all have our ideas (poverty, for instance, is often not associated with crime), but we have to base our actions on that fact.


We don't know WHY Asians don't produce the best minds yet do great on tests - every single cause as well as combination of causes exists elsewhere with different results - but we know it is a fact. We don't know WHY Sweden never produced a steady stream of great scientists while having a higher IQ population than France, but we know it is a fact - and we would be fools not to base our actions in the immediate future on that fact.

Kevin Rose said...

Tom, all that stuff has already been gone through on this site, and one can't keep on re-opening discussions that have long been concluded. I'm sure you see why I can't re-hash old material in excruciating detail every time some new guy who hasn't been around pops up. I have a life. Nor am I interested in "proving" anything. At this late point, that Asians fail to produce top thinkers at anywhere NEAR their scores or presence in the colleges is pretty much a fact, and citing a few exceptions won't change anything, and it's only interesting talking to people who accept that premise as a basic starting point.

gide07 said...

Was it all the grammatical mistakes? Ironic. There's Dom Perignon and imitation, and sparkling wine is poofy.

gide07 said...

Right and wrong. That's why I said "almost". Canada is even more retarded than the the US. This should mean, all else being equal (which it isn't), that the Canadian elite, so far as it is mediated by education, is not very smart. I also understand that French tests aren't standardized. "...vary so greatly in standards that grades lack universal meaning..." and they will in Canada too and every where else where the garde isn't determined by the same means for everyone.

Marmande said...

Steve, yeah, S.B. Woo, that's the guy to listen too. In fact take a listen to his website http://www.80-20initiative.net. When he's not not screaming against "racist" anti-Asian affirmative action quotas at Universities (he peppers his arguments with "racist" so much you can practically see the spit on your screen), he's screaming for the government to implement more pro-Asian affirmative action quotas in employment and govt. contracting. In fact his pro Asian quota lobbying is the biggest part of his schtick.

George Shen said...

Kevin, i suggest you read more and think more beyond just your personal narrative based on superficial observations. Your thinking style seems to fit the Hedgehogs type that Nate Silver talks about in this book "The Signal and the Noise" - super-confident and always certain but dead wrong. Read the chapter on "Are you smarter than a television pundit?" and you will see what i mean.


Also, this article answers some of your questions too, I think. http://www.forbes.com/sites/williamduggan/2011/10/11/can-asians-innovate/


Peace...

Iamexpert said...

My only data on the Canadian elite is Kim cambell (canada's first female prime minister) had a tested IQ of 154, only that wasn't accurate because she got every single question on the test right so they couldn't find her ceiling. Her teacher said she never saw anyone who could absorb so much. To put this in perspective, U.S presidents like JFK and Nixon tested at 119 and 143 respectively. However the high IQ of Canadian leader(s) may have more to do with the fact that they're chosen by other elites, unlike in America where the public elects the leader.

Grades in Canada are determined by teachers but hard teachers and easy teachers tend to cancel each other out for any given student taking multiple courses and there is specified content all students are expected to master to pass certain subjects. Universities don't need Standardized tests; if they want smart students they just demand you have a 90% in high school subjects like calculus, physics, and advanced level chemistry. Such strict criteria screens out virtually everyone with an IQ below 115 creating a university class with a mean IQ around 130 (about the same as Harvard scores on the WAIS).

There is a university hierarchy in Canada but it's less pronounced, probably because canada's small population prevents any university from rejecting a huge number of applicants. There are just not enough students to choose from to select a super elite.

But elites in all countries are going to be smart regardless of the university admission system because intelligence is the ability to adapt and problem solve, so smart people will figure out away to work any system to their advantage, assuming they are driven and aggressive. Millions of years before standardized tests were invented, the human brain began tripling in size because only the smart hominoids could figure out how to get enough bananas to survive while the dumb ones starved to death. Smart people tend get to the top in every time and place.

Kevin Rose said...

Peace, George....but isn't telling me I'm "dead wrong" an example of super-confidence, certainty, and Hedgehog-like thinking you accuse me of? :)


It's a pet peeve of mind when people do that. It's like when people say that just because Europe was dominant for the past 500 years, that doesn't mean it will be so forever - which is absolutely true - but then turn around and say that since China was most advanced 2,000 years ago or whenever, it's unstoppable destiny is to be so again (I'm not saying you did that, but you'd be amazed how common such absurd thinking is). It's amusing to see someone point out the logical flaw in a position only to erect a different position on the exact same logical flaw! But we humans are silly, blind creatures who can easily spot others flaws but never our own. Anyways, peace.......


(Btw, the Hedgehog thing comes from Isaiah Berlin originally)

gide07 said...

Grades, when they are determined subjectively, correlate poorly with scores on SAT and other IQ tests in the US even within the same school and accounting for restriction of range. If "grades" in Canada are like they are in the US, determined by as many as 4 tests per semester and by means other than tests which rarely count for less than 25% of points, Canadian grades won't correlate well either.

Iamexpert said...

Because of range restriction both grades and SAT scores correlate only moderately with IQ, but after correcting for range restriction, both grades and SATs are highly g loaded (about 0.65 and 0.8 respectively). Because grades are already so g loaded, using admission tests instead is not going to make a huge difference unless the admission test is super g loaded (0.9+) which is pretty unlikely. And it's probably a myth that universities select our elites anyway. Elites attend good universities because they are smart and well connected, not because the universities make smart people elite. Bill Gates used his genius IQ to become the most elite man on earth despite dropping out of harvard.

I don't think I confused psychometric g with another definition of intelligence, I think you confuse psychometric g with narrow book smarts ignoring its wider applications to real world problem solving.

I'm not sure if other countries have smarter political elites than the U.S. but if they do, it probably reflects their political systems, not their university admission process.

gide07 said...

At UO there is no need for restriction of range correction and correlation was < .5 for every subject with SAT.

Iamexpert said...

Why there is no need to correct for range restriction at UO? According to the book "a question of intelligence" by Dan seligman, the further one climbs up the education ladder, the more range restriction one finds and thus the lower the correlation between IQ and grades. So in elementary school IQ correlates 0.65 with grades, in high school 0.55. In law school i've read LSAT correlates only 0.4 with grades. Elementary school is the only level where virtually the full cognitive range is present, so the 0.65 figure reflects the true correlation between IQ and grades. Yes the SAT is statistically equivalent to an IQ test, but even IQ tests correlate only moderately with g at the university level for the same reason grades do: range restriction. Grades are not subjective, they are based on objective tests, exams, quizzes, homework assignments, so they are almost as g loaded as any other criterion.

Elemen Ope said...

So I support limited affirmative action, as a temporary measure, for underprivileged blacks, and in some cases women, breaking into fields they were denied access to in the past.

But even if you don't - whether you agree or disagree with affirmative action on behalf of underprivileged minorities - what is so outrageous about the situation uncovered by Unz is that the benefits to affirmative action are mostly accruing to over-privileged, affluent Jewish Americans.

WTF!!!?

Children of the affluent do NOT need affirmative action.

Unsettling implications of Unz's article:

- we are training a generation of mediocrities as our future governing elite
- Recent Jewish graduates from the Ivy Leagues are, on average, underperforming, mediocre intellects
- Conversely and perversely, Asian-American and non-Jewish white graduates from the Ivy Leagues, are, on average, overperforming, superior intellects
- the Ivy Leagues will decline in prestige as new elites emerge from those unfairly denied access to them

sddasasd said...

Would have helped if you did link it, instead of just saying "It's been proven firmly on this site asians are drones with no creativity, and no, I won't link you where."

sddasasd said...

I looked through your comments to find evidence of what you've been sputtering about, and came up with barely anything- more often than not, it's been you saying "Hmm, I'd back up my claims how asians are robotic study drones with no creativity, but I'm bored, it's been done here already, look yourself. And soon, everyone will agree with me, even chin- oops, I mean asians do themselves in private."

What a shame you've left this blog, you petulant jackass.

sddasasd said...

"I don't see a particularly great mystery, any more than that to be found
in the fact that, say, the Swedes are reasonably smart people but no
geniuses, and the Finns, also."

Wow. Swedes and Finns have no geniuses. This is even more absurd than you claiming the French have an IQ of 94. Yeah, you're full of it.

Blog Archive

Labels