March 13, 2024

Source: Bigstock

Why is Trump ahead in the polls over Biden, even though several traditional measures of electoral viability suggest the incumbent should be in good shape? For example, the Dow Jones average was over 38,000 on Monday. I can recall when Dow 36,000 was considered an ironic joke.

A fairly sensible reason that Biden is in trouble is that he is seen as representing the Establishment. And the Establishment discredited itself in 2020 by going bonkers, as can be seen by the rolling back in recent months of various Diversity Inclusion Equity initiatives foolishly adopted during the post–George Floyd lunacy, despite them being obvious bad ideas.

To take one instance of the tide turning, corporations now appear to be shedding many expensive DIE executives they added during their racist antiwhite “racial reckoning.”

I was going to call these staffers “deadweight,” but it’s likely that they tend to be not just a waste of space, but an outright detriment to getting work done.

“The Times was not terribly interested in preferences for blue-collar families back in the past.”

Similarly, the trend against standardized testing requirements in college admissions is fading as elites slowly realize it was stupid.

On Monday, the U. of Texas became another prestigious institution to announce that testing is now once again required for applicants, a trend begun by MIT and since followed by Brown, Dartmouth, and Yale.

This reversal is especially striking because last summer the Supreme Court, as expected, spoke out against affirmative action at Harvard. The fad for canceling test requirements appealed as a way to prevent the Supreme Court from discovering any hard evidence of discrimination against unfavored races: We don’t have the applicants’ test scores, your honor, but we reviewed their essays and recommendations and, wouldn’t you know, it turned out that blacks have much better personalities than Asians, holistically speaking.

Mandates for high school seniors to submit their SAT or ACT test scores to colleges were initially suspended during Covid lockdowns, but then were made permanent as part of the BLM madness and in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s 2023 decision that after 54 years, affirmative action was overripe. The University of California even decided in 2021 to ban any student from voluntarily submitting his test scores in order to crack down on California’s plague of high-achieving Asians.

Not surprisingly, this trend has been a disaster for the quality of freshmen classes. Texas revealed this week the results of its four-year experiment with not requiring applicants to submit test scores (although allowing those who wish to flaunt their test scores to “opt in”):

Those who opted in had a median SAT score of 1420, compared with a median of 1160 among those who did not.

A 1420 is at the 98th percentile of a nationally representative sample (including those who don’t take a college admissions test), while an 1160 is at the 76th percentile. A 1420 SAT score is equivalent to a 32 on the ACT, while 1160 equals 24.

The 260-point gap between those who choose to be evaluated in part on their test scores and those who don’t is equivalent to 1.2 standard deviations, which is, to put it in highly technical terms, a lot.

The impact of this test score gap on grade point average at the U. of Texas has been unsurprisingly massive. UT reports:

The higher standardized scores translated on average to better collegiate academic performance. Of 9,217 first-year students enrolled in 2023, those who opted in had an estimated average GPA of 0.86 grade points higher during their first fall semester, controlling for a wide range of factors, including high school class rank and GPA.

Note that due to grade inflation over the decades, college grades have compressed from A (4.0), B (3.0), C (2.0), and D (1.0) down to something more like A (4.0), A– (3.7), B+ (3.3), and B (3.0). Thus, UT’s average GPA in 2019 was 3.36. And since then, most schools have seen more grade inflation in this decade as standards have become even laxer in the Lazy ’20s.

So, a 0.86 GPA gap is huge. (Especially when controlled for other factors.)

Those same students were estimated to be 55% less likely to have a first semester college GPA of less than 2.0, all else equal.

Many college freshmen get in over their heads and have a depressingly disastrous first semester. Affirmative action contributes to how many 18-year-olds suffer mental illness.

Why do we want to debilitate young people like this?

Note that the Establishment had the data in 2020 to predict what has since happened. For example, the U. of California faculty senate commissioned a panel of leading social scientists, who endorsed keeping test requirements. But the UC Regents banned students from submitting test scores anyway in 2021.

So, many of the self-inflicted wounds of the 2020s weren’t even accidents. They were the result of a collective delusion that the data could be ignored for…reasons.

Also this week, The New York Times published its own study of how the top 80 most competitive colleges could cunningly evade the Supreme Court’s ruling by giving preferences that aren’t superficially racial to boost black and Hispanic admissions, such as by preferring working-class students.

The Times was not terribly interested in preferences for blue-collar families back in the past. But now that the Supreme Court has determined that the 14th Amendment’s demand for “equal protection of the laws” means what it says, the Times they are a-changin’.

As is so common with Times articles, reading it all the way to the end reveals numerous politically inconvenient facts. The NYT starts off with the woke explanation for why colleges use affirmative action, with the third and fourth paragraphs stating:

On average, students from families with more resources tend to do better on measures like the SAT.

Black and Hispanic students, who tend to be poorer and have less access to opportunity, often do worse.

So, their analysis asks, what if instead of giving preferences based on race, you gave preferences based on class?

Of course, it turns out that the best blacks are most bourgeois blacks, and that preferring ghetto blacks over suburban blacks in college admissions is a really bad idea.

But who has the courage to notice that?

The NYT study lumps blacks and Hispanics in one group and whites and Asians in another, which helps cover up the huge gap between blacks and Asians that NYT subscribers would prefer never to think about.

But if you dig into the data, you can approximate the black share under different admissions policies, which is what nice white people care about.

The model starts off by looking at what college admissions would look like if the top 80 colleges just let in all applicants who scored 1300 or above on the SAT. The Times doesn’t report the black share of admittees of the top 80 undergraduate policies under this policy, but it looks like around 2 percent. (Similarly, a 2008 study found that the top 14 law schools would be 1.1 percent black without racial preferences.) In contrast, blacks make up approaching 14 percent of college-age Americans.

Then the study examines the impact of crediting the poorest applicants with an extra 150 points on their SAT test score over the richest applicants.

Problem solved! Right?

Eh… This appears to boost the black share from 2 percent to 3 percent. As the Times admits in its 16th and 17th paragraphs:

But the shifts toward racial diversity are modest. The Black student share rises by just one percentage point. Why? Black families are over-represented among poorer households in America, but in terms of total numbers, there are still many more poorer white households.

Of course, the Black families deserve to be treated better than the white households, as you can tell by whom the NYT capitalizes.

For this reason, income is a relatively weak proxy for race in admissions. A preference for lower incomes produces just that: students with lower incomes, not necessarily a much larger share of Black or Hispanic students.

In other words, blacks and Latinos score low on cognitive tests less because they are poor than because they are African American and Hispanic.

Next, the model tries doubling the class preference to a maximum of 300 points:

In addition to a preference for low-income students, what if we added a preference for those who attend higher poverty schools?

This scenario takes the 150-point income preference in Scenario 1 and adds a second 150-point preference for students in higher-poverty schools, as measured by the share of students in that school receiving free or reduced-price lunch. A low-income student in a high-poverty school could get as much as a 300-point boost.

This would raise the black share at the top 80 colleges to about 5 percent.


Still unsatisfactory.

So, the Times tries awarding an extra 450 points on the SAT to some applicants:

Scenario 3 of 4:

Finding the outliers

It’s possible to take the underlying idea in Scenario 2 and dial it up further, by identifying students who outperform their peers with similar disadvantages (or similar advantages).

The theory is that:

Students who outperform their peers are academic outliers, and that may indicate something special about them:

That sounds inspiring, but it’s not actually true. Social scientists have been hoping to prove this for generations without success.

It would be wonderful if kids routinely progressed from mediocre elementary school pupils to genius grad students, but it doesn’t actually happen very often.

It turns out that social constructionism has some truth to it: The top contributors to the human race tend to have benefited from both nature and nurture.

I believe in this and it’s been tested by research.

One of the many weird things of the 2020s is the growing urge among white liberals, such as NYT staffers, to decimate the ranks of bourgeois blacks in prestigious colleges. In truth, you’re not actually going to like the results: Barack Obama types really are better than George Floyd types.

Acting as if some high school students enjoy an extra two standard deviations of intelligence more than they actually do boosts the black share to 8 percent, finally a little more than half their share of the young population (14 percent).

In reality, 85-IQ students can’t do the college work that 115-IQ students can, and 115-IQ students can’t keep up with 145-IQ students.

I recently got to know a high school student with an IQ somewhere out around 160 who earned a four-year full-ride scholarship to Caltech for his publication in an academic journal advancing the cutting edge in artificial intelligence.

Personally, I had no idea what he was talking about.


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