Open Thread and Link Farm, Frozen Like My Cold Dead Heart Edition

  1. Atheism and the Basis of Morality (pdf).The author argues that believing in an all-powerful, all-wide omnipresent, all-knowing God is incompatible with common morality, such as the idea that we shouldn’t permit a child to suffer terribly if we have a choice.

  2. Giving housing to the homeless is three times cheaper than leaving them on the streets – Vox

    Multiple studies have pointed to this same conclusion: It ends up costing cities less to provide housing for the homeless, then not. But this idea doesn’t even seem to be on the map at all, except among the left side of the left.
  3. Asking the Wrong Questions: It’s Easy to Be a Saint in Paradise: Thoughts on The Good Place’s Third Season
    wonderful and thoughtful blog post on the ethics of The Good Place, by Abigail Nussbaum. Thanks to Mandolin for the link.
  4. Scott Satens provides highlights of the results of the recent Basic Income experiment in Iceland.
    Interestingly, people on Basic Income got slightly less assistance than the control group on welfare – but reported higher levels of happiness.
  5. Americans are becoming more socially isolated, but they’re not feeling lonelier
  6. Self-Styled Free Speech Advocate Dave Rubin Praises Jair Bolsonaro For Ridding Schools Of ‘The SJW Stuff’ – Angry White Men
  7. Donald Trump handed a chance to supercharge voter suppression in 2020.
    I don’t think the decision was necessarily legally wrong. But it still frees up the RNC to step up voter suppression efforts – specifically, sending “security” personnel to go stand in front of minority-heavy voting locations.
  8. Elizabeth Warren Apologizes to Cherokee Nation in Private For DNA Test
    Some Cherokee Nation members are saying that the apology should have been public.
  9. The Misguided Focus on 1619 as the Beginning of Slavery in the U.S. Damages Our Understanding of American History | History | Smithsonian
    The story is more complex, and goes back further, than some people think.
  10. The Destruction of Black Wall Street – by Chelsea Saunders
    A short comic about the 1921 white riot that destroyed a prosperous Black community.”
  11. 16 Black Moms Are Getting a Basic Income in Mississippi. Here’s How It’s Working. – Rewire.News
    It’s a pilot program; if it goes well, the plan is to expand it.
  12. How Big Is the Male-Female Wage Gap, Really? – The Atlantic
    There is no “real” answer to this question, because – even when well-done – the answer to “how big is the wage gap” is always dependent on which wage gap is being measured. This is about measuring the wage gap over the course of fifteen years; measured this way, the answer is 50%.
  13. Pelosi Aide Tells Insurance Executives Not to Worry About “Medicare for All”
    Aside from the “Pelosi is anti M4A” part of things (which is not a surprise), it’s interesting to see what they’re thinking about Obamacare and pharmaceutical prices.
  14. 3 philosophers set up a booth on a street corner – here’s what people asked
  15. Are You a Woman Traveling Alone? Marriott Might Be Watching You. – Reason.com
    As part of an anti-trafficking initiative, hotels, airlines, etc, are being told to be suspicious of things like single women and interracial families.
  16. Cops Say Cindy McCain Didn’t Catch Toddler Trafficker at Airport: Reason
    “I went over the police and told them what I saw and they went over and questioned her and, by God, she was trafficking that kid. She was waiting for the guy who bought the child to get off an airplane.” That’s McCain’s version of the story; the truth appears to be, McCain called the police on a perfectly innocent mom who was with her different-race child.
  17. This filmmaker sat down with neo-Nazis and jihadists. Here’s what she learned. – Vox
  18. Restorative Justice | Thing of Things
    “There are some things you are entitled to that are completely non-negotiable, no matter how bad a person you are…. You have a right not to be tortured. You have a right not to be assaulted or killed, except when necessary to defend others. You have a right to food and water and shelter. You have a right to human interaction (but not to force unwilling people to interact with you, and that sometimes means sufficiently disliked people are doomed to loneliness– but it is a tragedy, every time).”
  19. U.S. Economy: Higher Minimum Wages Haven’t Increased Unemployment – Bloomberg
    The evidence is now clear: Either raising the minimum wage doesn’t increase unemployment, or it increases unemployment by such a small degree that it can’t be reliably measured.
  20. I might simply link to Henry Farrell’s response to people who want to engage him on race and IQ, next time someone wants to engage me on the subject. (A reminder: arguing for so-called “scientific racism” is not allowed on “Alas.”)
  21. Venomous yellow scorpions are moving into Brazil’s big cities – and the infestation may be unstoppable
    A lot of causes – including sanitation issues and global warming – have combined to make a possibly insolvable problem.
  22. Causation Fallacy 2.0: Revisiting the Myth and Math of Affirmative Action.
    Even if Harvard and other schools that are the focus of current lawsuits stopped admitting Black and Latinx students entirely, that would not significantly improve the odds of admission for White and Asian students. (Journal article, sci-hub link).
  23. Is Harvard Really Biased Against Asian American Students?
    Asian students are correct to think they’re being discriminated against in admissions. But that discrimination isn’t due to formal AA programs benefiting minorities, but due to informal racism for the benefit of white applicants. “These findings suggest that the same constellation of grades, activities, awards, essays, and test scores are interpreted as intellectual curiosity and academic excellence when presented by white applicants, but interpreted as evidence of an unimaginative applicant who is “booksmart and one-dimensional” when submitted by a student who is Asian American.”
  24. This Nancy strip is brilliant.
  25. Carol Anderson on Republican voter suppression – Vox
  26. Latino Turnout Surged. Then Texas Questioned 98,000 Voters’ Citizenship. | HuffPost
    We are increasingly dividing into the pro-democracy and anti-democracy parties.
  27. Can bees do math? Yes – new research shows they can be taught to add and subtract
    But can they be trained to do my taxes?

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113 Responses to Open Thread and Link Farm, Frozen Like My Cold Dead Heart Edition

  1. 1
    nobody.really says:

    …believing in an all-powerful, all-wide, all-knowing God is incompatible with common morality….

    Fat-shaming on Alas, a Blog?

    (Well, if you start from the premise that God is everywhere….)

  2. 3
    lurker23 says:

    Causation Fallacy 2.0: Revisiting the Myth and Math of Affirmative Action.
    Even if Harvard and other schools that are the focus of current lawsuits stopped admitting Black and Latinx students entirely, that would not significantly improve the odds of admission for White and Asian students.

    i read the article and i think they make two mistakes, one big and one less big. i will explain why.

    the big is funny because it is a very obvious mistake.

    if you want to talk about “how a change affects white and asian people” then you need to look at “white and asian people before the change” and “white and asian people after the change.”

    but what THIS paper does is to look at “*all* people before the change” and compare them to “white and asian people after the change.” the groups are not the same! and because the group that is included in “all people” has a better admission than white and asian people then the study will show an increase that is too small!

    i do not know why they would do that, it is a very simple mistake. but that makes the paper not right.

    the second part is not a mistake exactly but they make a bad choice to how they show the math. to show you what i mean i will give you a test:

    a number changes from 1% to 1.5%. ask yourself “is that alot of change?” and think what your answer was.

    now a number changes from 50% to 75%, ask yourself “is that alot of change?” and think what your answer was.

    now, think of why your answers are the same or different and why. i think that is fun!

    of course you all can see that the “rate” change is the same for both of them, they both got 50% bigger. but alot of people do not really think of 1%-1.5% as a change at all because alot of people do not think about rates when the numbers are that little.

    so when you report alot of LOW numbers and if you do NOT also talk about “rate” changes (like 1 to 2 percent is a double!) then i think alot of people may not know how big the change is.

    but you can choose! remember the paper says “not significant” and here are the numbers from the paper (page 18) to show an example.

    HARVARD
    5.84% “all admissions” (which should be “white and asian” like i said so it should be lower but it is what they show.)
    6.84% whites and asians only.
    1% INCREASE (should be higher, like i said)
    17.1% CHANGE (should be higher)

    ANN ARBOR
    2.82% INCREASE
    8.5% CHANGE

    CHAPEL HILL
    4.91% INCREASE
    17.8% CHANGE

    AUSTIN
    10.91% INCREASE
    27.1% CHANGE

    so for me i look at the changes and i think that is alot of change. if i were trying to get into harvard i would be very happy to have a 17.8% increase in my changes even if it was still very hard to do. i would not say “not significant change” at all. and of course the change is going to get bigger not smaller if you do the math right.

    anyway Ampersand i think maybe you should make that more clear in your post :)

  3. 4
    lurker23 says:

    the paper only reports the INCREASE and not the CHANGE. like for Harvard they only say “it goes up by 1%” but they do not say “going up by 1% means a 17.8% increase in your chances.”

    when i see that choice to not-report and i also see the funny stuff with “all admits” compared to white and asian admits, i start to wonder if the paper is really very honest.

  4. 5
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    2) The article compares the cost associated with the homeless with the cost of providing housing, based on the assumption that homelessness is the cause of the problems of the homeless. This is false. Homeless people frequently have underlying problems (that often caused the homelessness in the first place), like mental issues or addictions. If you give them a house, they will still have more police contact, will be jailed more often, will need more psychiatric and healthcare, etc, on average. So the evidence that is presented doesn’t support the claim.

    4) The control group was not a proper control group, because getting additional benefits was dependent on being on traditional welfare. So the people in the experiment were different from the people in the control group. Secondly, the main claim of UBI advocates seems to be that it greatly reduces the poverty trap, where working more means losing benefits, making it not worth it to work yourself out of poverty. This experiment found no increase in employment, suggesting that the experiment failed in its aim. It reduced support for an UBI in Finland.

    12) The article falsely (and hyperbolically) claims that women struggle to get hired, which they ‘show’ with cherry picked evidence. Studies sometimes find hiring discrimination against women and sometimes in favor. On average the level of gender discrimination in hiring seems low, aside from very regressive and very progressive employers (with the former discriminating against women and the latter against men). The article also fails to note the discrimination of men that I wrote about here recently: that men get punished for taking time off more than women. In general, the article is women-centric, like usual, hoping that policy changes “give women more control over their working lives,” yet never considering how men might benefit from more control over their working lives.

    22) The exact same arguments in the paper can be used to argue that the low rate of women and minorities among CEOs is no big deal…

    23) This could be a case study in how selectively presenting evidence can result in people with certain biases to draw certain conclusions. The conclusion that Ampersand draws is only valid if black applicants are judged similarly negatively as Asian applicants when being studious, which seems unlikely. After all, the stereotype is of the nerdy Asian who has very limited interests. That is anti-Asian, not pro-white, so one would expect all non-Asians to benefit from that (in a relative sense, by not being subjected to that discrimination).

    26) Yet in Europe (and Venezuela), it is ‘populists’ who fight for more democracy and more influence by the weakly represented underclass (including through referendums). I suggest looking at this through the lens of who benefits from franchising or disenfranchising certain groups. Looking at who benefits is often far more instructive than taking people’s claims to have certain principles at face value. Many ‘principles’ are instrumentative claims, not terminal values.

  5. 6
    Harlequin says:

    Lurker: I wouldn’t say that it’s straightforward which number you should use, the fractional change or the absolute change. Take your 1 to 1.5% chance of getting in. You can phrase that as “Your chance of getting in went up by half!” But you can also phrase it as “Your chance of NOT getting in is essentially unchanged!”

    Which one of those is more representative of reality? I’m not sure. Depends on what you care about.

    Like you, I’m not sure why exactly they are comparing to the admission rate for all students when they apparently had the data to do something else. (The authors say the data is publicly available online but I wasn’t able to find it; if anyone knows, and it’s not in a terrible format, I might look at it, because I’m curious now.) I doubt the difference is large, however, since most applicants and admitted students at, say, Harvard are white or Asian to begin with.

  6. 7
    Kate says:

    The article compares the cost associated with the homeless with the cost of providing housing, based on the assumption that homelessness is the cause of the problems of the homeless.

    No, it doesn’t. It assumes that people need the stability of a home before they can address their problems, and in addition to housing, it provides “a caseworker to supervise their needs.”

    Homeless people frequently have underlying problems (that often caused the homelessness in the first place), like mental issues or addictions. If you give them a house, they will still have more police contact, will be jailed more often, will need more psychiatric and healthcare, etc, on average.

    Yes, but having a home to go to and a social worker to coordinate care dramatically decreases the rates of police contact and, most crucially, very expensive emergency room admissions, for most people.
    The Vox article did not present this very well. A pilot program serving 85 chronically homeless people in Charlotte, NC found that:

    Residents of Moore Place collectively visited the emergency room, an expensive but not uncommon way homeless people access health care, 447 fewer times in the year after getting housing, the study discovered. Similarly, they spent far less time running afoul of the law, with the number of arrests dropping 78 percent.

    Lower cost. Less human misery. Win/Win.

  7. 8
    lurker23 says:

    Harlequin says:
    February 12, 2019 at 12:47 pm
    Lurker: I wouldn’t say that it’s straightforward which number you should use, the fractional change or the absolute change. Take your 1 to 1.5% chance of getting in. You can phrase that as “Your chance of getting in went up by half!” But you can also phrase it as “Your chance of NOT getting in is essentially unchanged!”

    the people who want to get into harvard are very interested in getting in and i think alot of them spend alot of time and money on things that make their chances bigger even if they are only a tiny bit bigger. for those people 17% better chances is really alot of a change, a huge difference even if they do not get in at all, so i think any article like this would be honest and at least report it.

    harvard is like winning the lottery, i think, so you can also think of a littery. i would much rather have 117 lottery tickets than 100 lottery tickts (or 117,000 tickets and not 100,000 tickets) even though the chances of winning were very very small. the people who are not willing to risk not-winning are not playing the lottery or applying to harvard.

  8. 9
    Harlequin says:

    (Edit: It took me long enough to write, step away, and then edit this comment that Kate already addressed the first part, including the exact same evidence, lol! Great minds etc)

    LoL:

    Homeless people frequently have underlying problems (that often caused the homelessness in the first place), like mental issues or addictions. If you give them a house, they will still have more police contact, will be jailed more often, will need more psychiatric and healthcare, etc, on average.

    In fact, housing-first initiatives greatly reduce incarceration rates and emergency-room use, for example. And addressing these issues is why the proposal is to provide “supportive housing”–including a caseworker to help with the other needs. So no, it’s not based on a false assumption that homelessness is the source of the problems homeless people have; it’s based on the evidence that the multiple problems many long-term homeless people have are easier and cheaper to solve with stable housing and support.

    Secondly, the main claim of UBI advocates seems to be that it greatly reduces the poverty trap, where working more means losing ben
    efits, making it not worth it to work yourself out of poverty. This experiment found no increase in employment, suggesting that the experiment failed in its aim.

    That is not the main claim of UBI advocates (I quite enjoyed the paragraph beginning “Many reasons have all been invoked in Basic Income’s favour…” at this link, but really any Google search for “reasons for UBI” will return lots of things that have nothing to do with the poverty trap–which, in any case, has been at least greatly reduced by better welfare design). And secondly, the claim I see most often is that UBI will reduce work rates (e.g. the paragraph beginning “Finally, there are many ethical problems…”, or here [which does mention the poverty trap–but the writer is not an advocate of UBI], or here which frames less employment as a positive). So no change in work hours is better than expected (at least if you want people to keep working).

  9. 10
    Harlequin says:

    lurker: it’s also worth mentioning that that is the change if there were no black or Hispanic applicants at all–not just if those applicants got a boost from affirmative action. Think of it as an unrealistic upper limit, not the size of the effect.

    I also have my usual problem that college admissions–like hiring, and other places affirmative action is an issue–is based on proxies for what you really care about, like intelligence and ability to work hard. So is a difference between SAT scores because colleges are giving a boost to unsuitable applicants based on race? Or is it a recognition that SAT scores are less sensitive to the intrinsic qualities & preparation level of certain racial minority groups, because of various correlations with discrimination and SES? Some of column A, some of column B?

    This stuff is hard. I grew up in Iowa, and I know someone who was an alumnus and did local interviews for one of the Ivies; he did them for 20 years before a single student he interviewed was accepted. I don’t think that was deliberate discrimination based on location, so much as ignorance of the culture–tall poppy syndrome means the kids are less willing to brag, for example, and lower population density means the reputations of the high schools are less known to recruiters. As I recall, this impression of mine was borne out by statistics about the states of origin for students at that particular university, but I was in college last time I looked it up so I could be wrong…

  10. 11
    Harlequin says:

    I really enjoyed the article about the Ask a Philosopher booth! Sounds like they got some interesting questions. And the end was very cute. :)

    When I was a grad student, I once did some crowd control for a long line of people waiting to get into a VR astronomy exhibit. I walked up and down the crowd, giving people the expected wait times and asking if they had any questions about astronomy. At this point, I learned that almost everyone, given the opportunity to ask anything at all about astronomy, will ask one of three questions: what are wormholes, really; what are black holes, really; and why isn’t Pluto a planet any more. I did get one fun question about the relationship between the relativity of time and the lengths of years on different planets, though.

  11. 12
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Kate,

    It assumes that people need the stability of a home before they can address their problems, and in addition to housing, it provides “a caseworker to supervise their needs.”

    No, the article is titled “giving housing to the homeless is three times cheaper than leaving them on the streets.” Even if we grant them a lying/clickbait title, they still claim in the article itself that giving housing is cheaper. Ampersand replicated this claim in his commentary.

    To support this claim the article tells us that $31k is spent per homeless person on “the salaries of law-enforcement officers to arrest and transport homeless individuals — largely for nonviolent offenses such as trespassing, public intoxication or sleeping in parks — as well as the cost of jail stays, emergency-room visits and hospitalization for medical and psychiatric issues.” It contrast this with: “getting each homeless person a house and a caseworker to supervise their needs would cost about $10,000 per person.”

    31k/10k = 3 times. This is how they got to “three times cheaper.”

    However, it’s only actually three times cheaper if all those $31k in costs go away if you give the homeless homes. This is basic math. If you spend $10k and the costs go down by only $10k, it’s just as cheap to give people homes (10k/10k = 1). If you spend $10k and the costs go down by $5k, it’s 50% more expensive to give people a home and case worker (5k/10k = 1/2). So you need to know how much the costs actually go down by when giving people homes and case workers, not how much is currently spent.

    It’s actually absolutely impossible for those $31k in costs to go away completely, because the public spending for policing trespassing & public intoxication, jail stays, emergency room visits and hospitalization are not $0 for the average person who lives in a home. So even if we assume that giving these people a home and case worker would make them just as (un)likely to trespass, get drunk publicly, get jailed, visit the emergency room or be hospitalized (without insurance?), that still wouldn’t make all those $31k in costs go away. As I’ve argued, it’s pretty certain that after giving them a home they will incur higher public costs than the average person who is housed.

    The Vox article did not present this very well.

    It tells a blatant falsehood. That’s not the same as making a poor argument. You are making excuses for falsehoods that match your ideology. Are you this forgiving when falsehoods are told that go against your beliefs?

    A pilot program serving 85 chronically homeless people in Charlotte, NC found that: […].

    Lower cost. Less human misery. Win/Win.

    If I look at the original story (instead of the more biased website that you linked to), it’s argued that billed healthcare went down by $1.8 million. However, uncontracted healthcare is notoriously overbilled compared to actual cost (as noted by the very study that the story is partially based on). Presumably, very little of this is paid for by the homeless and instead, it is mostly written off and the costs of that care passed on to other ER care recipients. This results in overly high ER bills. If you reduce use of the ER by non-payers, you will actually save less than seems at first glance.

    Let me demonstrate (note that the dollar amounts in the example are merely illustrative):

    Imagine that the actual average cost of ER care is $1k per visit, but that 50% of users do not pay. Then when you have 10 visitors, but only 5 payers, those 5 people have to pay double the bill, as they have to pay for those who don’t pay. So the bill per person is $2k and the total billed cost of the care for these 10 people is $20k, although the actually paid bills only add up to $10k. Also imagine that the non-ER care that the non-payers should actually use costs $500 on average.

    Then a naive view is that if we switch a homeless person from ER care to non-ER care, we will save $2k – $500 = $1500 per person and thus 5 * $1500 = $7.5k in total.

    However, if we switch all 5 of those non-paying ER users, the unpaid bills go to zero, which means that the remaining people can be billed for their actual cost, as they no longer have to pay for the non-payers. So the ER bill per person goes down to $1k, for a total of $5k. The actual saving per person is then $1k – $500 = $500 and thus 5 x $500 = $2.5k in total. That’s merely a third of the savings we earlier calculated when using inflated billing!

    So the $1.8 million in savings that is claimed by the article is higher than the real savings, perhaps by a large amount, especially since it only looked at the reduced ER bills, not the increase in bills for regular care. Of course, the article also didn’t quantify the costs in reducing policing costs.

    I don’t see any good evidence in the article or study for what the actual costs and savings were overall for this homeless facility. They don’t seem to have done the necessarily (and very complex) financial analysis.

    Also note that this particular facility does not in fact give people housing, but demands 30% of people’s income as rent. The total number of homeless in Charlotte seems to be around 600, but the article claims that only 200 qualify for this facility. So are they cherry picking the least problematic third? Also, there was a 15% dropout rate. These people went back to the streets.

    Anyway, my argument is not that this policy is not worth doing. I’m very supportive of helping the homeless, even if it costs more money than not helping them. I just want the argument for it to be made based on truth, rather than falsehood.

    If you are going to accept very poor ‘evidence’ that supports your preferred policy, then you are fundamentally no different from those who disbelieve in climate change based on very poor ‘evidence’ that supports their preferred policy. I think that if you oppose the one, you should oppose the other.

  12. 13
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Harlequin,

    I do agree that freedom is a common argument in favor of an UBI, although I think that many people fail to appreciate the positive freedoms resulting from capitalist disciplining (basically, capitalism forces us to do things that make other people happy enough to pay for them, so money-based trading is actually utils-trading).

    And secondly, the claim I see most often is that UBI will reduce work rates […] So no change in work hours is better than expected (at least if you want people to keep working).

    This base income was given to people without work, so there was very little opportunity for people to reduce working hours in the first place.

    They didn’t get a job less often than the control group, which can mean that work is not less attractive; or it can mean that the reduction in the poverty trap offsets the less attractiveness of jobs. If the latter is the case, people who are not subject to the poverty trap (who were not studied here) may reduce their working hours if subject to an UBI.

  13. 14
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    As for affirmative action, you can also frame it like the applicants who filed a lawsuit did:

    Consider the example of an Asian-American applicant who is male, is not disadvantaged, and has other characteristics that result in a 25% chance of admission. Simply changing the race of this applicant to white—and leaving all his other characteristics the same—would increase his chance of admission to 36%. Changing his race to Hispanic (and leaving all other characteristics the same) would increase his chance of admission to 77%. Changing his race to African-American (again, leaving all other characteristics the same) would increase his chance of admission to 95%

    Imagine a situation where a race-based preference policy makes a white person have 95% chance to be admitted, while if he were exactly the same, but black, would have a 25% chance. Would this then be accepted as insignificant?

  14. 15
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    I’m with LoL on the presentation of the data at link 23, it’s wildly misleading and seems designed to fool people who aren’t good at math (or reasoning at all, really).

    Worse, I’m not sure why anyone should care about differing acceptance rates for different groups, as they seem irrelevant as to whether the admissions system is fair.

    Suppose I start a charitable nonprofit, the goal of which is encourage every black student in the USA with a chance of getting into Harvard to apply there, and my organization doubles the number of applications from black students. This would result in cutting the acceptance rate nearly in half! Should Black students be angry about this? Has my nonprofit made the system less fair? I’d say “no” on both counts.

    Similarly, I’d argue the Asian students can’t use their lower acceptance rates to argue that the system is unfair, because “raw number of applicants with similar skin color” shouldn’t be a factor when deciding whether or not to admit a student.

    LoL’s way of measuring fairness at comment#14 seems right to me, and probably for most voters in the USA.

    The questions is, should the process be fair? I’m not a fan of AA for most college admissions, but my understanding is the graduation rates for black students at the Ivy’s are actually really high, in line with other groups of students ( https://www.jbhe.com/2013/11/black-student-graduation-rates-at-high-ranking-colleges-and-universities/ ). This is because everyone who makes it in to an Ivy is a good student. On the other hand, AA at mid tier and non-ivy upper-tier universities seems to be driving down graduation rates for black students who may have been better off attending schools where their classmates aren’t testing an entire standard deviation ahead of them. Maybe there should be more AA at the Ivy’s, and less at schools where AA can be shown to harm the future outcomes of black students. Then again, the differences in graduation rates at non-ivy’s may have nothing to do with talent, and more to do with other circumstances. The debate surrounding AA is complicated and politically polarized, but I think it’s easy to make a case for AA at the Ivy’s, so long as people are willing to accept an unfair application process.

  15. 16
    lurker23 says:

    Jeffrey Gandee says:
    February 13, 2019 at 6:01 am
    I’m with LoL on the presentation of the data at link 23, it’s wildly misleading and seems designed to fool people who aren’t good at math (or reasoning at all, really).

    what about me?

    also i do not know if graduation rate is really good to get all the right data. when i read things on aa i think that you should also be looking at things like how they did and how the other students in their class did and what majors they take and that sort of thing. like some schools that are not high ranked graduate alot of black doctors and engineers and physics people and other schools that are high ranked do not do that so much.

    I think it’s easy to make a case for AA at the Ivy’s, so long as people are willing to accept an unfair application process.

    if you only do aa at ivy schools or maybe top ten schools, and everyone else has to “go to a school where they can get in without aa” then you will have a very very VERY VERY big gap right under the ivy where you are really not going to have many black people in the other schools at all.

    there are maybe 4000 new students each year in the ivy league, say you are only talking about AA at the top schools that take a total of 10000 students.

    if you want 25% of them to be black you are taking almost every single black person who scored above a 1400 (there were only 2600 of them in 2018) and putting them only in those schools, so there are no smart black people left for any other schools. but you have to go way down the ranking list before you find alot of schools with an sat average below 1400. and the lower ranked schools are even bigger so they need more people.

    i saw 2018 sat scores here https://reports.collegeboard.org/pdf/2018-total-group-sat-suite-assessments-annual-report.pdf

    if you look at “who got a 1200 or more” i think that is 57% of asians who took test, 35% of whites who took test, only 8% of blacks who took test. those are bad ratios.

    if you look at 1400 or more it is even worse, only 1% of blacks who took test got at least a 1400, but 24% of asians did and 8% of whites.

  16. 17
    lurker23 says:

    to show what i mean, i did the math and in 2018 here are the people who scored at least a 1400:

    52,313 asian people
    2,633 black people
    74,466 white people

    129,412 total people

    then i did the math to ask “what percent of the high sat people are the asian black and white people?” and

    40.5% asian
    2% black
    57.5% white

    do you see the problem? there are not enough high sat black people to fill all the slots that the schools want to fill unless they use aa.

  17. 18
    Harlequin says:

    They didn’t get a job less often than the control group

    Which is what I meant by talking about comparative work hours–compared to the control group, not to the same people pre-UBI. Sorry if that wasn’t clear!

    which can mean that work is not less attractive; or it can mean that the reduction in the poverty trap offsets the less attractiveness of jobs. If the latter is the case, people who are not subject to the poverty trap (who were not studied here) may reduce their working hours if subject to an UBI.

    It’s possible–no single study is able to get at the full truth. But this is positive evidence that one of the proposed harms of UBI (disincentivization to work) is, at least, much less dangerous that portrayed by critics.

  18. 19
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Sorry, Lurker, I got you guys confused. It was your point on the presentation of that data that had me nodding along. I still can’t believe the author isn’t being intentionally misleading.

    AA is like most policy, it has trade offs. I suppose you make a good case for AA across the board or no AA at all. A whole bunch of priorities need to be straightened out before anyone can have an intelligent conversation, though, starting with the value add of a potential college degree in a desired major vs the value add of a different diverse campus, taking into consideration the odds of attaining said degree with and without AA. This is already a tough calculation, and we havent even considered the value add of having a fair selection process.

  19. 20
    Harlequin says:

    Imagine a situation where a race-based preference policy makes a white person have 95% chance to be admitted, while if he were exactly the same, but black, would have a 25% chance. Would this then be accepted as insignificant?

    Likely not. But that doesn’t mean the situation in the lawsuit (if it is as described) is necessarily wrong–or, rather, that the right level of difference between kids of different races should be 0. If you come from a worse school and/or a lower SES background, you had to work harder to get the same level of qualifications, and those qualifications should be judged accordingly. And we use race because we know simple measures of SES often don’t capture the full story of this background (e.g., how wealthy black kids tend to live in neighborhoods with high poverty rates even though they’re not poor themselves). It is not perfect, and absolutely upweights some people who don’t need the help and downweights people who do–after all, refugees from Burma and the kids of Google workers who immigrated from China are both “Asian.” But it’s not like a system that didn’t take this into account would be fairer–it’s overall much less fair that race-conscious admittance procedures, IMO. I think your hypothetical is unfair because I can’t imagine a situation in current US society where black people would have the kind of advantage over white people that needs to be corrected this way, not because I think any differences based on race are bad.

    There’s a separate question, again, of whether the level to which this is done is the “right” one–the one that minimizes unfairness. And how much other things are weighed, as Jeffrey says, such as desiring a diverse student body that maximizes the education of the students who are there: if the whole student body is wealthy and white, the opportunities for learning go down, so the question is not just maximizing the utility to the individual student but also to all of their classmates. Which is kind of a thorny problem to think through. I’m arguing against the idea that a fair admissions process is race-blind, which seems implied by your question, not arguing for the particular implementation at any one university–as Amp points out, there is racism against the non-academic qualifications of Asian students and that is clearly bad.

    I am absolutely saying, for example, that the average black woman with the same qualifications I had should have gotten into better schools than I did. I worked hard, but my hard work was made more effective because of things that had nothing to do with me (like: my school teaching me how to use a library, so I could learn astrophysics on my own when I was a teenager, without expending effort on figuring out how to obtain the right kind of books; the library being close enough to my house that transportation wasn’t an issue, and including books of the right content level; not being harassed for being in the university library when I went there, because I looked like the kind of person who belonged).

    This is especially relevant to the SAT scores you’re citing, lurker. SAT scores are a bad indicator of college achievement, are fairly easy to learn as a skill (especially with pricey test-prep services that wealthier parents can afford), and are known to have strong biases based on SES. You cannot use them on their own if you want an accurate result, especially for group-level proxies for ability.

    Jeffrey, I don’t have time to look up the statistics right now, but I’m pretty sure there isn’t a dropoff in graduation rates below the Ivy League–instead, there’s a pretty direct correlation between the resources of a school and their minority graduation rates. (Probably some combination of better financial aid & more support services–paperwork alone can be a barrier to students who aren’t used to dealing with bureaucracy, so better-staffed offices can help more.)

  20. 21
    Harlequin says:

    Oh, I forgot to say:

    I still can’t believe the author isn’t being intentionally misleading.

    Unfortunately, lots of people are very bad at statistics, including lots of really smart and/or well-educated people. And too often it’s not recognized as a separate discipline you should seek independent experts in. (I’m thinking of the very tragic case of Sally Clark in particular.)

  21. 22
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Harlequin,

    If you come from a worse school and/or a lower SES background, you had to work harder to get the same level of qualifications, and those qualifications should be judged accordingly.

    While that is true, that doesn’t mean that the gap between various ethnic groups is solely due to those causes. It seems to me that Asians do better on average in part because of cultural differences that makes them work harder. These Asian students are punished by AA for working harder, which is not justified by the reason that you give for having race-based AA.

    Ultimately, the fact that Asians do better in academia than white people and are most disadvantaged by AA is incompatible with the SJ narrative that the different success rates of ethnic groups is entirely due to oppression of people of color by the majority of white people. Yet I see people cling to these beliefs and thus act as if they are true despite the evidence against it staring them in the face.

    If you make policy based on the idea that the entire disparity between ethnic groups is being caused by discrimination and/or is fairly easily fixable, then you can have severe negative effects.

    Ill-prepared students don’t magically become capable if you let them into colleges. Requiring colleges to offer remedial education is an immense drain on them. Furthermore, it’s questionable whether they are capable of actually bringing a sufficient number of student up to par. I’ve heard quite a few horror stories by teachers who had classes where only a fairly small fraction of students was capable of learning advanced material, yet the administration forced them to not flunk these students. Many of them then decided to teach to a lower standard.

    This in turn is very negative to the students (of all races) that are capable of more, but are denied an education on par with their abilities. This then extends to society as a whole, which then doesn’t get to benefit from having students educated to a higher standard.

    We’ve also seen cases where progressives decided that disciplining in education was racist, because it was disproportionately black students who were being disciplined. Then they removed disciplining for these students, even though it was a response to disruptive behavior, which then became unchecked, ruining the educational environment for all (and ironically, making the problem of certain schools giving people a poor start even worse).

    This is a common error in progressive policies: addressing the symptoms rather than a cause, in a way that just makes the problems worse (in the previous example, the real thing what needs to be fixed is the reason why black students become more disruptive).

    But it’s not like a system that didn’t take this into account would be fairer–it’s overall much less fair than race-conscious admittance procedures, IMO.

    That depends on whether one thinks that institutional racism is ever justified or whether one rejects it on deontological grounds. I do the latter, in part because it seems ripe for misuse and conflicts over such policies inevitably generate racial resentment. I prefer not to breed white (or black, Asian, etc) nationalists.

    Even if one accepts the idea that institutional racism is a valid tool to offset societal racism, it suffers severely from the issue that societal racism is not distributed evenly. Affirmative action helps those who are least effected by societal racism the most, which means that it doesn’t actually offset societal racism on the individual level. Now, my experience is that most SJ advocates are collectivists, who are fine with policies that are unfair to individuals, as long as the unfair benefits to people in a group offset the unfair deficits to people in a group. However, I reject such thinking.

    Aside from the unfairness to individuals, an issue is also that SJ ideologues and progressives in general have a strong tendency to overestimate the level of discrimination against those they deem to be victims & underestimate the agency of those people (and underestimate the discrimination against those they deem to be oppressors and overestimate their agency).

    So I think that your side has a chronic tendency to do way too much ‘benevolent’ discrimination, especially since root causes are often unaddressed in favor of turning knobs that can’t offset societal unfairness. Then when these interventions don’t remove the societal unfairness, which they couldn’t be expected to do since they don’t address the root cause, the tendency is to turn the knob harder, with little care for the people in the outgroup who are hurt in the process.

    I think your hypothetical is unfair because I can’t imagine a situation in current US society where black people would have the kind of advantage over white people that needs to be corrected this way, not because I think any differences based on race are bad.

    Just replace black people with women and white people with men, then. Affirmative action and other specific favors for female students is still way, way more common than favors for male students, despite female students doing much better on the whole. Yet somehow the very thing that we are not allowed to do for black people or women, hold them (partially) responsible for poor outcomes, is the common and usually sole reply to the issue of male students not doing that well.

    Note that my suggestion is a moderate position, where we recognize a limited level of agency for all.

    if the whole student body is wealthy and white, the opportunities for learning go down

    If you abolish AA, the whole student body is not going to be wealthy and white. That is certainly not going to be the case if you replace AA with a SES-based policy. You are engaging in sophistry with such an absurd claim.

    Secondly, the opportunities for learning may not meaningfully be reduced in many cases. If I am studying math, then there is no black or white math, no rich or poor math. If the goal is to teach people certain civic lessons, then it is far from given that this is best taught by having people of different races interact more, rather than teach it explicitly. Note that Robert Putnam famously found that racial diversity atomizes people and destroys trust in neighbors and institutions. So AA may teach things that aren’t helpful. If you let in black people that are less capable, then student’s lived experience will be that black students are less capable than white students on average. Is this a lesson that you want to teach people?

    not arguing for the particular implementation at any one university–as Amp points out, there is racism against the non-academic qualifications of Asian students and that is clearly bad.

    Affirmative action is discrimination against people by race based on non-academic qualifications. That’s what it is!

    You can’t favor a policy and then run away from its negative consequences that are unavoidably part of that policy.

  22. 23
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Jeffrey Gandee,

    Graduation rates have become targets, which potentially makes them subject to Goodhart’s law (“When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure”).

    At Mizzou, there is a program to assist black men that is denied to black women and white people. That surely closes the gap between the graduation rates of black men and others, but that is by virtue of assistance given to them that is denied to others.

    However, at many other universities attempts to improve graduation rates seem to at least theoretically be neutral, helping all those in need. However, with the focus being on closing the racial gap, the incentive is to help black people more than white students who flounder. Often, when you set targets that can (only/best/also) be met by discrimination, then even if there is no official policy of discrimination, people will do what it takes to achieve the targets.

    Furthermore, if teachers have a common progressive belief, that black people have to work harder for the same outcome, even at the university, they may grade these students higher than the quality of their work merits.

    If more equal graduation rates are achieved by educating black people to a lower standard, this would then logically impact these people in their future careers, causing black graduates to do worse than white graduates (as the former are educated to a lower standard). Ironically, one can then expect this to be visible in the careers of black people, which could then be falsely be used as evidence for the claim of discrimination against black people, while the actual discrimination is against poorly educated graduates.

  23. 24
    lurker23 says:

    If you come from a worse school and/or a lower SES background, you had to work harder to get the same level of qualifications, and those qualifications should be judged accordingly.

    should they? that is true if the idea is to let people in because of “hard they work.” but i do not think that is how it is.

    when people are just kids then we care only about how hard they try. but when people are grownups we care mostly about what they can do, i do not care if my doctor tries, i care if they are good at being a doctor, same for most people. college is where things start to change from caring about trying to caring about doing, i think.

    of course if you look at someone who went to a bad school and got a bad education and does not know alot of the stuff school is supposed to teach then that person would probably know more if they went to a better school. but you do not know how MUCH more, i know alot of people in good schools and some of them do very very well and other people do not do well. i think the aa people just make up a number. (another fairer way is that you can try to use a test that will not so much look at what you know but instead will look at how smart you are and how well you think, so you might think “i will let smart good-thinking people in even if they have a bad education”. but the problem is that those tests are alot like iq tests. and those will not give the results that aa people want at all.)

    or, if people think think that the sat is really easy to learn, so you just give classes to alot of people and hope they will do well on the SAT. that makes the most sense because the sat class is only 100 or maybe 200 hours and the sat makes a big difference in admission. but that does not work well either, i think, because it turns out that the sat actually needs you to know things like math (you cannot learn trigonometry in 100 hours) and english (you cannot learn to read well or fast in 100 hours) and so maybe the whole “sat is just about expensive classes” thing is not true, either

    Ironically, one can then expect this to be visible in the careers of black people

    i think this is true. i read that we would have alot more black engineers and alot more black doctors with less aa because they keep letting people into supergood schools under aa where they are at the bottom of their class. but the people who graduate with an engineer degree are usually high up in the class because it is hard, so they drop out of that program and never become engineers.

    you can get an engineer degree at MIT and alot of other places, it is all the same certification. but it is ALOT harder to be in an mit class because 75% of MIT people have at least a 770 on the sat math section and at least 25% (probably more) have an 800.

    say you have an aa person who was good at high school math but did not get to take calculus in high school. and they are smart. and maybe they got a 1450 math score on that part of the sat. so they are very much in the top 1% of black students.

    and this person will do well at alot of places!!! but if they go to mit they STILL might be one of the worst students in the school and especially in the engineer program. so they will end up probably dropping engineering.

  24. 25
    desipis says:

    Harlequin:

    If you come from a worse school and/or a lower SES background, you had to work harder to get the same level of qualifications, and those qualifications should be judged accordingly. And we use race because we know simple measures of SES often don’t capture the full story of this background (e.g., how wealthy black kids tend to live in neighborhoods with high poverty rates even though they’re not poor themselves).

    Except we can directly the measure parent income, neighbourhoods and schools that students go to, so there’s no need to use race as a poor proxy for these things. Pretty much anything you can measure in a study to show it produces is something you can measure on all students and take into account when considering who to accept. The only reason to use race is if you don’t care about the underlying reality or injustices and instead just care about the numbers at a superficial level.

  25. 26
    Kate says:

    If I look at the original story (instead of the more biased website that you linked to), it’s argued that billed healthcare went down by $1.8 million. However, uncontracted healthcare is notoriously overbilled compared to actual cost (as noted by the very study that the story is partially based on). Presumably, very little of this is paid for by the homeless and instead, it is mostly written off and the costs of that care passed on to other ER care recipients. This results in overly high ER bills. If you reduce use of the ER by non-payers, you will actually save less than seems at first glance.

    It looks like either all the articles did a piss poor job of summarizing it, or there is more data we haven’t found yet. Despite your aggressive accusations, I am actually interested in knowing the truth about this. I’ll admit that I’ve been busy, and didn’t read the article as closely as I should have. Thanks for linking to the study.
    No one says billed healthcare went down by $1.8 million. I actually don’t know where the articles got the $1.8 million/year figure. According to the report, billed healthcare went down $2.4 million in the first two years (p.10). As you pointed out, they note that “Actual costs are typically less than the charges reflected in hospital billing data.” But, you fail to note costs NOT included in hospital billing data, including “additional amounts from physicians who bill for professional services separately” which they didn’t track (p. 10); and Medic utilization (p. 11), resulting in reduction of billed amount of $258,604. They also don’t calculate the savings on law enforcement, in reduced arrests (82%) and days spent in jail (89%, from 1180 to 130). This study reported the average daily cost per inmate in Mecklenburg County, NC as $166.04/day, a savings of $174,342.

    Presumably, very little of this is paid for by the homeless and instead, it is mostly written off and the costs of that care passed on to other ER care recipients.

    Actually, the study says that at the outset 36% of participants were covered by Medicaid (p.8), 2 were over 65, so covered by Medicare, and 9 were veterans, so covered by the VA (although there may be some overlap, p. 20). So, at least 1/3, and perhaps as many as half, weren’t uncontracted, non-payers at the outset.

    Also note that this particular facility does not in fact give people housing, but demands 30% of people’s income as rent.

    I think they were pretty transparent about that. I’m not sure why you see that as a problem.

    The total number of homeless in Charlotte seems to be around 600, but the article claims that only 200 qualify for this facility. So are they cherry picking the least problematic third?

    No, the reverse. They were cherry-picking the highest cost homeless, to try to produce the highest returns on investment. I think they were pretty transparent about that. Two quotes from the report:
    “Tenants were homeless an average of seven years prior to moving into Moore Place and experienced periods of homelessness ranging up to 25 years.” p.8
    “Participating tenants were particularly vulnerable regarding age, disabling conditions, and the impact of traumatic stress.” p. 59

    Also, there was a 15% dropout rate. These people went back to the streets.

    Given the initial population, I think that is a fantastic result.

  26. 27
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Kate,

    Despite your aggressive accusations, I am actually interested in knowing the truth about this.

    I’m not sure why you are saying this. I never accused you of being dishonest or not wanting to know the truth.

    I do think that you have a tendency to link to very progressive sites whose biases are in line with the thing the link is supposed to show. They therefor have a tendency to be biased to present the evidence in the best possible light for their (and your) argument, sometimes even to such an extent that it can be called a falsehood.

    My comment was intended to make you consider looking for sources that are a bit less biased in the direction of the argument that is being made. I try to do the same thing with my sources when criticizing progressive excesses, often linking to sites like WaPo and the NYT. This is not a coincidence. I intentionally strongly favor sites whose biases go against my argument. Their presentation of the evidence in favor of my argument is often going to be robust, since they are not going to write down claims in favor of my argument unless the evidence for it is really strong.

    No one says billed healthcare went down by $1.8 million. I actually don’t know where the articles got the $1.8 million/year figure. According to the report, billed healthcare went down $2.4 million in the first two years (p.10).

    The ThinkProgress article you linked to, itself links to a Charlotte Observer article as its source of information, which gives this figure:

    The study, conducted by the university’s Department of Social Work, found Moore Place saved $1.8 million in its first year by drastically reducing the amount of time its tenants spent in emergency rooms (447 fewer visits) and admitted to hospitals (372 fewer days).

    Page 10 is a summary of the sub-reports that are reproduced later on. The $1.8 million used in the article seems to come from table 24 on page 37, where one of the two hospital systems saved $1.8m in billed care. I don’t understand why the article picked this figure though, because I don’t see a significant difference between the two hospital systems. The most likely explanation seems to be a hasty journalist making an error. As an aside, this is why I often look for original sources, because mistakes, cherry picking or other such issues are quite common.

    But, you fail to note costs NOT included in hospital billing data, including […] They also don’t calculate the savings on law enforcement

    I actually addressed this last bit in my comment: “Of course, the article also didn’t quantify the costs in reducing policing costs.”

    My argument is not that the costs are necessarily higher than the the savings, but that the presented evidence is too poor to draw conclusions one way or the other. Claims that it is certain that the savings are higher or even 3 times higher are thus not justified.

    Ultimately, I think that people are making a bad choice when making such unjustified claims that try to present policies as a slam-dunk with no real downsides. It polarizes society. On the one hand you have people who already strongly favor the policies who become convinced that no proper counterarguments exists and that everyone on the other side is thus completely stupid; while on the other hand you have people who are more critical of the policies who get frustrated that the response to their concerns consists of unjustified claims based on falsehoods and who can become convinced that those who favor the policies don’t care about facts.

    I think they were pretty transparent about [asking for rent]. I’m not sure why you see that as a problem.

    We started off with a claim that giving people housing was a good thing to do. When I pushed back, you gave me this example where the housing is not given, but very heavily subsidized. This is less progressive and more in line with a bit more conservative/moderate thinking, where a quid-pro-quo tends to be more favored (and assumed to work better).

    In general, it seems like certain framing works better to convince people with certain ideologies. The reason why I pointed out the rent was actually not so much for your benefit, but to try to make certain other, more conservative/moderate readers more sympathetic to the idea of helping the homeless with housing.

    No, the reverse. They were cherry-picking the highest cost homeless, to try to produce the highest returns on investment. I think they were pretty transparent about that. Two quotes from the report:

    Good catch, I missed that. Although…I actually said least problematic, not least costly. People tend to age out of crime and such, so it’s still possible that the solution works for the selected group, but not so well for other homeless people. However, the quotes do strongly suggest that the people were not selected for having few problems, which makes this far less likely.

    Given the initial population, I think that [a 15% dropout rate] is a fantastic result.

    Sure, but it would still mean that if the solution is implemented for all ~600 homeless people in Charlotte and works equally well for them, you have 90 people for whom it doesn’t work. For all of America, that would be 83,000 people still on the streets.

    Of course, solving 85% of a problem is great, but it still means we need other solutions for the remaining 15%.

  27. 28
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    lurker23,

    i read that we would have alot more black engineers and alot more black doctors with less aa because they keep letting people into supergood schools under aa where they are at the bottom of their class. but the people who graduate with an engineer degree are usually high up in the class because it is hard, so they drop out of that program and never become engineers.

    When it comes to role models & such, it is a good question what is better: to have some more black people with an Ivy degree who are often poor to mediocre in their field at a cost of many people dropping out or way more good black engineers & doctors with a less prestigious degree.

    Interestingly, black people who do well seem to be far less eager than white people to escape low income neighborhoods, which should theoretically mean that black people who do well make for better role models in their neighborhoods than white people who do well (unless role models don’t work that way*).

    * Research into role models tends to find that the impact is not very impressive.

    but if they go to mit they STILL might be one of the worst students in the school and especially in the engineer program. so they will end up probably dropping engineering.

    Indeed. It may be better for black people if more of them become engineers & doctors at second-tier universities, rather than have these people get less practical Ivy diplomas, while their spots at the second-tier universities are taken by others who are also below average for that environment and who also tend to pick easy majors. Engineering jobs are more easily to be found even for those with few connections, so this could help a lot with upward mobility. I suspect that (less qualified) black people who mostly are from a less advantaged background get less of a benefit from the networking opportunities at Ivy league universities anyway, just like others from less advantaged backgrounds.

    In the West many seem to believe that the barriers between the classes are overwhelmingly access-related, but my experience and observation is that culture and wealth-based barriers are very significant. IMO, more attention should be paid to these, rather than to assume that merely getting people access to a path of success for the better off, will automatically allow these people to travel that same path.

  28. 29
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    I’ve also seen horror stories about remedial education for college students where there’s a failure to check on what the student already knows. This is dispiriting for students who actually want to learn things and don’t have time to waste.

    I can easily believe both that students go in ill-prepared and that remedial education is sloppily executed.

  29. 30
    Ampersand says:

    The only reason to use race is if you don’t care about the underlying reality or injustices and instead just care about the numbers at a superficial level.

    Or if you care about racism. (In addition to, not instead of, economic class.)

  30. 31
    desipis says:

    Or if you care about racism. (In addition to, not instead of, economic class.)

    What form of racism are you talking about? If you’re talking about direct explicit racism, then sure that should be tackled head on (albeit in a racially neutral way, such as simply prohibiting racial discrimination).

    However, my comment was addressing Harlequin’s observation about SES status and going to worse schools. Addressing those issues directly will indirectly address the indirect forms of racism, without needing to directly discriminate based on race.

  31. 32
    lurker23 says:

    Harlequin says:
    February 13, 2019 at 12:20 pm
    I am absolutely saying, for example, that the average black woman with the same qualifications I had should have gotten into better schools than I did

    that is the kind of aa that i think most people like! it is where you set qualification FIRST and then apply aa SECOND.

    so that is like saying ‘we require a 1400 sat. this person has a 1400 sat, but they are black so we will choose them instead of other people who are not black.’ that is a kind of aa that alot of people are okay with, and that ALREADY happens for a small number of people.

    like if you look at white and asian people who scored a 1400 or better sat then you will find that alot of them get rejected at alot of schools, and alot of them never get into the top 10 schools at all. that is because there are alot more “qualified” white and asian people who want to go to an ivy than the ivys will take.

    but if you look at the small number (2600) of black people who score at 1400 or better sat you will find that almost all of them get into almost all the schools they apply to and most of them also will get at least one if not many admits to the very top schools because there are alot less “qualified” black people than the ivies want.

    this happens all the way down. if you are asian and if you have a 1190 sat you are not even in the top HALF of asians! if you are white you are not even in the top third. so you are not going to get into alot of top 25 schools with an 1190 sat if you are white, or asian.

    but if you are black then you can get an 1190 which is NOT a very good score (alot of top white and asian people are getting that score in 10th grade)
    and you are still in the top ten percent of all black people. so any college that was going to let in a white or asian person with a 1190 would rather have a black person with an 1190 of course, they already do, and those people get in easier.

    that is the “everyone mostly thinks it is okay” part of aa.

    but the other part of aa comes because for the reasons i said, colleges start to run out of smart-enough and educated-enough black people! they WANT to be able to say “we want alot of people with 1200 sat, we have alot of applications with 1200 sat, so lets choose alot of black people.” but they cannot! because there are not enough of them.

    so then the schools start saying “well maybe we didn’t REALLY mean we wanted a 1200 sat, we would be okay with an 1150” but that does not have enough black applications either so they start going down the chain and next thing you know they are letting in black people with a 950 sat even while they are telling white and asian people that they really need a 1200 sat to be considered.

    maybe that is okay! but i think that is not so obvious that it is okay. also i think it is not obvious that it is a good thing for the black people involved because after aa they are not usually the smartest people or even the middle people in their class and i do not think that is good. (but in the end i think it is up to the black people to make their own choice, it is not up to me, even if i think it is a bad choice.)

    and whether or not you think it IS okay, it is also alot different from the “good aa” of “giving a preference to someone who is qualified the same and just happens to be black.”

    if it were me i would have alot less aa about moving black people into higher schools. i would focus on the other kind of aa where you make sure black people get into some schools where they are more in the middle, and i would also want alot more aa when it comes to making sure that black people would not not-go to school because they could not afford it (alot of lower schools do not have as much money.)

  32. 33
    Harlequin says:

    A couple of long replies incoming…first, to LimitsOfLanguage:

    Ultimately, the fact that Asians do better in academia than white people and are most disadvantaged by AA is incompatible with the SJ narrative that the different success rates of ethnic groups is entirely due to oppression of people of color by the majority of white people.

    Broadly speaking, adult Asian immigrants in this country are way more likely than the typical resident to be college grads and to have high incomes. The SJ prediction is not “Asian kids must be doing worse than white kids bc racism” but “Asian kids must be doing worse than white kids of a similar SES background bc racism”, and the latter is true. As to why they’re more likely to be college grads and have high-income jobs in the first place: racist immigration laws that mean low-income or unskilled Asian workers mostly have not come to the US at all.

    Ill-prepared students don’t magically become capable if you let them into colleges.

    This is trivially true, but not that relevant to the discussion we were having. I worry that people are thinking of AA programs and remembering problems with, like, the way some universities accept students for their sports ability who are seriously behind in academics, or the way some for-profit universities maliciously target URM* students and then give them no support so they have massive dropout rates and debt. But those pools of students are very different from the ones getting accepted to selective universities through diversity-focused AA programs. Even though the mean performance of black students is much lower than white students in the US…the pool of URM students getting into selective schools because of AA is still the top of the distribution of URM students, just like the white and Asian students getting into those schools are the top of the distribution of white and Asian students. This is especially true at the most elite universities, where the student quality is so high that they could accept several times as many students as they do without dropping the quality of the worst student in the class (because the difference between just-accepted and just-missed students is smaller than the uncertainty on being able to predict their college performance), so AA programs have a large component that is more like increasing your lottery chances from an equally capable pool than moving less capable students into the “acceptable” pile. I think your original quote comparing admissions rates comes from the expert report by Peter Arcidiacono; if you look at p. 31 of that report you can see that African-American and Hispanic students are way less likely to be put on a waitlist but then rejected than white or Asian students, which is consistent with (though not proof of) the idea that what’s going on is in large part an increase in the acceptance rate for borderline candidates, rather than an increase in acceptance rate for unacceptable-if-white-or-Asian candidates.

    I agree that the need for remediation is a problem at many universities. But that link you posted looked at almost a thousand two-year as well as four-year colleges–so many of the students addressed by that project aren’t getting into the kind of selective schools that have the kind of AA programs we were talking about. And white kids need remediation, too, if their school quality wasn’t great. Remediation isn’t a problem created or mainly driven by affirmative action.

    So I think that your side has a chronic tendency to do way too much ‘benevolent’ discrimination, especially since root causes are often unaddressed in favor of turning knobs that can’t offset societal unfairness.

    The problem with this framing is that ‘my side’ isn’t in charge of everything, or even, necessarily, in charge of that much. I don’t think there’s anyone I know who prefers a large AA effect, in theory, to adequately funding and supporting public schools that serve minority students, for example. It’s just that we can’t make that happen on our own and there are huge sections of society who actively oppose it. So we force through limited policies where we have the power to do it. (Also, for what it’s worth, I’m usually the only commenter here who engages a lot on AA in college admissions. So while I’m happy to identify with people I think are fighting the good fight, I would caution you against assuming that my particular opinions are representative of anybody but me!)

    If you abolish AA, the whole student body is not going to be wealthy and white. That is certainly not going to be the case if you replace AA with a SES-based policy. You are engaging in sophistry with such an absurd claim.

    It was a thought experiment, intended to be the simplest and most extreme case so it’s easier to think through the value of adding diversity, separate from the other competing considerations that happen in the real world. I didn’t think anybody would take a 100% white and wealthy university student body as a serious example of a real-world institution, precisely because it was so artificial. If something I said seems ridiculous like that, you can always just ask me what I meant instead of calling me a liar.

    Secondly, the opportunities for learning may not meaningfully be reduced in many cases. If I am studying math, then there is no black or white math, no rich or poor math.

    A college education at a selective institution isn’t straightforward job training or a set of facts that you just download into your brain. Many positions that require a college degree don’t really care what you majored in; they’re looking for–well, a certificate with certain class markers, which is a separate huge problem–but also a general sense that you have studied, learned a bit how to think, learned certain practices of doing regular work and how to interact with different people.

    But your statement isn’t right even on its own merits. Most math problems don’t have one right way to solve them–there are many different approaches, and even within broadly similar approaches you can usually perform the steps in several different permutations of order, with different implications for how you think about the problem. If what you have is a bunch of students mostly from similar backgrounds, taught mostly from similar textbooks, they’re more likely to solve problems in similar ways, and therefore actually learn less about math than if they were exposed to a wider range of approaches. Peer interaction and peer learning is a critical part of the learning process. There may not be rich math or poor math, but there is definitely John’s way of doing math and Jane’s way of doing math and your way of doing math and my way of doing math, and the more of them you’ve seen the better you are. Race isn’t the most important axis here, but personal diversity in general absolutely does make a difference in your opportunities for learning, even in fields like math.

    Affirmative action is discrimination against people by race based on non-academic qualifications. That’s what it is!

    You can’t favor a policy and then run away from its negative consequences that are unavoidably part of that policy.

    Let me quote Amp’s summary:

    Asian students are correct to think they’re being discriminated against in admissions. But that discrimination isn’t due to formal AA programs benefiting minorities, but due to informal racism for the benefit of white applicants.

    Since I am convinced by the evidence that white people, all other things being equal, have more advantages in US society than other racial groups, I favor policies that raise nonwhite students’ application evaluations relative to white students’, and do not favor policies that lower nonwhite students’ application evaluations relative to white students’. You clearly don’t agree, and that’s fine, but I think it’s straightforward.

    * I realized after writing this comment that that might not be a common acronym outside academia–“underrepresented minority”, if you haven’t run into it before.

  33. 34
    Harlequin says:

    lurker, I wrote this in reply to an earlier comment of yours before I saw #32, but I think this plus my last comment to LimitsOfLanguage should address the later one…

    that is true if the idea is to let people in because of “hard they work.” but i do not think that is how it is.

    People do get into college based partly on how hard they work. It’s not a sufficient condition, to get you in on its own, but conscientious effort is necessary to succeed in college and universities look for signs of it in your application. High test scores that are not matched by a very high GPA are going to raise some flags for admissions staff. One buzzword that’s getting passed around my educational circles at the moment is “grit”, or how well a person can keep diligently working through stress and setbacks. I’ve seen some claims that grit is a better predictor of graduate school performance than more traditional measures like standardized tests and GPA. While I’m not totally convinced by those claims–it’s hard to measure, among other things–I do agree with the general principle that ability to persevere through difficulty is important for success in higher education.

    say you have an aa person who was good at high school math but did not get to take calculus in high school. and they are smart. and maybe they got a 1450 math score on that part of the sat. so they are very much in the top 1% of black students.

    and this person will do well at alot of places!!! but if they go to mit they STILL might be one of the worst students in the school and especially in the engineer program. so they will end up probably dropping engineering.

    It’s hard to find data on this, but I believe most test prep programs, taken faithfully, can raise your score by around 100 points. So your 1450 student with a test prep boost is a 1550 student–right in line with the other students in their class. Now, in gaining that 100 points they have learned essentially nothing that will actually help them in class; that’s one of the reasons you can’t use differences in SAT scores to judge differences in ability. (Some of the non-AA kids will have gotten that 100 point boost to get their 1500+ score, too.) Not having taken calculus will be more of an issue, but–again–there will be non-AA students that’s true for, too; that’s a kind of education MIT is well-suited to provide.

    And, again, there seem to be effects like stereotype threat that cause URM students to do worse on the SAT, even once you account for all the other stuff we know how to account for. Basically, again, “SAT score” and “ability/preparation” are not interchangeable, and because of the demographic group-based bias, differences in SAT will exaggerate ability/preparation differences between groups. (In fact, the main reason I harp on this issue even though I’m not 100% sold on every implementation of AA is that I want to be clear that “these two students look the same on paper” and “these two students are equally talented and equally prepared” are not interchangeable concepts, even on average, and especially when we’re talking about students from different minoritized groups.)

  34. 35
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    lurker23,

    You can also look at it completely differently: can we improve the pre-college education, culture and circumstances of black, hispanic, white, etc people so they can compete (better) with Asians? This has the advantage of actually addressing the causes, rather than a symptom. It also doesn’t make society worse, which does happen if you favor the less capable. Less capable students make for less capable graduates, which make for less capable workers, which makes society worse off.

    Although we then may also want to confront difficult questions about the extent to which society should push people for success. Ironically, for all the dislike of capitalism that I often see in SJ circles, I usually only see the recognition that societal success can be withheld by oppression, but rarely that oppression can push people to success at the expense of their happiness and well being. Tiger moms are an example.

    The Academy Award winning film Character, based on a 1938 book, investigates how tyranny can drive people out of complacency, to huge success or to huge failure (the latter is not investigated in the movie or book, but inexorably part of the equation).

    I would recommend this film (and/or the book) to many here, as it might help them recognize the common mistake of characterizing dichotomy-inducing oppression* as privilege.

    * So oppression where people are hurt (or denied help) when they fail, which pushes many people to sacrifice a lot to succeed. This oppressed group will then be over-represented among the most successful, but often also have a subgroup that suffers the most, although the latter group is often invisible to society, including to many activists.

  35. 36
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Harlequin,

    Broadly speaking, adult Asian immigrants in this country are way more likely than the typical resident to be college grads and to have high incomes.

    That is certainly true of the current migrants from India that go work in IT. However, native born Asians whose ancestors came in earlier migration waves also mostly do better on average, many of which consisted of people who faced various kinds of serious disadvantage.

    For a long time, they had lower incomes than white people, yet have had higher upward mobility for a long time now, allowing them to overtake whites.

    The SJ prediction is not “Asian kids must be doing worse than white kids bc racism” but “Asian kids must be doing worse than white kids of a similar SES background bc racism”, and the latter is true.

    Asians used to have lower incomes and used to face similar issues with being seggregated into their own schools like black people. Yet they overcame this quite rapidly once the oppression lessened, to a point where they are now being discriminated against for being too successful.

    Meanwhile, the black community doesn’t seem to be able to do this, to the same extent, when discrimination greatly lessened, which IMO pretty strongly suggests that endogenous causes for their problems are a major issue.

    Even though the mean performance of black students is much lower than white students in the US…the pool of URM students getting into selective schools because of AA is still the top of the distribution of URM students, just like the white and Asian students getting into those schools are the top of the distribution of white and Asian students.

    This is only relevant from a identity politics perspective, where opportunities are not primarily granted by ability, but firstly by race and only secondly by ability.

    There are serious downsides with this, including that subgroups with a successful subculture don’t get to benefit from this and that society doesn’t get to benefit as much from successful subcultures.

    Another huge downside is that the groups that are considered are often fairly subjective chosen. Jews do way better than gentiles in access to Ivy’s and they in fact used to face similar discrimination that Asians do now. However, nowadays an overrepresentation of Jews is somehow considered OK and the underrepresentation of gentile whites not an issue, while too many Asians is considered wrong.

    if you look at p. 31 of that report you can see that African-American and Hispanic students are way less likely to be put on a waitlist but then rejected than white or Asian students, which is consistent with (though not proof of) the idea that what’s going on is in large part an increase in the acceptance rate for borderline candidates, rather than an increase in acceptance rate for unacceptable-if-white-or-Asian candidates.

    The argument of the report is the opposite: that a waitlist reject is more borderline than a direct acceptance or reject. So the higher waitlisting for Asians then suggests that the pool of Asians candidates is really strong, with such small gaps between candidates that it’s less obvious when a candidate is (not) good enough, while the gaps between black candidates are bigger, because there are fewer good black candidates.

    Given that the standards for blacks are lower, what is actually happening is then that the weakest Asian candidates are rejected, that are almost as good as the worst Asian student that is accepted, in favor of a black candidates, who are not almost as good at the next worst black student.

    Furthermore, given that the worst Asian student that is accepted is way better than the worst black student that is accepted, AA does make the level of accepted students quite a bit worse.

    This is especially true at the most elite universities, where the student quality is so high that they could accept several times as many students as they do without dropping the quality of the worst student in the class.

    Without AA discrimination this would be correct, but when a large number of spots are reserved for black students, these students ‘have’ to come from a much smaller and lower quality pool of candidates.

    Remediation isn’t a problem created or mainly driven by affirmative action.

    Perhaps, although I very commonly see anti-racists at colleges demand more help for black students, which suggests that they do see this problem as being connected to race.

    It was a thought experiment, intended to be the simplest and most extreme case so it’s easier to think through the value of adding diversity, separate from the other competing considerations that happen in the real world.

    I don’t share your apparent belief that it is obvious that adding a rich black person to a white and wealthy environment is more beneficial than adding a poor white person. Note that I’ve heard several whites from a poor background talk about how they were excluded when certain expenses or experiences were considered normal or the discrimination they faced in progressive places/spaces, especially if they have a ‘redneck’ accent.

    Your thought experiment also implies that the poor and non-white are equally likely to be excluded in the absence of special favors. I suspect that the poor are worse off in this regard, especially if we don’t limit non-white to blacks.

    Many positions that require a college degree don’t really care what you majored in; they’re looking for–well, a certificate with certain class markers, which is a separate huge problem–but also a general sense that you have studied, learned a bit how to think, learned certain practices of doing regular work and how to interact with different people.

    True, but part of the marker is the selection effect. When employers started to correctly perceive that colleges had become less selective, they became more likely to demand a college degree on the low end & more likely to demand more than just a college degree at the high end. Similarly, when high schools became less selective, colleges starting demanding (far) more from prospective students than just a high school diploma.

    Affirmative action reduces the selection effect, which has consequences (including a potential increase in racism).

    I see your analysis as being the cause of a common progressive mistake. When a signal is identified as being used to give or refuse favors, attempts are often made to try to equalize society by equalizing signalling, either by removing the ability to signal or to allow everyone to signal being in a top tier. The predictable result is that people will then move on to new signals, which ironically may then be a lot more unfair.

    For example, studies suggest that people prefer specific information about the person to stereotyping, but will use the latter when the former is absent. So hiding information or reducing the value of a signal, can result in more racism.

    There may not be rich math or poor math, but there is definitely John’s way of doing math and Jane’s way of doing math

    On second thought, there actually may be math with a discriminatory component. Reformers have tried to make math easier by turning math into stories, but this seems to harm those with poor reading skills, often non-natives. Anyway, your argument that personal diversity matters is of course true, but this is not a justification for group-diversity initiatives like AA, which do not try to maximize personal diversity (in fact, SJ is known to ‘deplatform’ diversity of thought).

    Since I am convinced by the evidence that white people, all other things being equal, have more advantages in US society than other racial groups

    But are white people actually a single ethnic group?

    Historically they aren’t, as Jewish, Irish and Italian Americans can attest.

    Contemporarily, Appalachian white people seem to be strong discriminated against for their ethnicity, being dissimilar enough to be discriminated against, but not too dissimilar to ‘count’ as an oppressed minority. Is that fair?

    Jews are heavily over-represented in the Ivy league, in top positions and among the upper class. To what extent is the advantage that you assume is present for all white people actually only present for Jews? Do you favor that gentile students’ application evaluations are raised compared to those of Jews?

    You say that your support for affirmative action follows from how you see the facts, but I think that your ideology only allows you to see facts that fit a certain narrative.

  36. 37
    lurker23 says:

    Harlequin says:
    February 18, 2019 at 11:58 pm
    Even though the mean performance of black students is much lower than white students in the US…the pool of URM students getting into selective schools because of AA is still the top of the distribution of URM students, just like the white and Asian students getting into those schools are the top of the distribution of white and Asian students.

    yes but the means are very different because the groups are so far off.
    the top black students and the top asian students are not the same at all even at elite universities until/unless you get to the absolutest top and even then.

    to show you what i mean here is an example of a girl i know very well, she is the daughter of a very good friend, she talks to me alot about this.

    she will graduate public high school with maybe a 3.8 average, all hard courses. she already has a 1500 sat as a junior (she never took a course, just studied khan online for free and bought a $20 book of tests), probably she will end up with a 1550 after spending maybe 200 hours studying. she will graduate with advanced placement tests in: english, physics, calculus, biology, chemistry, environmental science, computer science, and statistics, and she will get 4 or 5 on them all (highest score is a 5). she works hard all the time.

    now her school is not in a city or a really rich suburb, there are plenty of poor people there. it is not a magnet school. her school is not that big. in terms of scores and faculty she is not even in one of the top schools in her state, not even close.

    so she is the top student you think? no not even close!! even in her own not-big school she is not in the top 5% AND that is counting the vocational students, AND her school hardly has any asian people. if she lived in new york she would probably not have managed to get into any of the exam schools, or she would just have squeaked in. if she was at an exam school she would be in the bottom third.

    overall she is a very very good student! but not a genius, she is just plain old smart.

    the really super smart people who end up at mit and harvard are like the people in her class who are ahead of her, they are taking calculus as sophomores or juniors, and never getting an A-, and taking even more APs and getting 5s on them, and getting 1550 on the sat instead of 1500, and taking college courses in high school. and even THOSE people do not usually get into harvard or MIT.

    so for this girl: she is very very smart. but there are ALOT of people who are even better, often much better, and the most elite schools are filled with the second kind of people.

    wow, right?

    here is what will happen to her:

    she will not be recruited by any elite schools. she will not get into harvard or mit. she might get into a different top 5 school but it is unlikely. she is not even close to being competitive for any “national” scholarship and none of the top schools will give her any money at all, if she even gets in. she will probably get into some top 15 school if she applies to them all, she will definitely get into some top 15-25 schools, but none of them will give her money, so she will probably go to a school ranked more like 100, and try to get some money.

    that is okay because she would NOT necessarily do all that well if she went to harvard or mit because those schools are able to only admit students who are even *more* smart and more educated and more advanced than she is, like if she is top 1-2% they only take the top 0.2%.

    now, if she were black she would probably be one of the top students in the country and she would probably get into every single school she applied to. they would also give her alot of money.

    i think it is perfectly fair that she would get in easily and get money if she were black! that is the easy kind of aa to like.

    but as i said: there are ALOT of people who are even better, often much better, and the most elite schools are filled with the second kind of people. like i said for her, she would NOT necessarily do all that well if she went to harvard or mit because those schools are able to only admit students who are even *more* smart and more educated and more advanced than she is, like if she is top 1-2% they only take the top 0.2%

    so that part does not change if she is black, and if she is black it is more likely that she would have worse classes and scores, so she would need to work even harder just to catch up. and assuming they let in more black students than just her the others would probably have WORSE scores and classes and education than she did, and she is already not near the top.

    so when you say “the student quality is so high that they could accept several times as many students as they do without dropping the quality of the worst student in the class (because the difference between just-accepted and just-missed students is smaller than the uncertainty on being able to predict their college performance),” i do not think that is true.

    what’s going on is in large part an increase in the acceptance rate for borderline candidates, rather than an increase in acceptance rate for unacceptable-if-white-or-Asian candidates.

    i do not see how you can make those things sound different. why is this a “rather?” i am missing something.

    It’s hard to find data on this, but I believe most test prep programs, taken faithfully, can raise your score by around 100 points

    this is not really true, or if it is true it does not mean what you are suggesting. people like to talk about test prep like it is magic. it is not magic. it is like one of those diet books that say how much you can lose if you “faithfully follow the rules” where the differenc has nothing to do with the instructions in the book, it just has to do with the “faithfully” part.

    like here is part of the princeton review course:

    18 hours of focused class time
    3 scheduled, proctored practice tests (4 hours each)
    Homework assignments tailored to you

    if you do no homework at all you are still doing an absolute minimum of 30 hours of specific sat focused studying work! but that is still not “faithfully.” if you do homework like they say you will do alot more.

    so this is selecting for people who are willing to spend alot of time studying and taking sat classes. so if you want to look at “what test prep does” you have to compare it to people who study those same hours, and who are also motivated, then you will not find any difference i don’t think.

    you can see why that is not really true also, because the biggest prep in the world is khan online and it is completely free! and khan includes alot of practice tests for free! so it has nothing to do with taking a class, it has to do with whether you want to study. if you study alot, you will raise your score by 100 points (not that much actually especially if it was low to start with) but this is because you study not because you took a class.

    anyone who is black can take khan online like my friend did. anyone who is black can buy a sat book for $15-20 like she did. anyone who is black can spend 100 hours studying until 1am, like my friend.

    if they do it they will get a better sat. if they dont they will not.

    Basically, again, “SAT score” and “ability/preparation” are not interchangeable, and because of the demographic group-based bias, differences in SAT will exaggerate ability/preparation differences between groups.

    they are pretty close and one of the best things we have.

    most of the studies that claim to show they are really different are flawed in some way, usually because they assume the groups have to be the same at entry and then they assume that any differences are a problem in the test.

    like if you wanted to answer “is the test defective or do asian students just know more than blacks” one obvious way would be to find a test that has some sort of agreed academic stuff and where where blacks do better than asians.

    this test does not exist. because math is math.

    seriously, everyone, including the sat people, is desperately trying to come up with a test that lets black and white and asian people score the same on ability/preparation and they cant… because as groups, they are not the same! by the time you are 17-18 alot of your mental state has started to develop and alot of that is based on what happened in the last 17 years, and so it is not surprising at all that bad education/culture would lead to differences in ability.

    HERE IS A GOOD WAY TO SHOW THIS:
    imagine that the naacp said “hey everyone we hate the sat and it is bad for black people so we are writing a new test that covers the same academic stuff, we think it will show same scores for white asian and black people” and everyone agreed to use it.

    if you were right then 5 years later the scores for white asian and black people would be the same.

    if i am right then the white and asian people will just start studying hard for the new test and 5 years later the gap will be back, just as bad. this is NOT because black people are dumb! the gap is based on bad education, and lack of knowledge, and bad training in how to think critically, and there is no way to pretend that those differences do not exist, and there is no way to hide them in any kind of well drawn academic test.

    do you think i am wrong?

    also:

    Limits said to Harlequin:
    You say that your support for affirmative action follows from how you see the facts, but I think that your ideology only allows you to see facts that fit a certain narrative.

    Limits, i do not think that was fair.

  37. 38
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    I’m 100% not trying to stir things up and cause trouble, but I have a question for anyone here who is firmly entrenched in American leftwing politics: what’s with the Bernie Sanders hate from some progressives, and especially feminists? I ask because I just encountered some of this on one of Angus Johnston’s Twitter threads.

    It’s definitely a thing I’ve seen before on social media, and it’s clearly a very touchy subject. I have a couple of family members on my wife’s side who seem to share much of Bernie’s politics, but also seem to despise him, and given the back and forth I saw on social media, I think my asking “why?” would be seen as a challenge, rather than an honest inquiry, so I thought I’d try here.

    I’m not in any way a Bernie bro, as I tend to favor centrist Democrats, but I’m puzzeled as to why people way to my left also don’t like the man.

    Am I missing something obvious?

  38. 39
    Ampersand says:

    My guess is, it’s residue from the Bernie/Hillary primary, which has left a significant number of partisans on both sides feeling bitter. (Cartoon.)

  39. 40
    Mandolin says:

    Yeah, I think it’s:

    A: Actually targetted at the dead-ender Bernie people, using him as a proxy, which isn’t really fair, but seems like pretty normal rhetorical slippage.

    B: Actually targetted not even at the dead-ender Bernie people, but at any Bernie supporter they had an upsetting argument with during the primary, or even at the general feeling of anger they had during the primary.

    C: Anger about how the primary evolved, especially Bernie digging in at the end in a way that could have damaged our position

    D: Anger about Bernie as a symbol for the way women are treated as lesser in the political realm in general, which again isn’t fair, but is pretty normal.

    E: Legitimate objections to his policies, especially since people expressing disagreement with his policies may feel like they are marginalized, and be angry about that marginalization.

    F: People are weird.

  40. 41
    lurker23 says:

    i think it is mostly terror about bernie getting into trouble and losing the election to trump. or bernie somehow pulling people generally away from the left.

    there is also alot of it i think that is a fear of bernie pulling away some of the men away from the other candidates most of who are women (alot of the progressive and feminist people are probably going to assume that men are less likely to vote for women and they would think this was unfair.)

  41. 42
    J. Squid says:

    There’s also the sexual harassment that took place in the Sanders presidential campaign. I imagine that has something to do with what Jeffrey Gandee has been hearing.

  42. 43
    Kate says:

    the really super smart people who end up at mit and harvard are like the people in her class who are ahead of her, they are taking calculus as sophomores or juniors, and never getting an A-, and taking even more APs and getting 5s on them, and getting 1550 on the sat instead of 1500, and taking college courses in high school. and even THOSE people do not usually get into harvard or MIT.

    The tone of hero worship here is absurd. Even the English and Polysci majors took calculus as sophmores or juniors? Do you have any evidence to back that up? “Really super smart” can’t be measured on standardized tests. “Really super smart” requires creative thought. That’s really hard to measure. It’s not about answering a bunch of multiple choice questions with known answers. Its finding answers to questions that haven’t been answered yet…or asking & then answering new questions.
    Most of the people who I know who went to undergrad at Harvard went to feeder schools and/or they’re legacies. They never got A-‘s because they never took risks like taking calculus before they were confident they would get the A. Sure, they’re smart. But most are nothing out of the ordinary. Most of the people I know who teach at these schools didn’t go to them as undergrads – some of them did, but most of them didn’t. It wasn’t because they weren’t smart enough, it was because they didn’t have the connections yet.

    she will not be recruited by any elite schools. she will not get into harvard or mit. she might get into a different top 5 school but it is unlikely. she is not even close to being competitive for any “national” scholarship and none of the top schools will give her any money at all, if she even gets in. she will probably get into some top 15 school if she applies to them all, she will definitely get into some top 15-25 schools, but none of them will give her money, so she will probably go to a school ranked more like 100, and try to get some money.
    that is okay because she would NOT necessarily do all that well if she went to harvard or mit because those schools are able to only admit students who are even *more* smart and more educated and more advanced than she is, like if she is top 1-2% they only take the top 0.2%.

    Actually, she might be recruited if she’s really good at lacrosse, or the best at playing an obscure musical instrument, like the oboe. If she were a he, being really good at football would make him a shoe in. And the people who get in for those things do just fine.

  43. 44
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    lurker23,

    Limits, i do not think that was fair.

    I think that it is perfectly fair to suggest that the existence of more and less successful white subgroups is routinely ignored because it doesn’t fit with the ideology.

    I’ve never had a SJ advocate seriously address how the clear facts about these groups can be explained by their ideology, nor have I seen it addressed by SJ academics. I understand why, because you can’t face these facts within the SJ ideology without coming to conclusions that are either inconsist with SJ claims or policies, or which are rather nasty. However, by ignoring the flaws of an ideology, the problems and harms that result from policies based on that ideology, which will reflect the ideological flaws, won’t disappear.

    If group-level success or failure is always caused by systemic oppression that preserves hierarchies and keeps the man down, then Appalachian white failures invalidate affirmative action (merely) based on race. After all, this group has a lower per capita income than black people. The Ivy league universities are not even reporting how many Appalachian whites they take in and SJ ideology seems to argue that ignoring oppressed people and their experience is a large injustice. So when they report on black applicants and how many are accepted, and platform black experiences, but do not do so for Appalachian whites, another injustice is present, if SJ ideology would be applied fairly.

    Much worse, it means that Jewish success must be because Jews benefit from Jewish privilege: society being set up to make it far easier for Jews to succeed, gain power, etc. So at this point, a consistent application of SJ ideology is legitimizing alt-right conspiracies about society being set up to advantage Jews at the expense of gentiles.

    It seems to me that the only way out of this, that doesn’t involve simply ignoring the facts, is to adopt a far more nuanced position than to equate societal success or failure with benefiting from or suffering from societal oppression. Yet then the affirmative action policies that Harvard et all have adopted, which set a floor on the number of black students, which is rather close to the percentage of people in society that is black, then cannot be assumed to be a fair compensation for oppression that black people face.

    In general, the automatic assumption that different outcomes are due to oppression (like for the gender earnings gap), then is no longer a reasonable assumption.

  44. 45
    Ampersand says:

    LOL, constructing a simplistic strawman of “SJ claims,” and then complaining that your strawman lacks nuance, doesn’t seem like a strong argument.

    If group-level success or failure is always caused by systemic oppression that preserves hierarchies and keeps the man down, then Appalachian white failures invalidate affirmative action (merely) based on race.

    Who, precisely, has said that “systematic oppression that preserves hierarchies” is the only cause of group-level success or failure?

    Who is arguing that affirmative action should be based only on race? I’ve never once seen a lefty object to AA based on class; what we object to is the idea that it should be based only on class, with no consideration of race.

    Yet then the affirmative action policies that Harvard et all have adopted, which set a floor on the number of black students

    Citation, please? You’re talking about quotas, which I had thought have been illegal for a long time.

  45. 46
    Harlequin says:

    I don’t have time for a full reply to everything at the moment, but Amp, the expert report by Peter Arcidiacono that both LimitsOfLanguage and I have addressed went into this, and he thinks Harvard is deliberately ensuring that the fraction of black applicants they accept is the same fraction as all domestic applicants. I find the numbers pretty convincing. (PDF link, starts on p27.) Note that this is for Harvard alone, not “et al”.

  46. 47
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Ampersand,

    It is usually an implied axiom, that has to be true for the SJ claims and/or policies to make any sense.

    Harvard admits roughly as many black people as their percentage in the American population (13-18% vs a 17% share of the population). Yet the evidence suggests that without racial affirmative action, the share of students would be 3-8%. Note that this can be found in table 8.1/8.2 of the Arcidiacono report.

    The people who defended affirmative action here argued that this is defensible due to oppression that black people experience. Given that affirmative action at Harvard just about equalizes the black share in admissions to the black share in the population, the policy must assume that oppression explains just about the entire gap between black students and other ethnic groups. So it seems to me that those who defend the policy thus implicitly believe the same.

    Of course, if this conclusion seems wrong to anyone, please tell me.

    Perhaps it is instructive if we turn the question around: do lurker23, Harlequin or any other advocates for affirmative action want to argue that affirmative action should not seek to equalize the black share in admissions to the black share in the population; or that it should, but that this is then not merely justified as an attempt to undo oppression?

    If people do not want to argue this, then it seems to me that they do equate inequality of outcome with oppression. Perhaps not explicitly, but certainly implicitly in the policies they support.

  47. 48
    lurker23 says:

    Perhaps it is instructive if we turn the question around: do lurker23, Harlequin or any other advocates for affirmative action want to argue that affirmative action should not seek to equalize the black share in admissions to the black share in the population

    me?
    i do not think that college affirmative action should be based off of the black share in the “national population.”

    the more that people are different the less that i think aa can do. another way to say it is that i think i am using “population” different than you.

    so for example i think that if we did aa for “going to good schools when you are a kid” it would be okay to do alot of aa even if black people got MORE entrances than their share of the “kindegarden age” population, at that point the black and white population are the same, so this is what i think of as “good aa” where it does not have to do with quality and it helps to fix past oppression without causing alot of trouble in the systems.

    by the time you get to college black white asian are VERY different, like i said. and like i said i am okay if we try to make sure that the smart black students have enough money and connection to go to schools where they would not be at the bottom. like kindegarden i also do not care if that is MORE than national population.

    so for example i am okay if harvard and yale use aa to take every single one of the 2600 black people with more than a 1400 sat even if it means they are mostly black and way over national average. in my view this kind of thing is okay because it fixes past oppression without making alot of things worse.

    but i think that the differences in population are real by the time people get to college, and i do not like using aa to pretend that differences are not there. so i would not support using aa to try to make all colleges have a national percentage. i do not like giving a big ability boost through aa, because even though it might help to fix oppression it also makes alot of things much worse.

  48. 49
    RonF says:

    so for example i am okay if harvard and yale use aa to take every single one of the 2600 black people with more than a 1400 sat even if it means they are mostly black and way over national average.

    MIT classifies people as “underrepresented minorities” if the proportion of that classification of people is a minority in the U.S. population and if their percentage of the MIT undergraduate student population is less than their percentage of the U.S. population as a whole. On that basis, MIT offers admission to every black student who a) applies and b) has the requisite SAT scores and meets the other criteria that indicates they’ll succeed at the Institute. Yet blacks have been underrepresented minorities ever since the classification was created and are now.

  49. 50
    RonF says:

    Harlequin:

    Not having taken calculus will be more of an issue, but–again–there will be non-AA students that’s true for, too; that’s a kind of education MIT is well-suited to provide.

    You are misinformed.

    Mind you, at one time that was true – I didn’t take calculus before I went to MIT. But then, back when I was a HS senior very few high schools taught calculus (I wish mine had). But times have changed. I have interviewed at least 35 kids applying to MIT. Every single one took AP Calculus BC (I ask the kids to tell me all the AP courses they have taken). I have also sat in on regional presentations by people from MIT’s admissions office for local HS students. If you haven’t taken AP Calculus BC don’t bother to apply to MIT. And should you be among the 6.7% of applicants who get in, unlike many other schools you will NOT receive college credit for it; you still have to take at least 2 semesters of Calculus at the Institute based on a curriculum that presumes you have taken AP Calculus BC.

    25% of all students that MIT admitted got an 800 on their math SAT. 75% got 780 or higher. MIT does not do remedial education – certainly not in math.

    LimitsOfLanguage @ 47:

    Harvard admits roughly as many black people as their percentage in the American population (13-18% vs a 17% share of the population). Yet the evidence suggests that without racial affirmative action, the share of students would be 3-8%. Note that this can be found in table 8.1/8.2 of the Arcidiacono report. The people who defended affirmative action here argued that this is defensible due to oppression that black people experience.

    I wonder what the differential graduation rates are – and what majors they are graduating in?

  50. 51
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    One question that rarely comes up in these conversations:

    How valuable is a Harvard degree compared to a similar degree from a university a rung or to down the ladder? To what degree are denied asian students suffering damage from aa policies, and what is the benefit to Black students who do get in to a better school?

    Maybe none of this matters very much at all, and in the end, the job market places the same people in the same occupations at the same salaries with and without college AA. I honestly don’t know because much of the discussion around AA is focused on whether or not the policies are just, and not on whether the policies benefit/harm students in the long run.

  51. 52
    nobody.really says:

    MIT does not do remedial education – certainly not in math.

    Ok, maybe not MIT, and math. But maybe Stanford, and engineering:

    [E]ngineering educators are coming to assume that virtually all incoming students are deficient in real tactile, spatial, and mechanical experiences. Thus, what might be called remedial play courses have been developed. One such course is taught at Stanford University under the title Mechanical Dissection. In it, students disassemble and then reassemble such machines and devices as laser printers, fishing reels, and tenspeed bicycles. The hands-on experiences are intended to provide a feel for engineering that a generation or two ago students would have brought with them to the classroom.

    Henry Pestroski, Viewpoint: “Can Children of Cyberspace Become Engineers?”, 21st Century Science & Technology (Summer 1999).

  52. 53
    Petar says:

    25% of all students that MIT admitted got an 800 on their math SAT. 75% got 780 or higher. MIT does not do remedial education – certainly not in math.Math, no.

    English writing skills and Social Graces, yes :-)

    There is a joke in here, but I’ll let someone else make it.

  53. 54
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Lurker23,

    in my view this kind of thing is okay because it fixes past oppression […]

    It doesn’t, though.

    Affirmative action and similar identity-based advantages, like race- and gender-based student loans, stereotype people based on a trait, yet these are most beneficial to those who least conform to the stereotype. Those who are most disadvantaged by factors that reduce the quality of their pre-college education, are least likely to benefit.

    So these policies are actually regressive, not progressive.

    Imagine two black people, Malia and Thomas. Malia is the daughter of upper class black parents, lives in an extremely progressive neighborhood, goes to a great school, etc. Thomas was born to a lower class single black mother, lives in a crime-ridden neighborhood, went to a bad school, had to work next to school to make ends meet, etc. So Thomas is clearly disadvantaged compared to Malia, which will presumably be reflected in his educational record being poorer.

    Then an admittance policy which considers race & educational record will always admit Malia over Thomas. In other words, it will always admit the advantaged over the disadvantaged of the same ethnic group.

    When the justification for such a race-based policy is that it will benefit the disadvantaged, I thus see this as a falsehood, based on people applying racial stereotypes to individuals as if the stereotypes were this strong. I see that as racism, as I define racism as (falsely) treating individuals according to their stereotype.

    Then again, it’s not racist if one’s definition of racism ignores justice to individuals and is based on tribalism: black vs white.

    Note that studies have found that the claimed preference given to low SES students is actually minimal to non-existent. Harvard admits almost as many students from the top 0.1% as from the bottom 20%, more than half of the students come from the top 10% and 2/3rds of students come from the top 20%. The trend is towards increased stratification by parental income, so upward mobility is going down.

    Interestingly, the population of black students is actually quite different from the black population in American society, the more so the more selective the university. In the Ivy league, over 40% of the black students are of immigrant origin vs 13% of young black Americans. So it seems to me that those who still suffer the educational hurdles as an after-effect of American slavery and Jim Crow laws are unlikely to be beneficiaries.

    If you look at all the facts, I don’t see how one can defend affirmative action as a policy that helps the disadvantaged. I see no evidence that it actually works that way and lots of evidence that it doesn’t, unless the mere fact that someone is black is considered so much of a disadvantage that you are worse off being a rich black person than a poor white person. However, poor white people do way worse than rich black people on so many metrics, that I can’t see it that way.

  54. 55
    RonF says:

    Petar @ 53:

    Math, no. English writing skills and Social Graces, yes :-)

    When I went to MIT the sex ratio was male:female::10:1. There was exactly one female dorm, no sororities and one co-ed off-campus living group. Now it’s very close to 1:1 (still slightly more men than women). I’m told that one major contributor to the change was that MIT started giving more weight to the English SAT scores. The 25% and 75% scores are now 720 and 770.

    There is a joke in here, but I’ll let someone else make it.

    Through a series of odd coincidences I found myself back on the MIT campus about 10 years ago watching the women’s softball team. There were a few alumnae there that were my contemporaries. I got to talking to one of them and comparing notes on our experiences back in the day. She told me that the co-eds had a saying in those days: “The odds are good, but the goods are odd.” I responded “Guilty as charged.”

  55. 56
    lurker23 says:

    “25% of all students that MIT admitted got an 800 on their math SAT. 75% got 780 or higher. ”
    i think it is probably more than 25 because mit only tells the people about where the top 25% lands, it does not tell where the score of 800 lands, so the numbers would be the same if 74% of students got an 800. we only know it is between 25% and 75%

    that is extra true here because there is not alot of room between 780 and 800 (literally it is a single test question right or wrong to make that difference.) and of course it is MIT. so probably it is more like 50% get an 800 and 25% get a 780 and 25% is everyone else below a 780.

    LimitsOfLanguage says:
    February 21, 2019 at 3:59 am

    Imagine two black people, Malia and Thomas. Malia is the daughter of upper class black parents, lives in an extremely progressive neighborhood, goes to a great school, etc. Thomas was born to a lower class single black mother, lives in a crime-ridden neighborhood, went to a bad school, had to work next to school to make ends meet, etc. So Thomas is clearly disadvantaged compared to Malia, which will presumably be reflected in his educational record being poorer.

    okay, yes, but thomas and malia would both maybe get into school (different school) and compete against people who were not black.

    Then an admittance policy which considers race & educational record will always admit Malia over Thomas. In other words, it will always admit the advantaged over the disadvantaged of the same ethnic group.

    yes and i do not think there is a way around that, but i do not think you need to deal with that to repay past oppression! because malia and thomas are both black then malia does not owe thomas anything for black oppression, so i do not think fixing thomas is malias fault or problem?

    anyway malia maybe is good enough to rank at the 25% mark of harvard, most people at the 25% rank do not get in, so if she gets in because she is black she gets a benefit .

    thomas maybe is good enough to rank at the 25% mark of a state school, most people at the 25% rank do not get in, so if she gets in because she is black he gets a benefit also.

    When the justification for such a race-based policy is that it will benefit the disadvantaged

    but that is not what i said or meant! i am talking about aa to repay black people for a very certain type of oppression that happened against black people. if i wanted to help “disadvantaged” people that would be different since alot of “disadvantaged” people are not black, and also alot of black people are not “disadvantaged”.

  56. 57
    Ampersand says:

    It is usually an implied axiom, that has to be true for the SJ claims and/or policies to make any sense.

    This is a weird way to defend an utter strawman.

    The people who defended affirmative action here argued that this is defensible due to oppression that black people experience. Given that affirmative action at Harvard just about equalizes the black share in admissions to the black share in the population, the policy must assume that oppression explains just about the entire gap between black students and other ethnic groups. So it seems to me that those who defend the policy thus implicitly believe the same.

    (Just to clarify, do you believe that Harvard is representative of AA programs as a whole? Because you’re leaning on that one example a lot.)

    You’ve moved the goalposts. Earlier, you ascribed the view that “group-level success or failure is always caused by systemic oppression” to AA supporters, arguing that to be consistent AA supporters must therefore believe that gentiles are an oppressed class because Jews. So you were clearly describing ALL “group-level success or failure,” not Black students admission in particular.

    I believe that virtually the entire difference between Black and white admission rates at top colleges is due to the effects of racist oppression (indirect and historic effects included). It doesn’t follow from that one specific example that I think all “group-level success or failure is always caused by systemic oppression.”

    or that it should, but that this is then not merely justified as an attempt to undo oppression?

    I’d argue that mitigating the effects of racism is a very compelling reason to have AA that effectively racially diversifies college attendance (including elite college attendance). But I wouldn’t say it’s the only reason.

    Another reason – and this applies to elite colleges in particular – is that in our society, a hugely disproportionate proportion of the leadership class are the graduates of a small number of elite universities. I don’t want a ruling class made disproportionately of white people. (This same argument also applies to why I want more poor people attending those universities.)

    Another reason is that there’s good evidence that a student population drawn from diverse backgrounds is beneficial to the education of all students. (Again, also a reason to want more poor people attending college.) (The above two arguments are commonly made by AA proponents, by the way; I’m surprised that you’re apparently unaware of that).

    And another reason is that as a general principle, I think freedom should be the default state, and we should interfere with that only for compelling reasons. It’s clear that the people running institutions like Harvard WANT to include Black students, and I don’t see why they should not be allowed to have their preferences in this case. (And no, I wouldn’t say the same if Harvard wanted to exclude Black students; the examples are not interchangeable, for obvious reasons.)

    * * *

    Incidentally, I might be okay with replacing racial AA with economic AA, as long as the economic measures used are more sophisticated and inclusive than parental income. Using parental income alone – while ignoring geographic effects, neighborhood effects and wealth – is a racist policy because it disproportionately excludes economically disadvantaged Black and Latinx students.

    That said, my preference would be to rely primarily on economic AA (which, to be effective, would have to include significantly increasing the funding available to pay for higher education for impoverished students – admission alone is not enough) but to supplement that with some racial AA to benefit underrepresented minority students.

  57. 58
    nobody.really says:

    So now it’s official: Chicago police have arrested Jussie Smollett for filing a false police report that two people claiming to be from “MAGA Country” attacked him, used racial and homophobic taunts, and put a rope around his neck.

    I cringe to think about what Trump say to this—but you already know: “Fake noose!”

  58. 59
    nobody.really says:

    (My daughter sent me that, saying “I didn’t make it up, but feel free to share it with all your friends. Just don’t expect to have any friends.”)

  59. 60
    Kate says:

    I did a Nexis search of coverage of the Smollett incident in the week following his report that he had been attacked, and found the following:

    Almost no even slightly prominent liberal or left blog commented on the incident at all. (Wonkette had one piece).

    Neither did any of America’s most prominent liberal and left op-ed writers, and most particularly all two of the nation’s most prominent black opinion page contributors.

    This silence was of course a product of the fact that prominent liberal and left commentators were universally skeptical of Smollett’s story from the start, and reacted appropriately (by not saying anything until more facts came out).

    There were, however, lots of pieces in the right wing media about how a completely imaginary “rush to judgment” on the left demonstrated how PC rules everything and hate crimes are mostly made up and you can’t trust “the media” (except for them of course).link

  60. 61
    Harlequin says:

    lurker:

    do you think i am wrong?

    I don’t think you’re wrong; but at the same time, I don’t think I’m wrong, either. :) Basically, the difference between scores of kids of different races is the combination of many factors: differences in classwork, differences in critical thinking requirements in school, differences in test prep, other psychological stuff that is hard to quantify, other factors I haven’t thought of, I’m sure. I don’t base my opinion of the SAT on the fact that black students score less than white students, on average. The things that convince me the SAT is not very useful are, well, 1, some colleges that look at it find it isn’t that useful; 2, I’ve seen some data on the GRE (pretty similar to the SAT, but for graduating college seniors looking at grad school) that showed that students that had the same grad school GPA had different average GRE scores in a way that tracked with broad demographic groups; and 3, well, to be frank, whoever drew up my character sheet chose to max me out on the mostly-useless skill “performs well on standardized tests” for some reason, so I’m unusually aware of how much the SAT tracks “good at this specific kind of test” as well as other, more relevant things like “knows math.”

    The “good at this specific kind of test” is the part that test prep services can most effectively target: I’m guessing most of the benefit of SAT prep courses is just making you do a lot of practice tests and teaching you how to guess more effectively when you don’t know the answer. I can run some numbers with an example raw-score conversion table and easily produce gains of 50-100 points for moderate to low initial scores, simply by changing unanswered questions to random guesses. (One thing I didn’t consider, when proposing my 1450-to-1550 change, was that it actually gets harder to raise your score as your score gets higher, just because there’s less room for improvement; so that particular example was probably exaggerated.)

    I should also note that some of the lack of the SAT’s predictive power comes from the fact that the SAT scores at some institutions are so high, so the randomness in the scores is obscuring any real correlation between GPA and SAT. If UChicago’s 75% level SAT score was 1280 instead of 1480, there would probably be more of a correlation between SAT and GPA. (That would still be an average trend, and probably a different trend for different subgroups of people.)

    That’s probably enough ranting about the SAT from me. :)

  61. 62
    Harlequin says:

    LimitsOfLanguage, I think we’ve reached (or…long passed) the point where we’re unlikely to persuade each other, so I’ll just respond to a couple of things:

    I think that it is perfectly fair to suggest that the existence of more and less successful white subgroups is routinely ignored because it doesn’t fit with the ideology.

    Thing is, you didn’t suggest that social justice advocates as a whole routinely ignore less successful white subgroups. You said that I, specifically, did. (Actually, you made an even more sweeping claim than that, about my general ability to think critically about facts that disprove things I believe.) But that’s kinda weird, because in my comments here I have explicitly talked about discrimination or possible discrimination based on class, geographic location, and cultural differences, in addition to race. And I have also mentioned that broad racial categories mask differences in individual subgroups (specifically for Asians, but without excluding other groups), and have also mentioned intersectionality, which acknowledges that people may be privileged for some characteristics and disadvantaged from others. It’s true, I have mostly been talking about racial discrimination, but that’s because the original item in the link farm, and all replies to me, have also been talking mainly about racial discrimination. I haven’t been discussing, for example, class discrimination, because (as far as I can tell) everyone I was arguing with already agreed with me on that. For example, you claim that I said/implied a rich black person would add more diversity to a white and wealthy pool than a poor white one, but if you go back and read what I wrote, I didn’t specify what the diverse candidate was. The example was meant to apply to multiple kinds of diversity, which I didn’t spell out, because I thought you all agreed with me. (Hell, if I was only talking about black vs white, why did I mention “wealthy” at all?)

    Yes, absolutely, some groups of white people suffer discrimination, and have lower success rates at various economic and educational markers thanks to that discrimination. And to the extent that colleges are performing affirmative action-type adjustment of admission rates, they should be doing that for those subgroups, too. Again–if people had been arguing against this, I would have been happy to argue for it. Nobody was.

    do lurker23, Harlequin or any other advocates for affirmative action want to argue that affirmative action should not seek to equalize the black share in admissions to the black share in the population; or that it should, but that this is then not merely justified as an attempt to undo oppression?

    Besides Amp’s points about other reasons to implement AA…I don’t think it is a requirement that affirmative action should do that, basically because of how racist the rest of society is. Some schools are so bad that even four years at a top-tier university won’t be able to fix the damage, and thanks to racism and the race-SES correlation, a higher fraction of URM students went to those schools. So I would expect the admissions share of URM students to be below the share in the population. If a university is selective enough, and has enough support structure in place, they could still reach population level representation in their classes–but I don’t think a successful AA policy needs to do that to be operating at an appropriate level.

  62. 63
    Harlequin says:

    Actually, I would like to turn this around as a question for the commenters here who don’t support race-based AA, or don’t support it at the current levels. Some of us clearly don’t see eye-to-eye on the philosophical implications of race-based AA. But there have also been arguments for some practical effects: that race-based affirmative action will or may lead to
    – Teachers teaching to a lower standard to avoid flunking unprepared students
    – Students’ performance training their fellow students to think of that minority group as less capable or skilled
    – Graduates experiencing greater failure in their careers due to inadequate preparation
    – Students choosing less-useful or less-well-paying majors because they can’t cut it in the more lucrative but more difficult majors
    – A general degradation in the value of a college diploma

    (Possibly among some other things–I was just skimming the comments. If I have misrepresented any of your arguments in this summary, I apologize; that was not my intent. You may also include any arguments I missed, as you desire, in the list of bad practical effects you consider.)

    Here’s my question: Do you support an affirmative action-like policy for students from lower SES backgrounds, where they get into college despite looking (to some degree) worse on paper than wealthier students who are not accepted?

    If you do support such a policy, do you think your practical objections to race-based affirmative action still hold, but applied to poor students instead of black and Hispanic students? Why or why not? Does that affect how much you support SES-based affirmative action, if you do?

    (Tacked on the end here, just because I don’t like making 4 comments in a row on the same post: sorry, RonF, I didn’t realize that about MIT. I had read a page about calculus classes that I thought implied there was a calc sequence for people who didn’t have any prior calculus experience, but I must have misread.)

  63. 64
    desipis says:

    Kate (quoting LG&M):

    This silence was of course a product of the fact that prominent liberal and left commentators were universally skeptical of Smollett’s story from the start, and reacted appropriately

    There was mainstream media not being skeptical: The Jussie Smollett attack highlights the hate black gay Americans face

    There was left wing media not being skeptical:
    The attack against Jussie Smollett shows why we shouldn’t excuse racist and homophobic ‘jokes’

    … and doubling down with “hate-crime denial”: Jussie Smollett’s assault, “this is MAGA country” and hate-crime denial

    There was entertainment media not being skeptical: Entertainment
    The Racist, Homophobic Attack on Jussie Smollett Is Far-Right America’s Endgame

    There were many hollywood celebrities (typically quite left leaning) not being skeptical: This despicable act only shamefully reveals how deeply the diseases of hatred, inequality, racism and discrimination continue to course through our country’s veins

    There was tabloid media not being skeptical: ..if President Trump had any spine he would denounce Jussie Smollett’s MAGA attackers … but adds, for obvious reasons, he ain’t expecting it.

    There was the NAACP not being skeptical: The recent racist and homophobic attack on acclaimed actor and activist Jussie Smollett is troubling. The rise in hate crimes is directly linked to President Donald J. Trump’s racist and xenophobic rhetoric.

    There was GLAAD not being skeptical: it is disgusting that anyone, especially someone who has done such good for so many, would be targeted by undeniable hatred.

    And finally there was at least one Democratic politician not being skpetical: After Jussie Smollet attack, Maxine Waters blames Trump for emboldening racists

    There were, however, lots of pieces in the right wing media about how a completely imaginary “rush to judgment” on the left demonstrated how PC rules everything and hate crimes are mostly made up and you can’t trust “the media”

    There hasn’t be a lie that outrageous since Jussie Smollett claimed to be attacked by two white guys.

  64. 65
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    lurker23,

    okay, yes, but thomas and malia would both maybe get into school (different school) and compete against people who were not black.

    Real life Malia (Obama) actually went to Sidwell Friends School, a highly selective private school that is basically a track to the upper class. Graduates are extremely likely to end up at an Ivy compared to other high schools. Many elite politicians have placed their children and grandchildren in the school, including Theodore Roosevelt, Nixon, the Clintons, Al Gore and Biden.

    However, the school is actually 47% non-white, so white people are underrepresented compared to the national average (although probably not relative to the region). So Malia was actually competing with a fair few non-white people, although I bet that these were pretty much all upper and upper-middle class kids (aside from a tiny number of token poor people let in so the people who go to the school can pretend to be progressive, while acting regressive in a way that pretty much secures the class of their kids).

    The vast, vast majority people don’t experience the huge privilege of going to an elite school like that, including white people. Yet when she applied to Harvard, she was treated as disadvantaged and would be allowed in with way worse scores than a white person who went to a really poor school, has poorly educated and poor parents, etc.

    yes and i do not think there is a way around that, but i do not think you need to deal with that to repay past oppression!

    The entire idea that we should specifically undo oppression of black people, rather than remedy all forms of disadvantage equally is not just anti-progressive and wrong, but is due to not treating people as individuals, but dehumanize them as people who only matter to the extent that their well-being impacts the statistics of some (semi-arbitrarily) selected group.

    Why does it matter if a kid is disadvantaged by amount X because their ancestors were disadvantaged by slavery and Jim Crow, or amount X by a parent getting cancer & lacking insurance, or by class-based discrimination of their parents, etc, etc? Once the injustice didn’t happen to the person itself, but to an ancestor, you can no longer rank the cause of disadvantage by the extent to which you (don’t) victim blame the victim nor by the the extent to which you (don’t) blame the perpetrator, as neither the actual victims nor the actual perpetrators still live. Only the amount of disadvantage matters, which correlates way less with race than with more direct measures, like (parental) education level, income, etc.

    Imagine two people who are both handicapped by things that they are not blame for. For the thought experiment, imagine two people without a leg who have to run a race. One of them lost a leg after being shot by a criminal, the other lost their leg due to disease. What you are doing is akin to arguing that we should only help the one who lost their leg due to crime, but not the one who lost it due to disease, even though both have exactly the same disadvantage. From the perspective of the runners, both have the exact same difficulties in life.

    because malia and thomas are both black then malia does not owe thomas anything for black oppression,

    You defended this policy with the argument that disadvantage depresses educational attainment and should be compensated for in the admissions procedure. I think that it is utterly clear that Thomas is more disadvantaged than Malia, so if their ‘natural’ ability is equal, Thomas will end up with a worse educational record due to circumstance. So if you actually take your argument to the logical conclusion, you should want people like Thomas to have to meet far a lower bar than people like Malia.

    Yet you don’t advocate this. You seem to think that some disadvantage is worse than other kinds of disadvantage. Why? Are you happy to see people like Thomas, or a disadvantaged white person from the Appalachias be excluded from the kind of education that is key to strong upwards mobility, while upper class people get to give their children an easy path into the upper class, even with mediocre natural abilities?

    so i do not think fixing thomas is malias fault or problem?

    Harvard’s policy clearly assumes that the disadvantage of Malia and Thomas (and all other black people) is the same. So they lower the bar of admission equally for all black people. This means that Harvard’s policy is not actually helping the truly disadvantaged, but the less and perhaps not disadvantaged.

    Note that Barack Obama also doesn’t believe that Malia should benefit from a lower bar in the admissions procedure.

    My point is not that Malia is to blame for anything. She didn’t make the policy. I blame Harvard and the defenders of this policy for falsely stereotyping privileged people as disadvantaged and vice versa merely based on the color of their skin. I blame them for making policy that makes it clear that they don’t really care about the Thomases of this world, while claiming they do with idle words.

    This tendency to see the privileged as disadvantaged and the unprivileged as advantaged is actually a major problem with SJ in my view. I have to laugh when I see college students and especially Ivy college students complain about how disadvantaged they are and/or demand special remedies specifically for college students (and thus for the elite). It’s like a millionaire complaining that he is poor and demanding that society give him money so he can buy a big yacht, as Bill Gates has way more money.

  65. 66
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Ampersand,

    do you believe that Harvard is representative of AA programs as a whole?

    It’s a program that we know most about and that does seem fairly representative. Certainly when it comes down to the basic principles behind the program.

    You’ve moved the goalposts. […] I believe that virtually the entire difference between Black and white admission rates at top colleges is due to the effects of racist oppression (indirect and historic effects included). It doesn’t follow from that one specific example that I think all “group-level success or failure is always caused by systemic oppression.”

    I don’t think I’ve moved the goal posts. Admittedly, I didn’t spell out everywhere that my claim about common SJ beliefs was in the context of the black/white dichotomy, but I thought that was obvious. Otherwise my argument makes no sense.

    I really see no light between my claim that “[Harvard’s] policy must assume that oppression explains just about the entire gap between black students and other ethnic groups” or my claim about what SJ advocates tend to believe or alieve and your stated beliefs.

    However, I think that the best way to discuss this is to approach it from the other side. The facts show that admission rates of (ethnic) Jews at Ivy’s is way higher than their share of the population. So they clearly have an advantage compared to other white people, who don’t have this kind of advantage. This advantage is a lot bigger than the advantage that white people have over black people, in the absence of affirmative action. Yet I don’t see you or other SJ advocates demand that admission rates for Jews be lowered because Jews benefit from racist oppression (indirect and historic effects included). It seems to me that there are then two possibilities:
    – You/they believe or alieve that at most a small part of the advantage of Jews (over white people) is due to racist oppression and that virtually the entire gap is due to causes that don’t merit affirmative action.
    – You/they believe or alieve that Jews benefit from racist oppression, but that this is just.

    If you believe the former, then my question is why those other causes that can have such a major effect on the chances of Jews and that don’t merit affirmative action can’t also explain a substantial part of the gap between white people and black people? It seems particularly unlikely to me that this can’t be a significant reason, because when you are comparing white to black admission rates at Ivy’s, you are actually including a significant number of Jews in that equation (as Jews are a subset of white people and a rather large subset among the white people accepted to Ivy’s).

    Another reason – […] I don’t want a ruling class made disproportionately of white people.

    You are stating a desired outcome, but you are not actually stating the reason why you care about this. Presumably you believe that the disproportionately make-up of the ruling class has an negative impact on how they rule?

    If so, do you believe that the overrepresentation of Jews also has a negative impact or can you explain why you don’t think that this is the case?

    Another reason is that there’s good evidence that a student population drawn from diverse backgrounds is beneficial to the education of all students.

    I don’t see how that reason legitimizes proportionality in itself. Why would the arbitrary percentage that a certain group makes up in society be optimal for education? Why would it be optimal to have 0.6% trans people and 17% black people?

    And another reason is that as a general principle, I think freedom should be the default state, and we should interfere with that only for compelling reasons. It’s clear that the people running institutions like Harvard WANT to include Black students, and I don’t see why they should not be allowed to have their preferences in this case. (And no, I wouldn’t say the same if Harvard wanted to exclude Black students; the examples are not interchangeable, for obvious reasons.)

    None of this is about excluding or including black people. No one is suggesting Jim Crow laws and in the absence of AA, black people will still be included, although fewer.

    The question is whether judging people based on (stereotypes about) their race, rather than their actual personal traits, is legitimate. I don’t see why it is obvious that this is fair when done at the expense of white people, but not when done at the expense of black people.

    Incidentally, I might be okay with replacing racial AA with economic AA, as long as the economic measures used are more sophisticated and inclusive than parental income. Using parental income alone – while ignoring geographic effects, neighborhood effects and wealth – is a racist policy because it disproportionately excludes economically disadvantaged Black and Latinx students.

    Do you mean that poorer black people and recent migrants tend to live in areas with high living expenses, so their income actually has less buying power than the same income in more rural areas (which are more white)? If so, I agree that this is a valid measure.

    I also support using other measures that correlate well with economic disadvantage (which should be demonstrated, not merely assumed).

  66. 67
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Harlequin,

    Re: #61

    Interestingly, the SAT actually slightly overpredicts the future success of minorities in college and the workforce.

    Re: #62

    I apologize for unfairly attributing beliefs to you that you do not hold.

    Nevertheless, I think that this does strengthen my point about the larger movement:

    It’s true, I have mostly been talking about racial discrimination, but that’s because the original item in the link farm, and all replies to me, have also been talking mainly about racial discrimination.

    You absolve yourself by pointing to the choice that Ampersand made to link to this story and/or frame it a certain way. You don’t take responsibility for (not) noticing the biases that exist. It’s my experience that I or other critics of SJ and modern mainstream progressivism, practically always have to point out these blind spots. Then at best I do get an admission that those issues matter as well. Yet it’s almost never something that SJ advocates and the mainstream left come up with on their own.

    In fact, the very question whether discrimination against Asians is fair was brought up by critics of these SJ policies, in this case by way of lawsuit. So the critics forced the proponents of AA to think about whether it is fair to treat Asians this way. They never seemed concerned with that until it became possible that the benefits to black people might be threatened.

    When the conversations that SJ advocates and the mainstream left have tend to ignore certain groups unless those groups are brought up by others, their policies tend to ignore or harm them, I commonly see stereotypes being used that characterize an entire group as privileged and thus erasing the less privileged with that trait, etc; can you blame me for concluding that the professed concern their well-being is so shallow to be nigh non-existent?

    Critics such as I are not merely asking for reluctant agreement, while nothing is actually done to help these people & the overall effect of SJ policies is actually probably more harmful than beneficial.

    Re: #63

    Do you support an affirmative action-like policy for students from lower SES backgrounds, where they get into college despite looking (to some degree) worse on paper than wealthier students who are not accepted?

    Yes, although only to the extent that they (can) actually measure up. If the person has received truly subpar education for all of their childhood, it seems impossible that this can just be remedied with some remedial education or such. Rather than seeking to do the impossible, then the cause of the problem should be addressed.

    I also think that rather than just looking at admissions, a major issue is to reduce risk. Low-SES students have a far higher risk to leave college without a diploma, which tends to be the worst outcome: student debt, but not the income boosting degree.

    If you do support such a policy, do you think your practical objections to race-based affirmative action still hold, but applied to poor students instead of black and Hispanic students?

    I think that the kind of privilege that impacts educational opportunities is very closely linked to SES and thus that it won’t suffer very much from the issue that people with high educational opportunities are treated as people with low opportunities.

    But the other objections still hold.

    Does that affect how much you support SES-based affirmative action, if you do?

    Yes, ultimately I think that affirmative action is the left’s trickle-down economics: a simple solution to a complex problem, that at best can have minor benefits. To actually solve the problem, other solutions are way more important. Yet to figure out and implement those solutions, one first has to abandon the false beliefs that make the ‘trickle-down solution’ seem like it should work.

    I think that only a fairly small amount of affirmative action can actually have a positive effect and most of the solution has to come from elsewhere.

  67. 68
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Lol, here’s my take:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. We are all products of our culture and our culture plays a big role in our life outcomes. The older I get the more I believe in the power of cultural norms. Good norms create good outcomes, even in the face of adversity. It’s probably why there a populations of black people with high social mobility. It’s probably why jewish people are over-represented in the Ivy’s and among the worlds most highly regarded thinkers, despite centuries of racism. It’s probably why Asian Americans so well when it comes to educational outcomes. It’s definitely why Utah has such high social mobility (Southpark was right, Mormonims is the correct religion).

    For way too many on the left, it is taboo to point out that a disadvantaged minority may struggle due to their own culture norms. It is seen as white supremacy. For way too many on the right, chalking up a disparity to cultural norms is a way to absolve one’s responsibility- this is an especially tough sell considering the fact that black cultures in the USA must have been shaped by the forced dislocation, enslavement, and then violent oppression experienced by black people.

    Washington DC schools have been in the spotlight for years, with a major NPR story on school attendance breaking last year. The local radio shows had plenty of callers, including students, calling in with their own horror stories from attending schools, often violent ones. Teachers called in detailing the non-stop harrassment and disrespect they experience. It’s enraging to hear. These stories almost never involve white people, and the schools where they take place are well-funded. Per-student funding here is higher than the luxury public system I attended in the midwest. Some will throw up their hands and cry “where’s the racism?” It’s my belief that much of the racism already happened and now it’s baked into culture, and this is not the fault of any of the children that have to attend a public school in DC.

    I think changing cultural norms is hard, especially from the outside. It may be true that the best way to bring justice to some black students is through affirmative action programs. I really don’t know. I used to be more of a principles guy, “affirmaive action is bad because it’s literally discriminating based on skin color,” but lately I’ve become more of a “show me the data,” guy. I haven’t read enough on AA to be sure that it helps black peoples or to know if it harms whites and/or asians, though I’d like to know more.

  68. An interesting piece about the relationship between journalism and scholarship: Why Has It Taken Us So Long to See Trump’s Weakness?. I especially liked the conclusion:

    The job of the scholar, in other words, is to resist the tyranny of the now. That requires something different than knowledge of the past; indeed, historians have proven all too useful to the Historovox, which is constantly looking for academic warrants to say what its denizens always and already believe. No, the job of the scholar is to recall and retrieve what the Marxist critic Walter Benjamin described as “every image of the past that is not recognized by the present.” The task is not to provide useful knowledge to the present; it is to insist on, to keep a record of, the most seemingly useless counter-knowledge from the past — for the sake of an as-yet-to-be imagined future.

  69. 70
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    I know many here also read SlateStarCodex. A while ago, for reasons I can’t recall, I brought up the declining quality of the SSC reddit page, as leftists started to trickle out leaving a less interesting discussion behind. I read the reddit less often, mostly just checking in from time to time to read the most upvoted posts or items flagged as “actually a quality contribution.”

    Anyway, on account of the reddit page and some of the comments there, tensions between SSC and the left accelerated, with sad but unsurprising results. Scott has a post on his blog about it, but he made it un-linkable, so to read it you have to go to his blog’s homepage where it is currently on top:

    https://slatestarcodex.com/

    I really like Scott, and credit him more than maybe anyone else for helping me become a better thinker, and even a better person (I hope!). There are so many stories in the genre of “the mob came after me,” but this is the first time I’ve taken one personally. It’s also the first time I’ve ever read one of these stories with a response like Scott’s- normally the victim either disappears entirely, or creates a patreon and youtube page. I’m more certain than ever that those who argue that “words are violence,” hold an ideology that is every bit as evil as whatever it is they oppose. Those who would scare people to silence are not creating a more just world.

    The post is worth a read before it disappears.

  70. 71
    Ampersand says:

    Jeffrey,

    Scott and I have not gotten along well over the years, and I have a lot of criticism of some of his positions, but I’m sorry that he’s had such a hard time with this.

    Scott’s post was a mix of things I agree with, and things that I think he gets very wrong.

    Like when Scott writes this:

    The thing about an online comment section is that the guy who really likes pedophilia is going to start posting on every thread about sexual minorities “I’m glad those sexual minorities have their rights! Now it’s time to start arguing for pedophile rights!” followed by a ten thousand word manifesto. This person won’t use any racial slurs, won’t be a bot, and can probably reach the same standards of politeness and reasonable-soundingness as anyone else.

    I think he’s saying that he gets the problem… that people don’t WANT their forums to be turned into a place where people politely advocate for pedophile rights anytime someone posts about LGBTQ rights. And that it’s fair if people use moderation to keep even polite pedophile rights activists out.

    Nope, that’s not where he was going.

    Any fair moderation policy won’t provide the moderator with any excuse to delete him. But it will be very embarrassing for to New York Times to have anybody who visits their website see pro-pedophilia manifestos a bunch of the time.

    I mean, I think it should be possible to run a forum open to all views, however noxious. But no, that’s not the only “fair moderation policy,” and fear of criticism isn’t the only problem with having pedophiles showing up for all LGBTQ discussions.

    I found this interesting.

    Fifth, if someone speaks up against the increasing climate of fear and harassment or the decline of free speech, they get hit with an omnidirectional salvo of “You continue to speak just fine, and people are listening to you, so obviously the climate of fear can’t be too bad, people can’t be harassing you too much, and you’re probably just lying to get attention.” But if someone is too afraid to speak up, or nobody listens to them, then the issue never gets brought up, and mission accomplished for the people creating the climate of fear.

    I think the “continue to speak just fine” critique can be fair in some cases – for instance, a major public figure, who deliberately courts controversy, who we’re told is “silenced” because there are protests at their public appearances.

    But I don’t think someone who runs a blog that is not all that political, and who isn’t making public appearances or appearing on FOX, falls into the same category. I think the “you continue to speak just fine” critique would be unfair if used as a way to dismiss Scott’s position here. Scott and I agree on that.

    But I also note that the “you continue to speak just fine” position has been used by many people who love StarSlateCodex to dismiss accounts of being silenced because of the right-wing online mob (Gamergate, sad puppies, etc).

    (That’s not Scott’s fault, of course.)

    Finally, although I can understand why Scott did this, I’m worried about the lack of links, because Scott is a very biased source. For example, the “subreddit devoted to insulting and mocking me personally and Culture War thread participants in general,” when I found it and looked at its most popular posts, isn’t nearly as awful as Scott’s description led me to expect.

  71. 72
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Scott and I have not gotten along well over the years, and I have a lot of criticism of some of his positions, but I’m sorry that he’s had such a hard time with this.

    Yeah, I saw some of your back and forth a long time ago, and FWIW, I thought he was unfair to you. He treats reactionaries he disagrees with differently than feminists he disagrees with, and I think much of that is a result of the way the two sides have treated him collectively, rather than anything you did, or the ideologies themselves.

    It think there’s much discussion to be had between the moderate left and the lefter-left, but I also fear that the norms within the left are making this much harder. The civility in your comment section is pretty rare. I don’t exaggerate when I say that I’m often labelled a conservative, reactionary or even alt-right by those to my left, even though I’ll likely die without ever having voted for a Republican or anyone other than a democrat. That’s really weird and toxic, and if I had a widely read blog with my name attached, those kinds of descriptions plastered all over the internet would be terrifying.

  72. 74
    Ampersand says:

    That’s awesome!

    Ilya Somin, a lawyer, writes at Reason:

    Contrary to some initial media reports (since corrected), Judge Gray’s decision does not require the government to impose mandatory draft registration on women. Indeed, the ruling does is just a “declaratory judgment” and does not impose any injunction on the government at all. In the short run, therefore, it will have little effect beyond allowing the two individual plaintiffs to avoid registering for the draft without fear of punishment.

    But, assuming it is not overturned on appeal, other plaintiffs can likely use this ruling to secure a more general decision against the male-only draft. When and if that happens, the courts could potentially issue an injunction ordering either the extension of draft registration to women or its abolition for men. I believe the latter is the more likely outcome, since it would impose far less of a burden on both the government and private individuals. Either way, the ultimate choice between the two remedies would be in the hands of Congress, which can enact a new law embodying either of them.

    Somin thinks the ruling is unlikely to be overturned on appeal.

    This is great news.

  73. 75
    desipis says:

    A teenager prosecuted after posting rap lyrics including the N-word on Instagram had her conviction overturned today. Chelsea Russell quoted a song by US rapper Snap Dogg, which included the lines “kill a snitch n****” and “rob a rich n****”. She posted the line, from the artist’s 2016 track I’m Trippin, accompanied by emoji pictures of a gun and a bag of money. Chelsea Russell was previously found guilty of sending a “grossly offensive” message but today won her legal battle.

    An older article about the conviction:

    Russell argued it was not offensive, but was handed a community order. Prosecutors said her sentence was increased from a fine to a community order “as it was a hate crime”.

    Russell was found guilty of sending a grossly offensive message by a public communication. She was given an eight-week community order, placed on an eight-week curfew and told to pay costs of £500 and an £85 victim surcharge.

  74. 76
    RonF says:

    Chicago media was a lot more skeptical of Smollett’s story than the national media was. But then, they live in Chicago. They took one look at that story and said “You want me to believe that:

    a) there were 2 white Trump supporters in Chicago
    b) who had heard of the show “Empire”
    c) who knew who Jussie Smollett was
    d) who cared who Smollett was
    e) who knew where he lived
    f) who had reason to believe that he would walk outside at 2:00 AM on a given night
    g) and who were waiting for him in below-zero weather in the wind wearing hoodies so they could pour bleach and hang a noose on him in a neighborhood covered with cameras.”

    Really? Really? A whole lot of people had a problem swallowing that. So some Chicago reporters actually committed journalism, to their credit, and got the story out.

    As an aside, as the Chicago police explained how they tracked these two guys down, a whole lot of people got a rather striking narrative on just how little privacy we have these days when we are out in public.

    Oh, and if you can find a clip of the entire presentation by Chicago Police Superintendent Johnson and others, watch it. Sup. Johnson is one royally pissed off man and he wants to make sure everyone is quite clear about that.

  75. I was 18 in 1980 when Selective Service registration was first initiated, and there was a lot of talk that then-President Carter might decide to send troops into Afghanistan to counter the Soviet invasion, and so I was among the first cohort of young men who had to register. I remember walking to the post office with my form in hand trying to wrap my head around the fact that, if he did that, I might one day soon have no choice but to learn how to be a killer.

    I don’t have the link handy now, but I have somewhere in my files a PDF of the Supreme Court decision back then that upheld the constitutionality of the all-male draft—because someone brought a suit asserting that women should also be subject to Selective Service registration and the draft, were it ever reinstituted. I did not wish being drafted on anyone, but I do remember thinking how unfair it was, and so I am reminded now of something I read a long time ago about a fundamental difference between socialization into traditional male and female gender roles when there was a draft: unlike women, men had to be socialized to accept the possibility that one day they might be conscripted and have to learn how to kill other men.

    I wish I still had the article (or whatever) because the discussion was really interesting in terms of how this kind of socialization inevitably shaped men’s ideas, attitudes, beliefs, feelings about relationships with other men, especially men who were not part of their in-group, however in-group was defined.

    I don’t think it would be an improvement for girls to have to enter that kind of socialization, which I suppose is what would happen in some form if they too became subject to Selective Service registration and the draft, but I do wonder what kinds of (potentially new) discussions about gender role socialization, etc. might ensue if women do have to start registering.

  76. 78
    RonF says:

    Richard @ 77:

    The basic concept was that since women were banned from serving in combat it was legitimate for the law to treat women differently than men in the context of drafting them into the military. However, times have changed, and women DO enter combat. So there’s no longer any reason to exempt them from the draft. I hope that the follow-up suit is successfully brought forcing young women to register for the draft.

  77. 79
    Ampersand says:

    As Somin says, it may be more likely that selective service ends up being banned altogether.

    That’s certainly the outcome I’d prefer. In a time when the armed forces turn away the large majority of people applying, there’s really no need for it.

  78. 80
    J. Squid says:

    I was 18 in 1980 when Selective Service registration was first initiated, and there was a lot of talk that then-President Carter might decide to send troops into Afghanistan to counter the Soviet invasion, and so I was among the first cohort of young men who had to register. I remember walking to the post office with my form in hand trying to wrap my head around the fact that, if he did that, I might one day soon have no choice but to learn how to be a killer.

    I was a few years younger than you and I remember being against it from the very beginning. I attended a bunch of conscientious objector talks & seminars. There was no way I was going to go kill people. I remember getting that red postcard when I turned 17 informing me that I could register at 17 but must register within a month of turning 18. I ignored that. And then I ignored the one I got when I was 18 and the 2 following notices that they could put me in jail.

    My objection – in addition to being against a draft – was that it was clear that this was all a set up. They knew when I would turn 18 and were just giving me the opportunity not to register so they could come after me if they so chose. The reasonable thing to do would have been to automatically register everybody on their 18th birthday if they hadn’t registered earlier. And then you would have to apply to be excused from registration.

    It made me so angry at the time that they were essentially trying to get me to sign a loyalty oath.

  79. You were, Jake, far more aware, and more courageous, than I was. I knew nothing about conscientious objector status back then. Nor did I have any idea what kinds of resources might have been available to me. Someone told me—I don’t remember whom and that I listened is indicative of how naïve and ignorant I was—that if I returned the registration card without my social security number they wouldn’t be able to find me. So that’s what I did. Of course they found me and I got one of those letters threatening me with jail time. It scared me enough that I registered. I remember being at dinner at my grandparents and telling my family that I didn’t want to register. I gave my reasons. My grandfather looked at me and said. “You are a man and you are a member of this family. You will not embarrass us [he may have said me] by not registering.” There were no competing voices in my life.

    Ron,

    I remember reading the decision very closely in the 1990s when I was working on a book of essays about manhood and masculinity that never got published. (I had an agent; the editors thought the work was good; they just didn’t think it would sell.) Your summary is accurate, of course, but I wish I had my notes handy. There was a lot of nuance that was worth talking about back then. It might be interesting to see if any of those issues are worth talking about now.

  80. 82
    J. Squid says:

    You were, Jake, far more aware, and more courageous, than I was.

    Alas, it took me far longer to become aware of the blind pro-Israel propaganda i was raised with. I resent that far more as an adult than I did the entrapment of draft registration. Probably because I saw through registration much sooner.

  81. 83
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Jeffrey Gandee #68,

    I think that the (far) left has a strong tendency to associate success with eliminating oppression or providing opportunity, not with sacrifice or taking responsibility (of those who do worse in life).

    This works when people want to do what brings success and are prevented from doing this, but not when people want to do what causes failure. There is a quite a bit of resistance on the left to pushing the less fortunate into different choices. It is very quickly seen as victim blaming, kicking a person who is already down, or is perceived as being the very cause of behavior that keeps people down.

    A nasty consequence of this is that ‘peer oppression’ is often ignored or worse, facilitated. An example is that black-on-black violence is way more of a risk to black people than misbehavior by cops. The narrative that portrays cops as the enemy of (black) citizens encourages adverse, rather than cooperative policing, which in turn results in poor interactions between the police and citizens, perpetuating the problem and giving criminals lots of power in these communities. The victims of these criminals are then mostly other black people, in the same neighborhood. These people are oppressed by their peers.

    I think that a more moderate position is much more useful, where cops are held responsible for abuses, but it is recognized that policing is necessary and that certain behaviors cannot be tolerated, not in the least because it prevents people in the community from achieving success.

    Of course, this is just an example.

    Ultimately, the solutions should match the characteristic of the problems, not what ideology says that the cause/solution should be. Some see individual fault everywhere, while others see systemic failure as the cause of all problems of certain groups. However, the truth is often in the middle.

    Similarly, there should be push back against those who adopt a convenient narrative that absolves themselves, while blaming others.

    Unfortunately, the debate where people can openly bounce these viewpoints off one another seems to be deteriorating, with people banning the other kind of view or arguments about the characteristics of the problems that don’t fit the ideology.

    So this segues neatly into:

  82. 84
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Ampersand #71,

    But I also note that the “you continue to speak just fine” position has been used by many people who love StarSlateCodex to dismiss accounts of being silenced because of the right-wing online mob (Gamergate, sad puppies, etc).

    The difficulty is that the extent to which people are ‘being silenced’ is not something that can be objectively determined, nor is it something that is objectively experienced. Some people cannot deal with differing opinions at all and feel silenced whenever someone objects, no matter how politely. Others feed on push back and may actually feel way more silenced when they are ignored than if people react angrily (trolls may be like this?). Similarly, some prefer a more abrasive type of communication than others can stand.

    A second issue is that the very consideration of certain ideas or (possible) facts can be seen as so threatening that people feel silenced.

    A third problem is that there is a high level of bias. ‘When I chant through your speech, I’m fighting oppression or exercising my free speech rights. When you chant through my speech, you are silencing me.’

    The result of these difficulties is that you will always have people feel silenced, no matter what the rules or customs. Yet it is also obvious that certain things are indeed extremely silencing. We can’t just let people shoot those whose opinion they don’t want to exist, without making it impossible for many to talk and live.

    Whenever you police rules, there is the risk of this being used either rhetorically or even as a weapon. The rhetorical method can work as a combination of strawmanning and ad hominem, where the arguments of the wiser opposition is ignored in favor of pointing to the (few) brutes (who may not even be part of the movement). The stronger the taboos, the easier it is to do this.

    The harsher the policing, the more powerful it is when used as a weapon. See Swatting for a horrid example.

    So rhetorical and policing use of these rules cannot work well without being critical of and perhaps policing those who appeal to the rules. If you punish those who are accused of silencing automatically, accusing people becomes an instant-win button, even when the real reason for wanting to punish the person is something that society doesn’t want to punish people for.

    If society is to uphold shared rules of what the repercussions may be to (certain) speech, you actually need buy in from most of society. The rules can be oppressive to minorities, like Ms PedoingIsTheBest, but if they are oppressive to half of the nation, it’s likely that they simply come up with their own rules for their own spaces and it becomes a war to see who gets to police what spaces.

    But I also note that the “you continue to speak just fine” position has been used by many people who love StarSlateCodex to dismiss accounts of being silenced because of the right-wing online mob (Gamergate, sad puppies, etc).

    Your examples strongly suggest that you are not very impartial in how you look at this. I have never seen any evidence that Sad Puppies silenced anyone with a mob. They did the same activism that some SJ people do and did: coordinate to vote for what they see as excluded, underappreciated or (ideologically) pleasing works. You have in fact done so yourself (see item 1).

    As for GamerGate, there is actually extremely strong evidence that one of the central people, who is often held up as a victim of GamerGate, posted a threat against herself and lied about being forced out of her home. Furthermore, there has been abuse and even bomb threats againsts GamerGaters. There is in fact fairly solid evidence that many of the key anti-GamerGate figures are abusers and manipulators. Yet I’ve only ever heard the narrative from anti-GGers that GG was about harassing women and such. I’ve never seen an acknowledgement from anti-GGers of the abuses by those people or in general how many GamerGaters felt that they were being abused. Meanwhile, I’ve seen quite a few GGers recognize the abuse against anti-GGers, even if they didn’t necessarily believe that the perpetrators were actual GGers, rather than trolls who latched on to it. I’ve also seen attempts by GGers to help combat abuse.

    To show how skewed your viewpoint is, let me present this survey of GamerGaters, which shows that what you call a “right-wing online mob” is actually dominated by liberals and Obama-voters. They may not be your kind of (SJ) liberal, but that doesn’t make them right-wing.

    For example, the “subreddit devoted to insulting and mocking me personally and Culture War thread participants in general,” when I found it and looked at its most popular posts, isn’t nearly as awful as Scott’s description led me to expect.

    The most popular post just innocently wonders whether they are all eugenicists and white supremacists:

    Thanks to SSC’s reader survey (which I participated in and semi-analyzed), we know the audience is mostly American, almost entirely white, and almost entirely male. Maybe eugenics and GamerGate and the Fourteen Words are just what white American men naturally talk about when they’re alone?

    (emphasis mine)

    Of course, white men cannot have empathy with other people anyway, unless they have minorities around them to teach them empathy:

    If all of my friends were white American men, I might not have any empathy for other people’s experiences either.

    You probably don’t agree, but in my view this is both sexism and racism, erasing all less privileged white men in sweep.

    Then a bit later on in the same post, it says this:

    They do happily admit real-world publications into their body of knowledge, but then they also admit pseudoscientists like that Kirkegaard guy or the crackpot virologist whom Peter Thiel paid to give people herpes in order to prove we don’t need the FDA. I think this is where Rationalists are the most cultlike and earn their capital R: not the abundance of unnecessary jargon/shibboleths, nor the alarming tendency to handle everything in their daily lives (even their health) through the community, but the whole ecosystem they have of theories and thought-leaders that are constantly discussed inside the community yet no one outside has ever heard of them.

    This has rather sneaky insinuations that are quite typical of this kind of smearing. The mere participation of a person is used to imply that their beliefs are those of the community. Here it is done by arguing that the comments by the Kirkegaard* fellow and the other one are part of SSC’s “body of knowledge” and to imply that they are “thought-leaders.” This makes it sound like there is some Bible that their beliefs are entered into and that people are expected to believe in & a leadership that these people are part off, rather than just some comments that will mostly be forgotten the week after.

    * Note that the RationalWiki page about Kirkegaard that SneerClub links to has got at least one lie where it is claimed that he said something far worse than what he did, that I found very quickly. This is also typical of these smear jobs. At every step of the way things are exaggerated. All these small lies add up to something extremely dishonest and slanderous.

    So in that one single post, I see one of the main accusations by Scott Alexander being present: the conflation of (not even honestly presented) voices in the community with the entire community and then condemnation of the entire community based on outliers.

  83. 85
    Ampersand says:

    LOL, your email address, while funny, looks very fake. Could you email me (barry.deutsch@gmail.com)? There’s something I want to ask you about offline. Thanks.

  84. 86
    RonF says:

    I got the Selective Service notification my freshman year. Unlike the rest of you, in my case there was actually a war going on that the government was actively drafting people into at the time. My father and all my uncles served in WW II (except for those on my mother’s side who were working on the farm – food production was a war necessity) and both my older brothers were in the service at the time. In fact, one of them was in Vietnam. I registered and signed up for my 2S, which meant that I was a college student and as long as I was registered for and passed at least 12 credit hours a semester I wouldn’t get drafted until everyone who didn’t have an exemption was already drafted, which never happened. My oldest brother had flunked out of UMass, got reclassified 1A and joined the Air Force before the Army came calling. He fought his war in Little Rock, Arkansas. My older brother dropped a class, fell to 11 credit hours and the school reported him (which they were not legally required to do – God knows MIT told the Cambridge Selective Service Board to go piss up a rope). He then joined the Army, as if you joined you got to pick your MOS. He ended up working in a medical lab – in Vietnam. He still got shot at and had to shoot back once, but came back in one piece.

    IIRC, it was my Junior year when 2S exemptions were scrapped. One fine night there was a TV show that had everyone’s attention. A Selective Service official stood in front of two barrels filled with ping-pong balls. The balls in one barrel had dates on them, one for every date of the year. The balls in the other one were simply numbered 1 – 366. The process was to pull a ball out of each and match them. If the ball with your birthday on it was pulled out, the number on the other ball was your draft order. Anyone who was #1 got free drinks in all the bars in Boston that night. Anyone who was #365 or #366 was supposed to buy. I was ~ #240 IIRC. It was anticipated that the draft would go down to ~ 120 – 140. So I was safe. Plus, one of the guys in my fraternity house was a Canadian national, and he offered the option of going to his parents’ house for an extended stay if we wanted. In those days, an unaccompanied young American man of draft age was not permitted by the Canadian authorities to cross the border into Canada unless he had somewhere specifically that he was going and that there was someone there to acknowledge him.

    You want to get rid of the draft? Make women subject to it.

  85. 87
    RonF says:

    Amp @ 79:

    One of the biggest problems the Armed Forces have these days is that between academic insufficiency, drug use, criminal record and obesity/lack of physical fitness, it is estimated that only 27% of military-age young men are fit for admission into the military.

  86. 88
    Ampersand says:

    Ron, my impression is that the U.S. Armed Forces do not even want to accept more people than they’re currently accepting. It’s not “we’re turning away 80% because only 20% qualify”; it’s “we’re turning away 80% because 20% is the number we need.”

  87. 89
    Ben Lehman says:

    Ron: That sounds very similar to my dad’s story, although I think he was #344.

    My parents were big on trying to create a conscientious objector file for me. I disagreed — I thought it was immoral to send someone else to kill, die, or be injured in my place. It was a thing we fought about more than once. Obviously it didn’t end up mattering.

    I am strongly in favor of draft abolition and I hope that this is an important first step towards abolition. I hope that if the US gets presented with “either both men and women register, or no one does” we will pick “no one does.”

  88. 90
    Mandolin says:

    I’m never sure which way we will fall on ‘include women’ or ‘abolish.’

    My dad had previously had some disqualifying illness that they won’t let you in if you’ve had. I don’t remember what. I think his uncle spontaneously threatened to shoot him in the head if he tried to dodge the draft (which I’m fairly positive my father wouldn’t have done), because his uncle was the kind of douche who would spontaneously decide to make threats apropos of nothing, but it didn’t come up.

  89. 91
    nobody.really says:

    In 2013 Amp & Mandolin issued an oh-so-delightful cartoon in which Shakespeare is incarcerated for plagiarism. And Shakespeare apologizes, saying his failure to provide attribution was the inadvertent result of his reliance on the assistance of grad students using cut-n-paste techniques. Ok, I made that last part up.

    Anyway, the Bard has been at it again. A self-taught Shakespeare scholar used plagiarism software to find a rare manuscript that appears to been a source for ‘King Lear,’ ‘Macbeth,’ ‘Richard III,’ ‘Henry V’ and seven other plays. While other scholars have used computers to evaluate authorship based on each author’s characteristic patterns of prepositions, etc., this plagiarism software simply looks for atypical words used in a common order.

    According to the NYT, for example, the manuscript “urges those who might see themselves as ugly to strive to be inwardly beautiful, to defy nature. He uses a succession of words to make the argument, including ‘proportion,’ ‘glass,’ ‘feature,’ ‘fair,’ ‘deformed,’ ‘world,’ ‘shadow’ and ‘nature.’ In the opening soliloquy of Richard III (‘Now is the winter of our discontent …’) the hunchbacked tyrant uses the same words in virtually the same order to come to the opposite conclusion: that since he is outwardly ugly, he will act the villain he appears to be.

    ‘People don’t realize how rare these words actually are…. And he keeps hitting word after word. It’s like a lottery ticket. It’s easy to get one number out of six, but not to get every number.’

    * * *

    In another passage, [the manuscript] uses six terms for dogs, from the noble mastiff to the lowly cur and ‘trundle-tail,’ to argue that just as dogs exist in a natural hierarchy, so do humans. Shakespeare uses essentially the same list of dogs to make similar points in ‘King Lear’ and ‘Macbeth.’

    [The scholar also] ran phrases through the database Early English Books Online, which contains 17 million pages from nearly every work published in English between 1473 and 1700. He found that almost no other works contained the same words in passages of the same length. Some words are especially rare; ‘trundle-tail’ appears in only one other work before 1623.”

    Finally, recall the scene in King Lear where the king and the Fool are lost in a storm, and the Fool recites a bleak prophecy that he attributes to the magician Merlin? No one has found any other source associating Merlin with such a prophecy–until this manuscript.

    Nice sleuthing!

  90. That’s really fascinating, nobody. Thanks for posting it.

  91. 93
    desipis says:

    Moral Outrage Is Self-Serving

    Feelings of guilt are a direct threat to one’s sense that they are a moral person and, accordingly, research on guilt finds that this emotion elicits strategies aimed at alleviating guilt that do not always involve undoing one’s actions. Furthermore, research shows that individuals respond to reminders of their group’s moral culpability with feelings of outrage at third-party harm-doing. These findings suggest that feelings of moral outrage, long thought to be grounded solely in concerns with maintaining justice, may sometimes reflect efforts to maintain a moral identity.

  92. 94
    Michael says:

    @Ampersand#71- FWIW, Scott just posted an article in response to the Verge article about the travails of Facebook moderators:
    https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/25/18229714/cognizant-facebook-content-moderator-interviews-trauma-working-conditions-arizona
    And he replies here:
    https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/02/27/in-mod-we-trust/

  93. 95
    Ampersand says:

    I very much related to this paragraph from Scott:

    While I was writing the article on the Culture War Thread, several of the CW moderators told me that the hard part of their job wasn’t keep the Thread up and running and well-moderated, it was dealing with the constant hectoring that they had made the wrong decision. If they banned someone, people would say the ban was unfair and they were tyrants and they hated freedom of speech. If they didn’t ban someone, people would say they tolerated racism and bullying and abuse, or that they were biased and would have banned the person if they’d been on the other side.

    That’s gotten easier for me because Alas has gotten smaller.

    I mostly liked Scott’s post, although I think his discussion of The Verge’s alleged hypocrisy – which relied a lot on “I imagine they would publish…” – was pretty unfair. You can make anyone into a hypocrite by criticizing what you’d imagine they’d say.

  94. 96
    nobody.really says:

    ….Alas has gotten smaller.

    Really? I hadn’t paid attention.

    Why would that be? I know you (Amp) has been cranking out a lot of other (paying, I hope!) work, so has has focus on other projects than us. But had you previously done more things to promote traffic here?

  95. 97
    Ampersand says:

    Back in Alas’ heyday – which was many years ago – I simply posted much more often, as did some of the co-bloggers. Blogs with a lot of content do better than blogs with a little content, all else held equal.

    And you’re right, a lot of that is because I’m much more focused now on paying work. I don’t think it’s a bad thing that we’re smaller – it’s just a different thing.

  96. 98
    desipis says:

    … his discussion of The Verge’s alleged hypocrisy … was pretty unfair

    I didn’t read that part as being intended to criticise The Verge’s position, but rather to acknowledge the double-bind that leaders of organisations face. It’s all too easy to criticise the consequences of one action or policy without considering all the potential consequences of the alternatives.

  97. 99
    Ampersand says:

    I didn’t read that part as being intended to criticise The Verge’s position, but rather to acknowledge the double-bind that leaders of organisations face.

    This seems fair.

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