July 05, 2023

Now that the Supreme Court has finally ruled that affirmative action in college admissions violates the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection of the laws” clause, what will the Establishment come up with next to put its thumb on the scale in favor of blacks?

One word that you’ll be hearing is likely to be “adversity.”

For example, The New York Times headlined:

With End of Affirmative Action, a Push for a New Tool: Adversity Scores

To build a diverse class of students, the medical school at U.C. Davis ranks applicants by the disadvantages they have faced. Can it work nationally?

The idea is to statistically formalize the current process in which high school students write essays whining about all the discrimination they faced at Choate: “Somebody tried to touch my hair.”

For instance, the dissent by the three kinky-haired Democratic women justices includes the immortal line:

For example, Rimel Mwamba, a Black UNC alumna, testified that it was “really important” that UNC see who she is “holistically and how the color of [her] skin and the texture of [her] hair impacted [her] upbringing.”

Everybody assumes that adversity scores are a great idea that nobody had ever thought of before because it simply has to be that if, as racists allege (although it’s racist to even know this), blacks aren’t on average scoring so hot on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), it must be because the police are constantly raining billy clubs down on their noggins and thus lowering their IQs.

Or something.

But of course this issue has been studied over and over by colleges since the Bakke ruling of 1978 regarding UC Davis’ racial preference program. The reality turns out to be that the black youth from the adverse mean streets of the inner city aren’t applying to medical school. Much as you’d like, you can’t close the racial gaps with class discrimination. Practically every black who can adequately perform a doctor-level professional job got out of the hood a long time ago.

Instead, affirmative action and its potential alternatives are mostly of use to blacks from the middle class and above. (Increasingly, higher education has found that its best bet with blacks are foreign elites. There’s something deleterious about African American culture.)

But when you actually write down a list of adversity indices, such as income, parental education, whether the student works to support his family, and so forth, you ought to realize the main beneficiaries would not be blacks but Hispanics.

“This racial expertise gradient is just how we would expect bell curves to work.”

And indeed UC Davis, like most University of California colleges at present, is frantically trying to boost its enrollment percentage to 25.0 percent Latino in order to get subsidies handed out by the federal government to “Hispanic Serving Institutions.” (How is that Constitutional?)

At the undergrad level, the University of California colleges, which have twice had their desire to discriminate on race banned by voters, have largely given up on trying to compete with rich private colleges for higher education’s most precious commodity, blacks, and instead have gone all-out for massive numbers of Latinos, who are fairly politically powerful in California.

Thus, the UC Board of Regents in 2021 banned students from submitting test scores.

In order to admit fewer Asians to make room for more Hispanics, UC San Diego has apparently decided to stop counting even high school grade point averages, which are boosted by taking Advanced Placement courses. Instead, UCSD appears to now only respond to class rank. So in 2022 it started letting in large numbers of high-ranking students from lousy all-Hispanic high schools like San Fernando HS by cutting way back on admissions from strong Asian-dominated schools like Arcadia HS.

The NYT exclaims:

And President Biden said on Thursday that his administration would develop a “new standard for colleges taking into account the adversity a student has overcome.”

Note that the student hasn’t actually “overcome” adversity. If he had, he wouldn’t need to have his qualifications inflated. Instead, his poor credentials mean he is presumed to have been damaged by all the adversity he experienced.

When thinking about high school students, it’s easy to be sentimental about people who are more or less children.

But when considering would-be medical school students, it’s not as difficult to be realistically hardheaded about what makes for a good doctor because the individuals selected might be your doctor fairly soon. Which can be a life-or-death question.

Do you want your own personal doctor to be a tragic victim of adversity? Or would you prefer your doctor to have every advantage that nature and nurture can provide in creating the ideal healer?

As I pointed out last week, economic historian Gregory Clark has been documenting that success tends to get passed down the generations within families.

Is this due to heredity or social construction?

It’s hard to say.

Consider Clark’s central focus, the extremely well-documented English class system. The famous boarding schools like Eton and Harrow were set up to replicate status both through nurture (e.g., inculcating a national elite accent) and nature (facilitating marriages to classmates’ sisters).

How do you distinguish nature from nurture in Jane Austen novels? I don’t know. Ponder a term traditionally central to the English class system: “proper breeding.” Does it refer to elite genetic ancestry or to the inculcation of sophisticated manners?

Or perhaps both? As far as I can tell, before Francis Galton, nobody in England had bothered to conceptually distinguish nature from nurture. English society was set up to do both at the same time, and before the 19th-century rise of leftism, there had been little need to distinguish between the two.

But one thing we can say for sure is that some combination of nature and nurture is the cause of Clark’s findings.

Now, theoretically, it could be that, say, Joshua Goldfarb, the great-grandson of Myron Goldfarb, is more likely to get accepted into medical school and become a successful doctor than George Floyd Jr. due to a vast and sinister conspiracy by the powers that be to place the Goldfarbs in well-paid (but oddly laborious) jobs such as the medical profession and keep out the Floyds.

After all, it couldn’t possibly be that the Goldfarbs are smarter and less criminally inclined than the Floyds. It just couldn’t. That would be racist. Hence, the Times acts shocked that medical students tend to have been born and bred to be doctors:

More than half of medical students come from families in the top 20 percent of income, while only 4 percent come from those in the bottom 20 percent, according to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges. There is also a family dynamic. Children of doctors are 24 times more likely to become doctors than their peers, according to the American Medical Association.

But consider a sports analogy. Americans tend to be better at thinking realistically about sports than at thinking about society, in large part because we decided a long time ago that we’re just not going to worry about the impact of race upon sports.

Who you want as a doctor is rather like who you want for your college football team’s quarterback. Consider two alternatives for your team’s coach to recruit. Should he prioritize a short, stunted kid who had rickets as a child sleeping on the sidewalks of Calcutta? Or 6′ 4″ Arch Manning, the grandson of one NFL star quarterback and the nephew of two more, who is this year’s No. 1 high school prospect?

Granted, it would be a heartwarming story if Rickets Boy succeeds in big-time college football. But I’d rather your team have that opportunity while my team makes do with the fourth Manning.

Likewise, nobody seems shocked and disgusted that the Golden State Warriors have won four of the last nine NBA championships around Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, whose fathers (Dell Curry and Mychal Thompson) enjoyed 29 seasons in the NBA between them. That’s considered just the way things work, like the Bonds and Griffey families dominating baseball in the late 20th century.

Similarly, I can recall trying to pick out a new doctor about eighteen years ago from a list of names and their credentials. My eye was struck by a doctor with a listing such as:

Myron Goldfarb: Columbia B.S., Harvard M.D., Mayo Institute intern, Johns Hopkins fellow, MASH Korean conflict captain.

I immediately reasoned: “Myron Goldfarb… Now, that’s a good doctor’s name! Wait a minute…Korean conflict? This guy must be about 80 years old. Forget him.”

I suspect that when picking out their own doctor, most people reason roughly like I did. But when they put on their social policy hat, they immediately assume instead that “George Floyd Jr.” would instead be a wonderful name for a medical student. What could possibly go wrong?

Yet as Charles Murray pointed out in 2021’s Facing Reality, black doctors get in serious trouble with their professional societies more often than do doctors of other races. The racial ratio in malpractice complaints isn’t huge like it is with murder rates, but it’s enough to raise serious questions about all the post–George Floyd demands for piling on even more affirmative action.

The high black screwup rate isn’t surprising because there are substantial racial gaps among who gets accepted to medical school. The median black applicant scores at the 36th percentile on the MCAT, Hispanic at 45th, white at 71st, and Asian at 74th. So, the white-black MCAT gap among med school applicants is about 0.9 standard deviations, almost as large as the typical one standard deviation gap in the general population’s IQ.

Because The Gap exists among would-be doctors, as in all other cognitively demanding fields in American life, medical schools have imposed substantial racial preferences since the end of the 1960s. Mark J. Perry calculated in 2017 that among med school applicants with fair-to-middling credentials—MCATs in the 60th to 74th percentile and college GPA of 3.4 to 3.59—21 percent of Asians get accepted, 29 percent of whites, 60 percent of Hispanics, and 81 percent of blacks.

That’s a lot of racial discrimination. Many people have been cajoled into assuming that race quotas are a minor matter of nuance, that they only come into play when two candidates are virtually tied. But instead, of course, they are more like an Acme Company anvil dropped on the scale in a Roadrunner cartoon.

Among med school students who are accepted and matriculate, the white-black gap is a little smaller, about 0.7 standard deviations: Black med school matriculants score at the 63rd percentile, Hispanics at the 65th, whites at the 85th, and Asians at the 89th.

The Times spins black doctors’ lower ability as a good thing because they work in easier fields in less competitive places:

Leaders in medicine say training more Black and Hispanic doctors could help bridge the vast divides in American health care. Research shows that doctors from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups are more likely to work in primary care or in locales where doctors are scarce.

And in her much-praised dissent last week in defense of affirmative action, the talkative new affirmative action justice Ketanji Brown Jackson repeated the popular blood libel that:

For high-risk Black newborns, having a Black physician more than doubles the likelihood that the baby will live, and not die.

More likely, of course, is that black doctors, being, on average, less competent, tend to deal with the easier cases but then call in expert white doctors in matters of life or death.

That’s good. In general, doctors are dedicated professionals who behave in the best interests of their patients, black or white, rather than be lethally negligent racist manslaughterers as certain judges and the prestige press routinely imply.

Considering the disproportionate number of black crazymen who violently attack random Asians and whites on the street in this decade, is it a good idea for black judges and the NYT to be endorsing low-brow hate tropes?


This racial expertise gradient is just how we would expect bell curves to work.

But these days you are supposed to be ignorant of the basic nature of mathematics.


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