Law School Discussion

Specific Groups => Minority and Non-Traditional Law Students => Topic started by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 10:34:17 AM

Title: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 10:34:17 AM
I am going to try, perhaps very naively, to propose a sensible discussion about Affirmative Action.

I am going to post a series of facts  that I believe are: persuasive; that may be interesting for all of us to think about; and that may re-orient the way in which we think about affirmative action on this Board.

The order in which I will post will in the end constitute a narrative, and it is probably better that I outline that storyline here. It goes something like this:

---

1. There is a phenomenon known as ‘stereotype threat’. It exists, it is real, and its performance effects are -  for motivated, able and accomplished URMs - substantial .

2. The LSAT is a test in which ‘stereotype threat’ flourishes

3. Holding UGPA + UG institution +  academic department + Major + socioeconomic status all constant,  African Americans receive on average 6 scaled points lower on the LSAT  than white; Latino/as about 4 points lower, and Native Americans about 2 points lower.

4. For high-GPA URM applicants to the top schools, this gap in average LSAT scores may be largely explained by the presence of stereotype threat.

5a. Law Schools have known of this gap, and of its causes, for at least 25 years

5b. That they continue to rely on a test that penalizes groups taking it under a stereotype threat, and that they rely on it so heavily, despite its weakness in predicting law school performance (i.e. a test that discriminates between URMs and the majority, and that is of dubious utility) is .... puzzling

5c.  Using a test known to discriminate against URMs is not, in practice, all that different from an intent to dicriminate; and a system in which the biased results are forseeable is not all that different from a system in which the biased results are intended.

6.  Race-based Affirmative Action can and should -- in principle -- be fully justified on the basis of this present-day systematic bias against accomplished URMs applying to law schools.

7. When combined with the diversity rationale, and with the need to counteract the demonstrable evidence of implicit bias even in the case of two candidates with exactly the same credentials, the case for Affirmative Action becomes overwhelming.

8. Affirmative Action is not a remedy for the supposed under-qualified academic standing of URMs. It is a corrective, instead, for the strong implicit societal bias against well-qualified, well-motivated URMs.
------------

I shall now try to post something that demonstrates the first point in my narrative, and will, I hope, generate some discussion. Please contribute any thoughts that you may have.  Constructive, thoughtful and intellectually honest criticism is particularly welcome. 

Before moving on to point 2, I shall attempt to summarize the agreements and points of disagreement on the first point.

I should state explicitly that I myself am open to persuasion by stronger counterevidence or counternarratives.

This is an experiment -- if it fails, so be it.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 10:40:48 AM
Re: the First Point


1.1. There is a psychological phenomenon known as ‘Stereotype Threat’

Steele and Aronson (“Contending with Group Image: The Psychology of Stereotype and Social Identity Threat,” by Claude M. Steele, Steven J. Spencer, and Joshua Aronson, Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 2002.) & very many later studies have found that stereotype threat affects performance.

In their initial study, after adjusting for initial differences in SAT scores, black students at Stanford University who took a challenging verbal test answered approximately 10 percent fewer questions correctly than whites did—but only if they believed that the test was a measure of their ability. If they were told that the test measured “psychological factors involved in solving verbal problems,” the black-white test score difference was eliminated.

These studies have been replicated many times, and are undiputed, both in terms of their results and in terms of their methodology.


1.2. Stereotype Threat is a Real Psychological State for which there is Direct Evidence


“what we needed next was direct evidence of thesubjective state we call stereotype threat. To seek this, we looked intowhether simply sitting down to take a difficult test of ability was enough to make black students mindful of their race and stereotypes about it. This may seem unlikely. White students I have taught over the years have sometimes said that they have hardly any sense of even having a race. But blacks have many experiences with the majority "other group" that make their race salient tothem.

We again brought black and white students in to take a difficult verbal test. But just before the test began, we gave them a long list of words, each of which had two letters missing. They were told to complete the words on this list as fast as they could. We knew from a preliminary survey that twelve of the eighty words we had selected could be completed in such a way as to relate to the stereotype about blacks' intellectual ability. The fragment "__ce," for example, could become "race." If simply taking a difficult test of ability was enough to make black students mindful of stereotypes about their race, these students should complete more fragments with stereotype-related words. That is just what happened. When black students were told that the test would measure ability, they completed the fragments with significantly more stereotype-related words than when they were told that it was not a measure of ability. Whites made few stereotype-related completions in either case.”


1.3. Stereotype Threat is not the Same Thing as Self-Doubt

(Aronson J, Lustina MJ, Good C, Keough K, Steele CM, Brown J. When white men can’t do math: Necessary and sufficient factors in stereotype threat. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 29-46. 1999).

The researchers told white male students who were strong in math  (they all had nearly perfect scores on the SAT Math) that a difficult math test they were about to take was one on which Asians generally did better than whites.

White males should not have a sense of group inferiority about math, since no societal stereotype alleges such an inferiority. Yet this comment would put them under a form of stereotype threat: any faltering on the test could cause them to be seen negatively from the standpoint of the positive stereotype about Asians and math ability. If stereotype threat alone--in the absence of any internalized self-doubt--was capable of disrupting test performance, then white males taking the test after this comment should perform less well than white males taking the test without hearing the comment.

That is just what happened. Stereotype threat impaired intellectual functioning in a group unlikely to have any sense of group inferiority -- high-achieving white men who are very strong in math.

“In science, as in the rest of life, few things are definitive. But these results are pretty good evidence that stereotype threat's impairment of standardized-test performance does not depend on cueing a pre-existing anxiety.”

Alternatively

Studies (e.g.  Kray, Laura, Reb, Jochen M., Galinsky, Adam D. and Thompson, Leigh, "Gender Stereotype Activation and Power in Mixed-Gender Negotiations")  show that women do worse on challenging tests of mathematical and scientific material, both when they are primed to think that the test demonstrates gender differences in math ability and when they are not primed about the test’s content (and thus are reacting purely on their knowledge that society expects women to be bad at math). The male-female gap is eliminated only when women are led to believe that the test is gender- neutral.

Or

White athletes did worse than black athletes in a golf exercise when they thought their scores demonstrated “natural athletic ability” (a stereotypically black trait), whereas blacks did worse than whites when they thought it tested “sports strategic intelligence” (a stereotypically white trait).


1.4. Stereotype Threat Affects the Most Able, most Qualified, and Most Motivated Members of a Group


Claude Steele -- “Is everyone equally threatened and disrupted by a stereotype? One might expect, for example, that it would affect the weakest students most. But in all our research the most achievement-oriented students, who were also the most skilled, motivated, and confident, were the most impaired by stereotype threat. This fact had been under our noses all along--in our data and even in our theory. A person has to care about a domain in order to be disturbed by the prospect of being stereotyped in it. That is the whole idea of disidentification--protecting against stereotype threat by ceasing to care about the domain in which the stereotype applies. Our earlier experiments had selected black students who identified with verbal skills and women who identified with math. But when we tested participants who identified less with these domains, what had been under our noses hit us in the face. None of them showed any effect of stereotype threat whatsoever.”

Ironically, and poignantly, the data show that

“what exposes students to the pressure of stereotype threat is not weaker academic identity and skills but stronger academic identity and skills. They may have long seen themselves as good students--better than most. But led into the domain by their strengths, they pay an extra tax on their investment--vigilant worry that their future will be compromised by society's perception and treatment of their group.”

What exactly is happening under Stereotype Threat?

“In some of our experiments we administered the test of ability by computer, so that we could see how long participants spent looking at different parts of the test questions. Black students taking the test under stereotype threat seemed to be trying too hard rather than not hard enough. They reread the questions, reread the multiple choices, rechecked their answers, more than when they were not under stereotype threat. The threat made them inefficient on a test that, like most standardized tests, is set up so that thinking long often means thinking wrong, especially on difficult items like the ones we
used.”

and, it has physiological manifestations

A study (Blascovich, J., Spencer, S., Quinn, D., & Steele, C. (2001)). African-Americans and high blood pressure: The role of stereotype threat. Psychological Science, 12, 225-229) found that the blood pressure of black students performing a difficult cognitive task under stereotype threat was elevated compared with that of black students not under stereotype threat or white students in either situation.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 11:40:02 AM

1. Is the degree of difference in LSAT scores attributable to stereotype threat and other factors that affect minority performance equivalent to the 10+ points lower URMs seem to be able to score without experiencing a narrowing in the schools available to them?

2. Also, does stereotype threat affect GPA? I've seen the discussions on standardized testing and stereotype threat but nothing on its effect on GPA.

Looking at LSN, there seems to be a strong possibility that two students--one a 3.8/172 white applicant and one a 3.1/163 URM applicant, will end up at the same school. I understand if the LSATs are taken as equivalent, considering stereotype threat and less access to resources (such as test prep companies) that URMs face. However, the GPAs are strikingly different so why the added consideration there?


1. Nationwide estimates are that it the total gap in LSAT performance is 9 points on average, and the inference is that an average of six points or so are accounted for by the stereotype threat (and the remainder by SES differences, motivational differences, etc).

Since the sterotype threat disproportionally affects those students who are most able and most motivated, I think we can infer that the gap will be larger than 6 points among those applying to higher-ranked schools than among those applying to lower-ranked schools. The motivation gap will, on the other hand, likely be smaller.

Would it reach 10 points? I don't know, but one could imagine that it very easily could. At the very least, we wouldn't be talking about a 10-point gap between LSAT scores, but a 3-point gap: something that happens frequently enough that it would be unremarkable. (It may be useful to remember that at the 95% confidence interval, the score band for a particular individual's LSAT score is 11 scaled points wide).

2. Stereotype threat affects GPA, but much much less than it affects LSAT. This is so because of the pervasive view that the LSAT is a measure of intelligence.

There may be other variables that affect GPA -- major, school, SES (having to work), hostile environment, etc. What is known, however, is that the schools that African Americans are more likely than average to attend have tougher grading curves than the schools that white law school applicants are likely to attend. HBCUs, for example, have  much tougher grading curves than the Ivies.

3. As for your third question, it's hard for me to make an intelligent comment on individual cases without looking at their files. What would be interestiing, though, would be to see if URMs with a higher index than the 3.1/163 were rejected from that school. That may point to some strengths in that individual's application that are invisible to us.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: WarrenG on June 08, 2006, 11:44:39 AM
I’ll play devil’s advocate here even though I’m a supporter of AA.  First the definition of stereotype threat:

Stereotype threat – the threat, perceived by persons who are the target of stereotypes, that they will be evaluated in terms of these stereotypes (Steele, 1997).

As you can see it has 3 basic components: 1) the stereotype itself, 2) the person’s perception of how that stereotype relates to them in a given situation and, 3) a persons fear of being judged by that stereotype and the negative effect that this has on performance.

One could say that AA strengthens a more enduring stereotype threat: the incompetent minority.  The minority who has completed law school now has to worry about the stereotype threat that they are incompetent for the rest of their working lives, which should, in turn, make them less competent lawyers than they would be if AA, and the stereotype threat that it introduces, did not exist.

If the goal is the help minorities then the detrimental effect of this stereotype threat needs to be measured, amongst other things, against the benefits that AA brings.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Quintana on June 08, 2006, 11:45:15 AM
  Great post, thanks.

 As far as the stereotype threat affecting GPA, it seems that the mechanism (over-thinking) would still be in place, but the negative results would be less pronounced than they would be in a standardized test designed for quick thinking.  

 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 11:56:04 AM
One could say that AA creates a new, more enduring stereotype threat: the incompetent minority.  The minority who has completed law school now has to worry about the stereotype threat that they are incompetent for the rest of their working lives, which should, in turn, make them less competent lawyers than they would be if AA, and the stereotype threat that it introduces, did not exist.

Yes, I think that's a fair argument to make.

I think that AA is a second-best solution in response to law schools' failure to abandon the LSAT. The best solution is to revamp the admissions process entirely. Given, however, that they haven't and that they presumably won't, it is perverse and unfair to place the burden and the cost of this system on URM applicants' admissions prospects. It is, in fact, the very definition of unfair.

As a factual matter, it has been shown, using longitudinal survey data, that applicants who had been admitted under Affirmative Action at Michigan Law went on to lead careers that were as productive, as accomplished and as well renumerated as those of white students. The only significant difference was that URMs made a significantly better and greater contribution to the communities in which they lived.

The effects of the sterotype effect, therefore, seem to b potentially deadly in the applications process, in law school exams, but not thereafter.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 12:03:29 PM
  Great post, thanks.

 As far as the stereotype threat affecting GPA, it seems that the mechanism (over-thinking) would still be in place, but the negative results would be less pronounced than they would be in a standardized test designed for quick thinking. 

Yes. I think that it is entirely possible to design a test that eliminates the systematic gap caused by the stereotype threat. It seems that the psychometricians at LSAC test individual test items in the context of the test as a whole -- a process which will, of course, retain the systematic bias in outcomes, rather than work to reduce it.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Quintana on June 08, 2006, 12:25:23 PM
One could say that AA creates a new, more enduring stereotype threat: the incompetent minority.  The minority who has completed law school now has to worry about the stereotype threat that they are incompetent for the rest of their working lives, which should, in turn, make them less competent lawyers than they would be if AA, and the stereotype threat that it introduces, did not exist.

Yes, I think that's a fair argument to make.

I think that AA is a second-best solution in response to law schools' failure to abandon the LSAT. The best solution is to revamp the admissions process entirely. Given, however, that they haven't and that they presumably won't, it is perverse and unfair to place the burden and the cost of this system on URM applicants' admissions prospects. It is, in fact, the very definition of unfair.

As a factual matter, it has been shown, using longitudinal survey data, that applicants who had been admitted under Affirmative Action at Michigan Law went on to lead careers that were as productive, as accomplished and as well renumerated as those of white students. The only significant difference was that URMs made a significantly better and greater contribution to the communities in which they lived.

The effects of the sterotype effect, therefore, seem to b potentially deadly in the applications process, in law school exams, but not thereafter.


  Do you know of data concerning the comparative career success of AA admits from other schools?  If the results of the Michigan survey hold across the board, and I have no reason to think they wouldn't, then this speaks volumes towards the motivation to provide AA.  This of course begs the question: Does the end justify the means?  
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: John Galt on June 08, 2006, 12:28:29 PM
Red:

I'm saving this spot for a response in the near future. This topic requires more thought and detail than normal. Thank you for this thread.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Hank Rearden on June 08, 2006, 12:31:11 PM
If the LSAT measures ability to succeed during the first year of law school, and if blacks are adversely affected by a "stereotype threat" when taking the LSAT, is there any reason to think that they would not suffer this same sort of mental lapse during their first-year exams?  When would the stereotype threat expire?  Would they perform worse at law firms or on the BAR as well?  

I don't deny that blacks (especially high-achieving ones) may suffer because of stereotypes regarding their racial group's intelligence.  However, I don't see how the solution to this problem could reasonably involve artificial inflation of black test scores.  Such a measure would just further this "stereotype threat."
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 12:38:37 PM
  Do you know of data concerning the comparative career success of AA admits from other schools?  If the results of the Michigan survey hold across the board, and I have no reason to think they wouldn't, then this speaks volumes towards the motivation to provide AA.  This of course begs the question: Does the end justify the means? 


The Michigan data is, to my knowledge, the only comprehensive data set available on this topic.

I don't know of any reason to think that the Michigan data would be unrepresentative of the national trend.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: aerynn on June 08, 2006, 12:42:11 PM
I would like to see a great examination of the "diversity" argument in favor of AA.

Blacks may suffer from a stereotype bias, but what about the poor?  In my experience, poor kids, who have not had educational role models, have gone to bad schools, etc. tend to think of themselves as at a disadvantage on standardized tests vs. wealthy, advantaged kids.  It seems that this would be an argument for using socioeconomic class as a factor in AA as well.

For me, the diversity argument is a more compelling justification.  Yes, AA benefits those minority candidates that underperformed on the standardized LSAT test.  But it also benefits everyone in the class with them, who receives the benefit of a unique viewpoint in the group.  Especially in law school, where the socratic method and learning from fellow students is a big factor, I think diversity is vital.  It doesn't matter if a student is poor and black or rich and black.  His or her minority status will give a different perspective (as shown in the stereotype bias test where minority students filled in the missing letters differently than White students.)
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 12:48:30 PM
If the LSAT measures ability to succeed during the first year of law school, and if blacks are adversely affected by a "stereotype threat" when taking the LSAT, is there any reason to think that they would not suffer this same sort of mental lapse during their first-year exams?  When would the stereotype threat expire?  Would they perform worse at law firms or on the BAR as well?   

I don't deny that blacks (especially high-achieving ones) may suffer because of stereotypes regarding their racial group's intelligence.  However, I don't see how the solution to this problem could reasonably involve artificial inflation of black test scores.  Such a measure would just further this "stereotype threat."


If the LSAT measures ability to succeed during the first year of law school, and if blacks are adversely affected by a "stereotype threat" when taking the LSAT, is there any reason to think that they would not suffer this same sort of mental lapse during their first-year exams?  When would the stereotype threat expire?  Would they perform worse at law firms or on the BAR as well?   

I don't deny that blacks (especially high-achieving ones) may suffer because of stereotypes regarding their racial group's intelligence.  However, I don't see how the solution to this problem could reasonably involve artificial inflation of black test scores.  Such a measure would just further this "stereotype threat."

I think the problem is that no other solutions have been reasonably attempted. While AA's effect on sterotype threat is uncertain, it will probably help to reduce other causes of the black/white acheivement gap (SES for example). Also, it's important to note that no one is saying this is THE cause of black underachievement. It's just one of a myriad of possible reasons that hasn't been widely discussed.


This is a good question from Hank Reardon, and a good answer from Leo.

There is no question that stereotype threat exists in 1st year exams. The question, as Leo suggests, is that there are potential remedies to the stereotype threat that have been tried very successfuly at the undergraduate level (and in very challenging courses) that have very dramatically reduced this effect.

The 21st Century Program at Michigan is one such example. This program reduced the race gap in GPA.

Here's some blurb on it:

"At the University of Michigan, Steele helped design the 21st Century Program as one alternative. The program is a racially integrated transition program for new students that includes voluntary, challenging workshops in addition to regular classes and a seminar on adjustment to college life. In its first two years of operation, black students in the program earned significantly better grades than a control group of black students, and those in the top two-thirds of the standardized test distribution earned first semester grades essentially the same as white students with equivalent entering tests scores. "We also know from follow-up data that their higher grade performance continued at least through their sophomore year, and that by that time, only one of them had dropped out," Steele reported."

The problem is that these kinds of intelligent approaches to reducing the disparate effect of the stereotype threat are pilot-tested, proven successful, and then abandoned or not replicated.

I think that it would be fair and worthwhile for law schools to institute these kinds of programs.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 12:51:56 PM
Thank you for your thoughtful response to my post, Red. I'm learning a lot from this thread and it's also helping me resolve questions I have about AA as a supporter of AA. I guess I don't have much to say because I agree with many of the points you raised and didn't know about others so I have homework to do :)

Cheers. Thanks for leading the discussion off to a great start
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 12:55:10 PM
I would like to see a great examination of the "diversity" argument in favor of AA.

I think that there's a case to be made for AA based on a diversity rationale. I think, though, that most people understand the thinking behind it, and either reject or accept it.

I don't know that any further debate about it will change anyone's mind. Nor do I think that it would deepen their understanding about the arguments for or against AA.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 01:04:07 PM

I wonder why this happens. It can't be short attention span because the program you described seems to have produced results relatively quickly. It wasn't an unnecessary drain on resources because it was proven successful, after all...yet it was abandoned anyway. I don't understand why so much research goes into figuring out the reasons for the achievement gap between blacks and whites if the suggestions are going to be ignored.

I don't know why it happens either, but it is not unique to this issue: the field of public health, for example, is replete with pilot projects that have proven highly efficacious, highly cost-effective, and have nevertheless been abandoned after the pilot test is over. The same, I think, is true in every field of social action.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: goodgal on June 08, 2006, 01:07:48 PM
tag
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: John Galt on June 08, 2006, 01:14:34 PM
I've seen similar studies before, although the "phenomenon" was called the Pygmalion Effect.  It seems as though this entire argument rests on the presumption that

a) this stereotype threat exists andb) if it does in fact exists, it justifies corrective action

.

ummm....I don't think there is any dispute that it exists. And why wouldn't it justify corrective action?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 01:20:19 PM
I've seen similar studies before, although the "phenomenon" was called the Pygmalion Effect.  It seems as though this entire argument rests on the presumption that

a) this stereotype threat exists and
b) if it does in fact exists, it justifies corrective action

.

Sure. Although I'm taking pains not to presume these things but to demonstrate that all available scientific evidence says that they do exist. I have cited the studies, and they have not been challenged methodologically or in terms of their results. Quite the opposite, they have been replicated many times over, and for various groups: blacks, whites, women etc., with the same results. I encourage yoou to to read what I have posted in great detail, to follow up with the citations, and to respond to them in a thoughtful and nuanced way.

That this effect justifies correction is not a presumption of my argument, but its conclusion. I encourage you to have a look at the outline of my narrative (the first post) and to see where its weaknesses as an argument may lie.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 01:25:14 PM
I dont have any problem with AA, but I dont think "Stereotype Threat" is a very good justification.

I can't help but be skeptical when someone claims they can radically alter your behavior by placing a hex on you.  Especially when that hex is predicated on something as complex as your identity.  Even if the stereotype threat is sound, and there is proof it gets articulated in the context of race/gender, that does nothing to discount the potential zillions of other insecurities every individual is functioning under in that test room. Arent they entitled to consideration for the unrealistic expectations, and assumptions they are operating under. Isnt it stressful being a rich white man with all the expectations that you come out ahead in everything?

Its the same thing with a polygraph test.  They can ask you a question and you will register a response but there are a zillion psychological factors that can go into that physical response beyond whether you are lying.

Okay, this is interesting.

There are of course individual differences in the way that people respond to stereotype threat. On the other hand, the studies that I have cited demonstrate a systematic response by the groups - blacks, whites, women, asians - that are based on the identity that is relevant to the threat being examined.

It would be remarkable -- and, in social science, nearly impossible -- for these results to be coincidental.

I encourage you to read carefully what I have excerpted, and if you have specific concerns (rather than a general "I'm skeptical of social psychology"), go ahead and post what those concerns are.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: WarrenG on June 08, 2006, 01:28:21 PM
"As a factual matter, it has been shown, using longitudinal survey data, that applicants who had been admitted under Affirmative Action at Michigan Law went on to lead careers that were as productive, as accomplished and as well renumerated as those of white students"

If you don't mind me asking, how did they measure productivity and accomplishment in this study?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 01:36:43 PM
"As a factual matter, it has been shown, using longitudinal survey data, that applicants who had been admitted under Affirmative Action at Michigan Law went on to lead careers that were as productive, as accomplished and as well renumerated as those of white students"

If you don't mind me asking, how did they measure productivity and accomplishment in this study?

By the usual metrics. I'll look it up and give you an exact response.  :)
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 01:40:11 PM
you mention women here.  do you think that women should receive some sort of boost in the admissions process? (i'm fairly certain that they don't anymore, although I could be wrong.)

Women do not seem to bear the brunt of stereotype threat in relation to the LSAT. So for law school admissions purposes, my provisional answer is no.

Women do, however, face a stereotype threat in traditionally "male" disciplines -- namely engineering, math etc - and in those cases, I would support a correction for that effect.

I think that's fair?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 01:48:18 PM

I guess the first problem for me is qualifying the stereotype and demonstrating that its pervasive.  From what I can tell these studies are assuming the participants are all aware of the stereotypes to a uniform degree.

 Did they control for people from the south, ceratin metropolitan areas, people that had gone to private vs public school, people  with families from lower income brackets, people who had college educated family members, the kind of media people were exposed to, etc etc? Cause I would bet all of those factor into a persons understanding of a stereotype.

You have to bear in mind that, in each of these studies, they are taking one a group that is highly accomplished in a field, randomly selecting half of the people in that group and exposing it to a stereotype fear, and comparing the results. The chances that a randomly-selected group would have a systematic bias in any other way than their exposure to the stereotype threat, and that that systematic bias is around a factor that affects performance, are unimaginably small.

Keep in mind also that these tests have been replicated over and over again across different continents, time periods, cities, contexts, etc. What are the chances that it could be anything other than stereotype threat?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 01:49:40 PM
you mention women here.  do you think that women should receive some sort of boost in the admissions process? (i'm fairly certain that they don't anymore, although I could be wrong.)

Women do not seem to bear the brunt of stereotype threat in relation to the LSAT. So for law school admissions purposes, my provisional answer is no.

Women do, however, face a sterotype threat in traditionally "male" disciplines -- namely engineering, math etc - and in those cases, I would support a correction for that effect.

I think that's fair?

I think, actually that there may already be some correction in place in (some of) those fields.  I've heard, for instance, that it's a lot easier for women to be accepted to top business schools.  I'm not sure to what extent this is true, but it seems logical.

That's a good example, and it's true that business schools practice affirmative action for women.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 01:51:52 PM

At the risk of being snide, sure it derserves a corection, but if its just a psychological problem it warrants psychological fix: some sort of pre test counseling regimen.  Thats what the studies seem to indicate works.

That may very well be the first-best solution. And in the absence of such a program? What do you think would be fair?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: dividebyzero on June 08, 2006, 02:02:39 PM
Red, you sweetie, you! You've consistently given us a beautiful, studied, well-reasoned, and insightful commentary on AA despite LSD's usually repetitive and unproductive discussions. For once, this thread has been a pleasure to read, and I look forward to seeing the discussion continue.

Thanks Red, maybe there's hope after all  :)
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: H4CS on June 08, 2006, 02:03:53 PM
Tag with skepticism that merits more thought.  Can this all be grounded on the stereotype threat or is that merely a transmission mechanism?  Does grounding this on stereotype threat shield what lies beneath.  Could deeper analysis perhaps lead to a more targeted intervention that could address these issues.  A quick analogy before I do more thinking:

Black male life expectency is much shorter than White male life expectency in America.  In fact, as Sen points out, Black American males live shorter than Chinese and Keralan males (White American males live longer than both).  It would seem silly to me to argue that the best way to address these health shortcomings would be to cite a number of studies on vitamin deficiency to explain the difference.  That's sort of what this feels like.  I don't agree with the principles, I just think that you've giving too much centrality to what is essentially a symptom and not the problem.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 02:10:04 PM
Red, you sweetie, you! You've consistently given us a beautiful, studied, well-reasoned, and insightful commentary on AA despite LSD's usually repetitive and unproductive discussions. For once, this thread has been a pleasure to read, and I look forward to seeing the discussion continue.

Thanks Red, maybe there's hope after all  :)

Haha. Thanks. I thought three times before starting this thread, and I'm hoping that it is #500 and that you owe me a prize  ;)
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 02:12:12 PM
Ta dah. Its that easy! This study is after all undisputed  ;)

Okay. You seem unpersuaded but you can't seem to articulate why. I get that.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 02:30:53 PM
Tag with skepticism that merits more thought.  Can this all be grounded on the stereotype threat or is that merely a transmission mechanism?  Does grounding this on stereotype threat shield what lies beneath.  Could deeper analysis perhaps lead to a more targeted intervention that could address these issues.  A quick analogy before I do more thinking:

Black male life expectency is much shorter than White male life expectency in America.  In fact, as Sen points out, Black American males live shorter than Chinese and Keralan males (White American males live longer than both).  It would seem silly to me to argue that the best way to address these health shortcomings would be to cite a number of studies on vitamin deficiency to explain the difference.  That's sort of what this feels like.  I don't agree with the principles, I just think that you've giving too much centrality to what is essentially a symptom and not the problem.

Stereotype threat is a symptom of societal stereotypes, and not a symptom of URM insecurities as such. The remedy, therefore, and in the ideal, would be a society without negative stereotypes. That would eliminate the problem for this group - i.e. the highly-motivated, high-achieving URM applicant who has earned a UGPA that is sufficient to earn him/her consideration for a T14/T50 school.

Short of that, one could eliminate tests that do more than is acceptable to highlight these societal faults, and to invert these faults to make them appear to be instead the fault of the people who are negatively stereotyped.

Failing both of these, it seems to me justifiable and fair to remedy this effect via affirmative action.

My point is that there are underlying societal problems, that the current heavy reliance on the LSAT severely amplifies those problems via a well-documented process, and that schools should either not rely on the LSAT or, in the alternative, should use affirmative action as a remedy.

To do otherwise would be grossly unfair, in my view.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Quintana on June 08, 2006, 02:36:43 PM
Tag with skepticism that merits more thought.  Can this all be grounded on the stereotype threat or is that merely a transmission mechanism?  Does grounding this on stereotype threat shield what lies beneath.  Could deeper analysis perhaps lead to a more targeted intervention that could address these issues.  A quick analogy before I do more thinking:

Black male life expectency is much shorter than White male life expectency in America.  In fact, as Sen points out, Black American males live shorter than Chinese and Keralan males (White American males live longer than both).  It would seem silly to me to argue that the best way to address these health shortcomings would be to cite a number of studies on vitamin deficiency to explain the difference.  That's sort of what this feels like.  I don't agree with the principles, I just think that you've giving too much centrality to what is essentially a symptom and not the problem.

  But this particular symptom is central to the justification of AA (the topic of this thread),  regardless of the root cause of the problem.

  Incidentally, I'm fairly sure Sen advocates for SES based AA.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: H4CS on June 08, 2006, 02:38:56 PM
Stereotype threat is a symptom of societal stereotypes, and not a symptom of URM insecurities as such. The remedy, therefore, and in the ideal, would be a society without negative stereotypes by race

I don't think so, Red and you seem to be aritifically stopping your analysis at this point.  Societal stereotypes are not the cause of racial inequality but are narratives constructed to blame the victims of institutional racism for their  low social standing.  The goal is not a society without negative stereotypes by race, but a society without pervasive institutional racism (which is the ultimate cause of the stereotypes).

Quote
Short of that, one could eliminate tests that do more than is acceptable to highlight these societal faults, and to invert these faults to make them appear to be instead the fault of the people who are negatively stereotyped.

Short even of that, it seems to me justifiable and fair to remedy this effect via affirmative action.

I agree with these points.  As I said before, I think that you need to ground this on something deeper than stereotype threat.  In my previous analogy, vitamin deficiency cannot be used to ground a comprehensive approach to addressing discrepensies in the expected lifespan.  Vitamin deficiencies are a symptom of nutritional shortcomings that are a symptom of deeper, structural, institutional problems.  Same goes with stereotype threat.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 02:45:53 PM
I don't think so, Red and you seem to be aritifically stopping your analysis at this point.  Societal stereotypes are not the cause of racial inequality but are narratives constructed to blame the victims of institutional racism for their  low social standing.  The goal is not a society without negative stereotypes by race, but a society without pervasive institutional racism (which is the ultimate cause of the stereotypes).

I agree with these points.  As I said before, I think that you need to ground this on something deeper than stereotype threat.  In my previous analogy, vitamin deficiency cannot be used to ground a comprehensive approach to addressing discrepensies in the expected lifespan.  Vitamin deficiencies are a symptom of nutritional shortcomings that are a symptom of deeper, structural, institutional problems.  Same goes with stereotype threat.

Okay, I think that we are talking at two different levels.

I am concentrating on the justification for AA as a remedy for the current crop of law school applicants, not as a first-best  correction for the problem of institutional racism in the United States.

Vitamin deficiencies are indeed a symptom of deeper problems, and yet you and I would nevertheless both argue for Vitamin A distribution now while those structural problems are addressed over time. Right?

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: H4CS on June 08, 2006, 02:53:12 PM
I don't think so, Red and you seem to be aritifically stopping your analysis at this point.  Societal stereotypes are not the cause of racial inequality but are narratives constructed to blame the victims of institutional racism for their  low social standing.  The goal is not a society without negative stereotypes by race, but a society without pervasive institutional racism (which is the ultimate cause of the stereotypes).

I agree with these points.  As I said before, I think that you need to ground this on something deeper than stereotype threat.  In my previous analogy, vitamin deficiency cannot be used to ground a comprehensive approach to addressing discrepensies in the expected lifespan.  Vitamin deficiencies are a symptom of nutritional shortcomings that are a symptom of deeper, structural, institutional problems.  Same goes with stereotype threat.

Okay, I think that we are talking at two different levels.

I am concentrating on the justification for AA as a remedy for the current crop of law school applicants, not as a first-best  correction for the problem of institutional racism in the United States.

Vitamin deficiencies are indeed a symptom of deeper problems, and yet you and I would nevertheless both argue for Vitamin A distribution now while those structural problems are addressed over time. Right?

Yes, but then you need something before your first point.

0.  There continues to exist systematic, multifacited, and pervasive racism within American society that is manifested in a myriad of different ways.

Then the first point can become one of a number of quantitative theories by which point 0 can be measured.  My concern is that without point 0, this whole justification seems vulnerable.  What would you say if studies proved that incoming college students who undertook the same experiements 5 years later showed that the stereotype threat was diminishing over time?  Would that alone be a reason to reduce AA?  I should hope not, unless URM performance on the LSAT correspondingly improved.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: magnumalv on June 08, 2006, 02:56:25 PM
...tag...
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 03:08:41 PM
What would you say if studies proved that incoming college students who undertook the same experiements 5 years later showed that the stereotype threat was diminishing over time?  Would that alone be a reason to reduce AA?  I should hope not, unless URM performance on the LSAT correspondingly improved.

If the stereotype threat diminishes over time, then this justification will wither with it. LSAT scores (after controlling for SES etc) will be equivalent, GPAs will be equivalent, and the need for affirmative action that systematically attempts to counteract a test-gap score will also vanish.

The weakness, as I see it, is just the opposite: that the test-gap sore and stereotype threat have remained static over a generation. This suggests that affirmative action does not address the root societal problems, and may actually subsidize the continued existence of the systematic racism in our institutions, by not making the latter expensive enough, embarrassing enough, to change.

Nevertheless, in terms of the frame that I am focused on (is it unfair for URMs with lower LSATs to be admitted to law school?) I maintain that it is not unfair, and that the opposite it true -- that it would be very unfair if they weren't.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: H4CS on June 08, 2006, 03:16:08 PM
What would you say if studies proved that incoming college students who undertook the same experiements 5 years later showed that the stereotype threat was diminishing over time?  Would that alone be a reason to reduce AA?  I should hope not, unless URM performance on the LSAT correspondingly improved.

If the stereotype threat diminishes over time, then this justification will wither with it. LSAT scores (after controlling for SES etc) will be equivalent, GPAs will be equivalent, and the need for affirmative action that systematically attempts to counteract a test-gap score will also vanish.

Re-read the paragraph you quoted, you just fell for the trap that I set and then explained.  I believe in the existence of the stereotype threat as one of a number of transmission mechanisms whereby racial inequality is perpetuated.  It is possible for the stereotype to diminish with inequality diminishing, in fact, it could increase if the other mechanisms were strengthened.  AA should only decrease when racial inequality decreases, not just when one of its transmission mechanisms decreases.

Quote
The weakness, as I see it, is just the opposite: that the test-gap sore and stereotype threat have remained static over a generation. This suggests that affirmative action does not address the root societal problems, and may actually subsidize the continued existence of the systematic racism in our institutions, by not making the latter expensive enough, embarrassing enough, to change.

Stereotype threat hasn't changed because it is predicated on the very real existence of a performance gap on the LSAT.  There was a gap thirty years ago and there is still one today, why should we expect stereotype threat to have vanished when there has been no concerted effort to improve the test?  I think the answer is maintaining AA while addressing the structural problems with the LSAT that would work to address both short-term and long-term issues.


Quote
Nevertheless, in terms of the frame that I am focused on (is it unfair for URMs with lower LSATs to be admitted to law school?) I maintain that it is not unfair, and that the opposite it true -- that it would be very unfair if they weren't.

Yeah, but you don't need stereotype threat to argue that, it's just elementary.  If there's a performance gap by race on the LSAT after reasonable controlling for other variables, of course corrective action needs to be taken, regardless of the reason for the gap.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: dun on June 08, 2006, 03:32:26 PM
One question: why do they score lower on standardized tests?  I don't buy the confidence thing.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 03:33:48 PM
#1. I believe in the existence of the stereotype threat as one of a number of transmission mechanisms whereby racial inequality is perpetuated.  It is possible for the stereotype to diminish with inequality diminishing, in fact, it could increase if the other mechanisms were strengthened.  AA should only decrease when racial inequality decreases, not just when one of its transmission mechanisms decreases.

#2. Stereotype threat hasn't changed because it is predicated on the very real existence of a performance gap on the LSAT.  There was a gap thirty years ago and there is still one today, why should we expect stereotype threat to have vanished when there has been no concerted effort to improve the test? I think the answer is maintaining AA while addressing the structural problems with the LSAT that would work to address both short-term and long-term issues.

#3. Yeah, but you don't need stereotype threat to argue that, it's just elementary.  If there's a performance gap by race on the LSAT after reasonable controlling for other variables, of course corrective action needs to be taken, regardless of the reason for the gap.

I agree that stereotype threat is a mechanism of transmission. I agree that it is caused by structural racism. I agree that steroetype threat is unlikely to diminish unless structural racism - both in the design of the test and in the wider society - are eliminated. And I concede that the existence of AA actually diminishes the chances that the LSAT will be redesigned -- that is AA's great weakness, in my view.

I take issue only with point #3. It is not obvious to everyone that "if there's a performance gap by race on the LSAT after reasonable controlling for other variables, of course corrective action needs to be taken, regardless of the reason for the gap".

Some/many (perhaps most) people believe that the reasons for the performance gap are genetic, or due to some cultural fault of URMs. This line of reasoning leads to the conclusion that URMs are therefore "mismatched" at he law schools that they attend, and that they are "unqualified", and "lesser".

The main stress of my argument is that this is simply not plausible in the light of the evidence. I am saying that the disparity in index scores (after adjusting for all the usual variables -- SES etc) is due to the stereotype threat, and that the stereotype threat is - on average - felt most by the most able and qualified and motivated individuals within the URM groups.


Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 03:34:29 PM

Maybe Im just confused as to definition of "stereotype threat." Can somebody explain it concisely?


No. Read up on it for yourself.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: dun on June 08, 2006, 03:35:36 PM
And that wasn't flame.  Are they just in worse school districts in general or something?  Less family educational history?  Idk.  Not flame though.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: H4CS on June 08, 2006, 03:38:10 PM
I take issue only with point #3. It is not obvious to everyone that "if there's a performance gap by race on the LSAT after reasonable controlling for other variables, of course corrective action needs to be taken, regardless of the reason for the gap".

Some/many (perhaps most) people believe that the reasons for the performance gap are genetic, or due to some cultural fault of URMs. This line of reasoning leads to the conclusion that URMs are therefore "mismatched" at he law schools that they attend, and that they are "unqualified", and "lesser".

Goodness, you're actually trying to convince people who believe this stuff?  Oh wow, forget my comments, we're really talking about apples and oranges here.  Tennis against a wall, my dear, tennis against a wall.  People like this are good for one thing on bulliten boards and one thing alone: making fun of Stan because they are also heading to CLS.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 03:39:30 PM
And that wasn't flame.  Are they just in worse school districts in general or something?  Less family educational history?  Idk.  Not flame though.

Here's the short version:

URMs score lower on standardized tests than the majority (white) population for a host of social, economic and psychological reasons.  The combination of reasons will vary according to which group you're talking about and at what level of standardized testing.

At the level of the LSAT, and for URMs with a good GPA, the single largest problem seems to be that, aware of societal stereotypes that blacks don't do well on it, their test-taking strategy (being extra-careful, second-guessing answers that seem "too simple", etc) reflects both their desire to perform well and their fear that they may "let the side down" and confirm societal stereotypes.

This effect is subconscious pervasive, especially among URMs who are bright and accomplished.

The phenomenon itself (it is called "stereotype threat" by psychologists) is not just a URM thing: it depends on the context. For example:

Tell a group of white students who are great at math that you're giving them a test to figure out why Asians are better at math, and the white students will do worse, much worse, on that test than if you hadn't said anything. And here's the kicker -- they're not even aware of why they've bombed the test.

In our society, if we're honest, blacks and Mexicans and such are seen as less bright than whites and Asians. Because of this, on tests such as the LSAT, IQ, SAT and so on, the stereotype threat affects them most, and whites least.

I hope that's a little bit clear
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: chidochido on June 08, 2006, 03:48:20 PM
Bumper...
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 04:42:34 PM
Okay -- I'm out for a bit. Feel free to post germane and thoughtful ideas after having read the first 2 posts -- just please don't hijack; there are plenty of other threads.

I'll get back to it later tonight.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: dun on June 08, 2006, 05:24:19 PM
Thanks red, I've heard something about that before, in like freshman year. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on June 08, 2006, 07:18:25 PM
I remember reading the 1998 Atlantic article by Steele.  I feel old.  (tag)

You and me both, gorgeous.  (tag)
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Lurking Third Year on June 08, 2006, 08:28:20 PM
But, according to Sanders' study, the LSAT does accurately reflect african americans' performance in law school.  If the LSAT was not accurately reflecting african american applicants' potential to do well in law school, wouldn't we expect african americans to perform, as a group, at a higher level than their scores would indicate? 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 08, 2006, 08:38:32 PM
But, according to Sanders' study, the LSAT does accurately reflect african americans' performance in law school.  If the LSAT was not accurately reflecting african american applicants' potential to do well in law school, wouldn't we expect african americans to perform, as a group, at a higher level than their scores would indicate? 

Okay, a fair question that deserves a full answer. I'm a bit tipsy at the moment, and I'll attempt to do some justice to the answer tomorrow morning.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Lurking Third Year on June 08, 2006, 09:53:02 PM
But, according to Sanders' study, the LSAT does accurately reflect african americans' performance in law school.  If the LSAT was not accurately reflecting african american applicants' potential to do well in law school, wouldn't we expect african americans to perform, as a group, at a higher level than their scores would indicate? 

I suppose one could argue that the same "stereotype threat" will also govern URM's performance in law school. 

Well, and I admit that I skimmed parts of the thread, I thought red. and others were implying that it didn't affect grades in UG, so I don't know why it would affect them in law school.

I just think that any argument that the LSAT somehow understates african americans' ability to succeed in law school is contradicted by the fact that the LSAT does not, in fact, understate their ability, as demonstrated by Sanders' study.  I'm sure red. has something to add, and the matter probably isn't so cut and dry, but it seems liek the LSAT is measuring waht it purports to measure -- the ability to do well in law school -- and it is doing so in a fairly accurate manner for african americans, or at least no less accurately than for other races/groups.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Lurking Third Year on June 08, 2006, 09:53:55 PM
But, according to Sanders' study, the LSAT does accurately reflect african americans' performance in law school.  If the LSAT was not accurately reflecting african american applicants' potential to do well in law school, wouldn't we expect african americans to perform, as a group, at a higher level than their scores would indicate? 

Okay, a fair question that deserves a full answer. I'm a bit tipsy at the moment, and I'll attempt to do some justice to the answer tomorrow morning.

Cool red.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: LawSchoolHopeful2009 on June 08, 2006, 10:22:51 PM
I now have a non-sexual crush on red and I'm not even a lesbian  :P. Great thread red- I don't think I've ever come across a post on LSD that was as thought out and researched as this one. Kudos!
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Lily Jaye on June 08, 2006, 10:24:29 PM
Fascinating thread overall... I believe in the stereotype threat!

One point I found interesting, the very last bit about how African-Americans' blood pressure was higher during some tests. I've often wondered whether blacks' higher rates of high blood pressure and heart disease in the population weren't due to the stress of being black in this society, rather than some kind of genetic predisposition. They oughtta do a study...

They have.  Many, in fact. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Mr. Pink on June 09, 2006, 06:27:40 AM
I remember reading the 1998 Atlantic article by Steele.  I feel old.  (tag)


Im going to get this article. Thanks red.  Great thread.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Lurking Third Year on June 09, 2006, 06:29:19 AM
But, according to Sanders' study, the LSAT does accurately reflect african americans' performance in law school.  If the LSAT was not accurately reflecting african american applicants' potential to do well in law school, wouldn't we expect african americans to perform, as a group, at a higher level than their scores would indicate? 

I suppose one could argue that the same "stereotype threat" will also govern URM's performance in law school. 

Well, and I admit that I skimmed parts of the thread, I thought red. and others were implying that it didn't affect grades in UG, so I don't know why it would affect them in law school.

I just think that any argument that the LSAT somehow understates african americans' ability to succeed in law school is contradicted by the fact that the LSAT does not, in fact, understate their ability, as demonstrated by Sanders' study.  I'm sure red. has something to add, and the matter probably isn't so cut and dry, but it seems liek the LSAT is measuring waht it purports to measure -- the ability to do well in law school -- and it is doing so in a fairly accurate manner for african americans, or at least no less accurately than for other races/groups.

There was some talk about the UMichigan stats indicating these students went on to illustrious careers. Not sure if their grades were correlated to the LSATs but I think ultimately they turned out aight.

Well, the whole premise of the argument is that stereotype threat is causing URMs to perform poorly on the LSAT, and thus their scores don't reflect their true ability.  This premise is belied by the fact that, the LSAT does appear to reflect their ability to perform in law school, ot at least it is as correlated w/law school performance as it is for other races.  The point about careers really has nothing to do w/whether stereo type threat causes URMs to acheive unrepresentative scores on the LSAT.

Plus, I know this was discussed a little above, but I don't know if you can generalize from UMich to all other law schools.  Just gonig from memory, in his study, Sanders basically said that AA admits at the top schools -- and I'll include UMich as a top school -- did benefit from AA, but that these benefits were much less clear, and in his opinion nonexistent, at lower ranked schools.  
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 09, 2006, 07:00:35 AM
I haven't had time to read this entire thread, but I remember reading somewhere (Was it Blink by Malcolm Gladwell?  Can't remember) that blacks do worse on standardized tests when they have to identify themselves as black before the test.  It was a significant decrease too.  It is similar to that Implicit Association Test.  Most people, including blacks, have an implicit bias toward whites and will think of themselves as dumber when they identify themselves as black and are reminded of this before the test.  This may explain at least part of this stereotype threat.

Interestingly, this implicit bias can be lessened for either race by viewing pictures of positive black role models such as MLK or Muhammad Ali before taking an IAT (and by extension a standardized test that involves identifying race).

Yes. I think you're onto something here, but I want to unpack it a little bit, and be clear about what the stereotype effect is and isn't.

It is not so much that blacks and other URMs identify themselves as dumber. It is more that they subconsciously believe that their performance in standardized tests will be taken by others as an indication that they are. In this way, high-performing, high-ability, highly-motivated black and other URM students pursue inefficient test-taking strategies that lead them, on average, to perform more poorly than they would have otherwise.

I want to once again emphasize that the evidence shows that susceptibility to stereotype threat is not a peculiarly or innately a black or URM issue:

I want, for example, to re-cite the study in which white male undergraduates with nearly perfect scores in the math portion of the SAT  - a group that is unlikely to have an innate inferiority complex - were asked to do a difficult math test. When they were primed to believe that the test was intended to figure out why Asians were better at math, they performed very poorly, and when they were not so primed, they performed very well.

Stereotype threat, then, is conditional on the environment and not innate to either the individual or to any particular group.

Further, it would be a very big stretch to imagine that the students' true abilities are measured by their performance score when operating under the stereotype threat, rather than when they are not. In the study of the white male math whizzes, it would be hard to argue that their true ability at math was reflected in their performance when primed to believe that the researcher assumed that Asians were better at math, than their performance under 'neutral' conditions.


AND: thanks for the links, LadyTrojan
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 09, 2006, 07:28:14 AM
LadyTrojan - yes, thanks.  :)

Also: I'd prefer it if we didn't deviate too much into a discussion of the causes of hypertension.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: umd blue devil on June 09, 2006, 07:36:55 AM
ok

the government can legally use racial discrimination if it goes a good.

diversity = a good.

hmmm cant that same logic be used to support discrimination against blacks?

pretty lame liberals preach about discriminationing against whites/asians in order to *help* blacks kinda funny how black families are not better off today after 30+ years of AA than they were right after Jim Crow laws ended. but i guess this means we need even more AA, right?

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on June 09, 2006, 08:10:58 AM
ok

the government can legally use racial discrimination if it goes a good.

diversity = a good.

hmmm cant that same logic be used to support discrimination against blacks?

pretty lame liberals preach about discriminationing against whites/asians in order to *help* blacks kinda funny how black families are not better off today after 30+ years of AA than they were right after Jim Crow laws ended. but i guess this means we need even more AA, right?


That's not the rationale for affirmative action that's operating in this thread.  Red. is trying (admirably) to offer a different way into this discussion.  Please read her first post.  There are plenty of other threads where you can make this "argument."
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: umd blue devil on June 09, 2006, 08:21:47 AM


miss p,

fair enough

red quote "It is not so much that blacks and other URMs identify themselves as dumber. It is more that they subconsciously believe that their performance in standardized tests will be taken by others as an indication that they are." Thus "...high-performing, high-ability, highly-motivated black and other URM students pursue inefficient test-taking strategies."

How on Earth did u come to thank conclusion? I think if I score low on the lsat people will think im dumb, that doesnt mean I am going to study bad.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 09, 2006, 08:23:58 AM
LadyTrojan - yes, thanks.  :)

Also: I'd prefer it if we didn't deviate too much into a discussion of the causes of hypertension.

red,

if you didn't notice, a similiar effect of the hypertension discussion occurs with the LSAT, where the advantage goes to the majority group.  The cognitive process used to solve problems varies from person to person, but may also vary between groups.  Where there are multiple ways to approach problems, the LSAT or other standardized tests may be biased towards rewarding a single preselected process, which may be more characteristic in the majority population.  That's not to say there could be alternative cognitive methods that could solve the problem more efficiently in a different context.

What this is suggesting is the stereotype threat isn't being evaluated deeply enough.  The priming effect that you're using is basically activating different cognitive processes for solving the problem (ie: priming with personal ability versus psychological evaluation).  Yes, the effect may exist, but 'threat' baggage is probably overplayed.  The assumption that I'm seeing purported is that LSAT is absolutely objective (for the most part it is), but the selection and evaluation is normed to the group, making it objective relative to the majority group.  The methods employed by different groups to solve problems may differ (won't enter the genetic versus cultural argument, but both may be present), but the caveat is the LSAT as a subset will test the more efficient ones employed by the majority group.  That probably plays part of the role, but not to justification degree that I believe your original argument was advocating. 



Okay, this is on-topic after all. Sorry for my confusion.

Given your analysis, how would you explain the cases in which stereotype threat undert standardized test conditions negatively affect:

1. white men when they are primed to believe that there's an assumption of Asians' superior performance

2. women when they are primed to believe that men perform better at math & science (in one study) and business negotiation (in another study)

3. White athletes in a golf exercise when primed to believe that it was a test of “natural athletic ability” (a stereotypically black trait); and black athletes when primed to believe that it was a test of “sports strategic intelligence” (a stereotypically white trait).

4. Lower-class students in France when primed to believe that poor students would do worse?
(Croizet, J. -C., Désert, M. & Dutrévis, M. (2001). Stereotype threat, social class and gender: When our reputation catches up with us and takes over. Social Psychology of Education, 4, 295-310.)

It is important to note that in each of these cases, when the stereotype effect was removed or reversed, the performance effect was also reversed, and the privileged / unprivileged gap was reduced to nil.

While I'm open to an argument that relies on differential cognitive processes, I think that such a narrative would have to explain these results.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 09, 2006, 08:29:16 AM
red quote "It is not so much that blacks and other URMs identify themselves as dumber. It is more that they subconsciously believe that their performance in standardized tests will be taken by others as an indication that they are." Thus "...high-performing, high-ability, highly-motivated black and other URM students pursue inefficient test-taking strategies."

How on Earth did u come to thank conclusion? I think if I score low on the lsat people will think im dumb, that doesnt mean I am going to study bad.

I have, in the first 2 posts in this thread, tried to explain my position more fully than in what you have quoted. I have also cited the actual studies  that have demonstrated this effect. The best that I can do is to refer you to them, and to urge you to read them as critically as you can, and see if you can identify the flaws in their methodology.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: _BP_ on June 09, 2006, 08:56:25 AM
one helluva thread.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: umd blue devil on June 09, 2006, 08:58:37 AM
maybe i misread it but i nott see anything that showed that they study less efficienty because they thought they would look dumb to others if they did poorly.

"The threat made them inefficient on a test that, like most standardized tests, is set up so that thinking long often means thinking wrong,"

now inefficient on a test isnt not studying inefficiently.

also on the lsat, where time is the most important variable i can see somewhat (not justifibly though) how that can factor in, but pretty much every exam URMs do worse and many of those time is not an issue, like the SAT. seriously time isnt a factor on the SAT, its a pretty simple exam which gives u much more time than u need, yet only like 125 black males score above 1400 in the entire nation per year.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 09, 2006, 09:36:42 AM
After having actually read your first few posts, I have to say that this is all very interesting.  Especially the part about trying too hard.  It's like the highest performers are the ones least able to deal with failure (for lack of experience) and trip over their own two feet when they are primed to think about failure.

Yes, I think that's exactly the right analogy.

--

umd blue devil -- I'll respond to your post in a bit.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: umd blue devil on June 09, 2006, 09:41:31 AM
true.


im at work and trying to surf/work lol.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: plaintext on June 09, 2006, 10:41:49 AM
LadyTrojan - yes, thanks.  :)

Also: I'd prefer it if we didn't deviate too much into a discussion of the causes of hypertension.

red,

if you didn't notice, a similiar effect of the hypertension discussion occurs with the LSAT, where the advantage goes to the majority group.  The cognitive process used to solve problems varies from person to person, but may also vary between groups.  Where there are multiple ways to approach problems, the LSAT or other standardized tests may be biased towards rewarding a single preselected process, which may be more characteristic in the majority population.  That's not to say there could be alternative cognitive methods that could solve the problem more efficiently in a different context.

What this is suggesting is the stereotype threat isn't being evaluated deeply enough.  The priming effect that you're using is basically activating different cognitive processes for solving the problem (ie: priming with personal ability versus psychological evaluation).  Yes, the effect may exist, but 'threat' baggage is probably overplayed.  The assumption that I'm seeing purported is that LSAT is absolutely objective (for the most part it is), but the selection and evaluation is normed to the group, making it objective relative to the majority group.  The methods employed by different groups to solve problems may differ (won't enter the genetic versus cultural argument, but both may be present), but the caveat is the LSAT as a subset will test the more efficient ones employed by the majority group.  That probably plays part of the role, but not to justification degree that I believe your original argument was advocating. 



Okay, this is on-topic after all. Sorry for my confusion.

Given your analysis, how would you explain the cases in which stereotype threat undert standardized test conditions negatively affect:

1. white men when they are primed to believe that there's an assumption of Asians' superior performance

2. women when they are primed to believe that men perform better at math & science (in one study) and business negotiation (in another study)

3. White athletes in a golf exercise when primed to believe that it was a test of “natural athletic ability” (a stereotypically black trait); and black athletes when primed to believe that it was a test of “sports strategic intelligence” (a stereotypically white trait).

4. Lower-class students in France when primed to believe that poor students would do worse?
(Croizet, J. -C., Désert, M. & Dutrévis, M. (2001). Stereotype threat, social class and gender: When our reputation catches up with us and takes over. Social Psychology of Education, 4, 295-310.)

It is important to note that in each of these cases, when the stereotype effect was removed or reversed, the performance effect was also reversed, and the privileged / unprivileged gap was reduced to nil.

While I'm open to an argument that relies on differential cognitive processes, I think that such a narrative would have to explain these results.

ok.. i just made the quote trace ridiculously long.

there are a few open questions on the study, which would either strenghen or weaken the findings.  there is the issue of primed and unprimed.  Did one test consistently precede the other (such that the effect could be learning).  Also the notion of the control group, which you refered to as unprimed was open.  In some of the cases they weren't neutral unprimed control groups, but instead were primed tests in another direction.  I'll assume this was an error in translation rather than the actual mathod used in the study.   Also what would be interesting is if one group were told they performed superior to another group, the latter group who was uninformed. 

I don't doubt the role of priming. it seems intuitively obvious that if a test administrator primed someone with 'think of a time you were a miserable failure or your dog/best friend died', the performance would be less than expected.  One relevant issue is what exactly is being primed?  Is it an alternate less efficient cogntive process? Is it an interferring destructive process?  Is it an emotional state?  The answer to each of these questions might provide a remedy in different directions: change the test composition itself, change the environment, or perhaps (what i saw as a big leap) provide justification for the AA boost. [as a disclaimer, I'm generally supportive of AA for diversity reasons, but most justifications based on merit aren't quite there]  going back for a moment, people are generally aware how their thoughts and behaviors differ in different social contexts (w/ family, friends, children).  What isn't always intuitively obvious is the processes also differ regarding the context in which problem solving occurs; although it becomes obvious once stated.  Every college student knows to tailor their approach to a paper to the extent expected by their professor, and the specific approach varies from professor to professor.  To a certain extent, they're altering the cognitive thought process to the approach used by the professor, so the chosen method is context sensitve (as in the social example), influenced by the professor. 

In the line-items you mentioned in the previous post, a similar mechanism is probably going on.  Those who are primed to be inferior may have passed judgement on their own abilities (i believe this is an underlying inference from your posts), or are internally  trying to switch to an alternate cognitive process to conform to the performance of the other group.  I tend to believe it's more of the latter, as analogized in the professor expectation.  The difference though is each of these woudl be remedied in different ways.

What are the potential primes on the LSAT:
  - a black person showing in a test center where 90% of the people are white could be an inherent prime. 
  - self identification of race before the test is certainly a prime. 
  - the lengthy transcription of the "I will not cheat, copy, blah blah".. perhaps that provides a prime that one is guilty, only adding to overall text anxiety of all takers including whites. 

Each of these could be corrected by simply moving the identification to the end rather than the beginning of the test.  I'm rather skeptical that this change would eliminate the differences in scores, but it would be interesting to see.  My interpretation of the difference between our two threads is yours depends on the presence of a prime, while I think the overall group effects of the LSAT as a selective agent of cognitive processes plays a role, though not to the extent in your OP.  certainly they may both be present to varying degrees

if my posts are tiresome, let me know.. honestly, im kinda boring myself :) 

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 09, 2006, 11:01:56 AM
plaintext, I'm having a hard time figuring out what you're asking or stating exactly. Probably my fault, but it may help me if you listed what your exact concern(s) is/are.

As for the studies, I have cited them so that you can look them up for yourself. There is nothing in them that I'm trying to hide.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Alamo on June 09, 2006, 11:49:09 AM
I just thought about a solution to this problem!  OK, so Red. said that because blacks and Mexicans are seen to be less intelligent than whites and Asians, the former groups will do worse on tests that are thought to measure intelligence or similar aptitudes.  Self fulfilling prophecy.  SO...why don't we take all the stand up comics that tell nothing but black jokes and why black people are crazy or whatever (thereby reaffirming these stereotypes) and take them and drop them off at the South Pole.  We'll give each person a PB&J sandwich, a bottle of water, a "good luck" and a wildly inaccurate compass.  I have been wanting to do this for years, and now I finally have a good reason.  Who's with me?!

 :D :D :D

I think we have a winner! 

Also, Red - if you think the LSAT is flawed and should be done away with, why do you respond to a post you think to be good with a cheesy "TITCR" or "176"?  Don't you realize that this only perpetuates the insanity?

BTW - This thread: 178.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: plaintext on June 09, 2006, 01:13:40 PM
plaintext, I'm having a hard time figuring out what you're asking or stating exactly. Probably my fault, but it may help me if you listed what your exact concern(s) is/are.

As for the studies, I have cited them so that you can look them up for yourself. There is nothing in them that I'm trying to hide.



red,

these are your boys.  see page 450, per competing cpgnitive processes.  my post was pure extapolation based on my understanding of cognition, however it wasn't that far off the mark per actual research.

http://www.psych.umn.edu/courses/spring06/mcguem/psy8935/readings/schmader2003.pdf


Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 09, 2006, 01:48:25 PM
Excellent, thanks. I'll read this and re-read your post and get back to you.  :)
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Thou on June 09, 2006, 02:21:39 PM
8 pages....uhhhh....I hate catching up.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Mr. Pink on June 09, 2006, 03:00:08 PM
8 pages....uhhhh....I hate catching up.

It is worth it.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SouthSide on June 09, 2006, 04:03:29 PM
Some generally interesting things to chew on in this thread. Here are a couple thoughts that I don't think have been adequately made thus far.

First, nothing said so far should be taken as a criticism of the LSAT itself. Many have argued that standardized tests are inherently culturally or racially biased, such as the famous case of the question that relied on an understanding of the word "regatta." While these biases may be present in the LSAT, this has nothing to do with the problem of "stereotype threat." In fact, the LSAT has proven to be the single most reliable predictor of performance in law school, a point which should not be glossed over. The widespread use of standardized tests in the past century was an important progressive accomplishment, playing a key role in transforming our nation's top universities from coddling grounds for East Coast elites into national meritocratic educational institutions. We shouldn't lose sight of that fact, and we should be very cautious of throwing out the baby with the bath water when we criticize standardized testing.

Second, the application of this point to the AA argument as made by red. It is critical to realize that the problem of stereotype threat exists because of deep-rooted cultural attitudes and prejudices, which appear to exert a powerful effect on all people at some  level. To put it bluntly, people tend to perform up to or down to the expectations of those around them. Thus, if one believes in the existence of the stereotype threat, one must realize that no test, however perfectly designed to predict law school performance, would ever solve the problem of score differential between racial groups so long as these stereotypes existed. Indeed, the more widely respected the test gets as a predictor of performance, the more pronounced the problem would be. The problem is not in the test, but in social attitudes.

Thus, there is a compelling argument to use Affirmative Action based on simple fairness and accurate prediction of true performance in law school. However, the bitter irony is that AA itself does help to entrench some of the very same racial stereotypes that cause the performance differential in the first place. Make no mistake: AA does send the message that different racial groups can not compete on a level playing ground. While our society puts out this destructive message in many ways, no other way commands the institutional support of affirmative action. This board has ample examples of the rancor and bitterness thrown around by those who believe that some people are getting into schools that they are unqualified for. Such rancor would be impossible if there were no AA.

Thus, we have a conundrum. AA is an important corrective to a biased admissions process, and yet AA contributes to the biases that it is intended to correct. Indeed, the gaps in scores on the SAT have not gotten smaller in the past 15 years, a fact that frustrates the hopes of many, including the Supreme Court, that AA will one day be unnecessary. Solving this problem is a very difficult square to circle. Clearly, we need to do a better job of providing equal access to education from a very young age, but this would not eliminate the stereotype threat. One wonders if perhaps better education about issues like the stereotype threat would be helpful in reducing it. I do believe that affirmative action is an important part of any just college admissions program in a prejudiced country, but I do not think it is in any way a permanent solution. I fear that it may ultimately prove an obstacle to some of the deeper reforms that need to be done.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 09, 2006, 04:35:53 PM
Hey, Southside -- great post. I have some more extensive thoughts that I want to post in response, and, since I have a free evening ahead of me, I will in a little bit along with my responses to Lurking3L, plaintext, umd blue devil and others.

I want to say right now, though, that there are broad areas of agreement between your position and mine. I too rest my justification of AA on simple fairness and predictive ability, and I too have concerns about the long term consequences of not addressing the stereotype problem and the root causes.

Where we disagree, I think, is in our view of the LSAT's role in this process. I believe that the LSAT amplifies these stereotype threat effects, and does so to an even greater extent than usual standardized tests. Given that it predicts no more than 11% of the variance in grades between one student and another, I believe that the costs of using of the LSAT vastly outweigh its benefits.

In any case, I will expand more on this and other points in a bit.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SouthSide on June 09, 2006, 05:13:51 PM
This board has ample examples of the rancor and bitterness thrown around by those who believe that some people are getting into schools that they are unqualified for. Such rancor would be impossible if there were no AA.

I have to disagree with that last statement. It somewhat contradicts your (important) point that stereotype threat will never really disappear. There are some people, quite a few examples on this board, who have it ingrained in their heads that blacks are inferior. That's not going to disappear if you eliminate AA.

I take your point, to a certain extent. I do think that affirmative action is at least an aggravating factor, and that it does send a powerful, pernicious message. Also, I never made the point that stereotypes and the many problems they create will never really disappear. It remains my (perhaps naively idealistic) belief that a society without prejudice is both possible and desirable, although I admit it's a long way to the promised land.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on June 09, 2006, 05:55:52 PM
This board has ample examples of the rancor and bitterness thrown around by those who believe that some people are getting into schools that they are unqualified for. Such rancor would be impossible if there were no AA.

I have to disagree with that last statement. It somewhat contradicts your (important) point that stereotype threat will never really disappear. There are some people, quite a few examples on this board, who have it ingrained in their heads that blacks are inferior. That's not going to disappear if you eliminate AA.

I take your point, to a certain extent. I do think that affirmative action is at least an aggravating factor, and that it does send a powerful, pernicious message. Also, I never made the point that stereotypes and the many problems they create will never really disappear. It remains my (perhaps naively idealistic) belief that a society without prejudice is both possible and desirable, although I admit it's a long way to the promised land.

I generally take Spaulding's perspective that prejudice and stereotypes are justificatory and not the base causes of racial inequality. Nonetheless, I agree (though I wouldn't have known to agree prior to my six months at LSD) that race-based affirmative action is an aggravating factor in racial tension and resentment.  (I would argue that it still does more good than harm for African American and other minority communities because of the public service commitment of so many law school graduates who are beneficiaries of affirmative action.) 

My question is this: instead of trying to minimize affirmative action in order to reduce this tension/resentment, why can't we imagine reframing the issue of "fairness" at its root?  Right now, some ask whether affirmative action is fair.  We should instead ask whether the LSAT is fair.  This thread, I think, is doing an admirable job of trying to make that shift, and I don't see why we can't try to do so on a large-scale basis.  Otherwise, we're just caving in to the notion that there is something inherently wrong with affirmative action, that racial difference is symmetrical, etc.

I understand that the revolution in standardized testing has created access to higher education for a lot of lower-class whites and some immigrants (though I think it's it's likely that its utility, if not that of most earlier standardized testing, is played out at this point).  Still, it is very possible to criticize the test based on its prima facie racial bias (regardless of whether this stems from "stereotype threat") while advocating its use in a more limited fashion, such as a threshold score, that would retain its class-integration potential. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Lurking Third Year on June 09, 2006, 06:01:33 PM
But, according to Sanders' study, the LSAT does accurately reflect african americans' performance in law school.  If the LSAT was not accurately reflecting african american applicants' potential to do well in law school, wouldn't we expect african americans to perform, as a group, at a higher level than their scores would indicate? 

Okay, a fair question that deserves a full answer. I'm a bit tipsy at the moment, and I'll attempt to do some justice to the answer tomorrow morning.

Hey red., did you ever get around to thinking about this?  Sorry if you responded and I missed it.

I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but if, due to stereo type threat, the LSAT was understating URMs ability on the LSAT, we would expect the achievement gap to close in law school, but that is simply not the case.  Thus, the implication, and this was spelled out by Sanders, is that the LSAT is effectively measuring URMs ability to perform in law school.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: lawteach on June 09, 2006, 06:35:42 PM
red, you're like the teacher that no one f*cks with. 

this thread rocks.

keep it going, i want to tear down the LSAT too!
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: habeas dorkus! on June 09, 2006, 06:50:38 PM
I give up ... BAFF.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Lurking Third Year on June 09, 2006, 07:15:09 PM
But, according to Sanders' study, the LSAT does accurately reflect african americans' performance in law school.  If the LSAT was not accurately reflecting african american applicants' potential to do well in law school, wouldn't we expect african americans to perform, as a group, at a higher level than their scores would indicate? 

Okay, a fair question that deserves a full answer. I'm a bit tipsy at the moment, and I'll attempt to do some justice to the answer tomorrow morning.

Hey red., did you ever get around to thinking about this?  Sorry if you responded and I missed it.

I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but if, due to stereo type threat, the LSAT was understating URMs ability on the LSAT, we would expect the achievement gap to close in law school, but that is simply not the case.  Thus, the implication, and this was spelled out by Sanders, is that the LSAT is effectively measuring URMs ability to perform in law school.

if you accept red's studies, the primes that would affect some URM performance on the LSAT may also be present in law school exams.  The studies used primes of "an evaluation of one's intellectual ability"  Interesting the control primes were actually diversionary rather than traditionally neutral (ie: measures of psychological performance, which could be a positive prime).

overall, the nature and type of primes weren't scrutinized carefully in the studies.  In one scenario the controls are diversionary and in another it's neutral.  Another big question in the white female study is the primes involved stereotypical differences, but it wasn't clear if the mere mention of any negative difference, irrespective of group connotation may also produce a difference in test subjects.  Until that is determined, the jump to pervasise stereotypical effects is still in question.  So basically it'd be helpfu if there was an additional control group that was primed on negative differences that did not have a stereotypical basis.  [As a side note, the age range and field of study of the test subjects was interesting.. esp the selection of psychology students for math tests]





Well, Red.'s first post indicated that this problem was unique to standardized testing.  One of her points was that, holding UG gpa constant, URM LSAT scores were lower.  There was no indication that stereotype threat had any impact on UG grades, and so I don't see why it would on law school exams. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 09, 2006, 07:29:48 PM
But, according to Sanders' study, the LSAT does accurately reflect african americans' performance in law school.  If the LSAT was not accurately reflecting african american applicants' potential to do well in law school, wouldn't we expect african americans to perform, as a group, at a higher level than their scores would indicate? 

Okay, a fair question that deserves a full answer. I'm a bit tipsy at the moment, and I'll attempt to do some justice to the answer tomorrow morning.

Hey red., did you ever get around to thinking about this?  Sorry if you responded and I missed it.

I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but if, due to stereo type threat, the LSAT was understating URMs ability on the LSAT, we would expect the achievement gap to close in law school, but that is simply not the case.  Thus, the implication, and this was spelled out by Sanders, is that the LSAT is effectively measuring URMs ability to perform in law school.

Hey, yeah. Here's the thing, I actually went back to read Sanders' study just to make sure that I hadn't skipped over something important when I read it for the first time a while back.

This is what he does, in terms of the r/ship between what he calls "admissions credentials" (i.e. the index score) and law school performance:

1) black kids do worse on the index score and they do worse in law school

2) I don't see what else could explain it except for the stereotype threat

3) but it's hard to pin down exactly how much of the law school performance gap the proponents of the stereotype threat believe it can account for

therefore

4) I'm going to go ahead and rely on a legal writing class grade distribution at my UCLA to assert - even though the sample size is too small - that it is not stereotype threat or anything other than black law students are simply not up to par with their peers at a particular law school.


I am not impressed by that kind of reasoning. It does nothing to address the issue of stereotype threat. By his own admission, he sidesteps it.

Here's an alternative explanation for the score gap which is actually wider in LGPA than it is in the LSAT:

1. Stereotype threat gets worse in law school because law school exams are scarier than the LSAT

2. The existence of an AA program itself, ironically, causes increased stereotyping and increased susceptibility to the stereotype threat


Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: H4CS on June 09, 2006, 07:33:28 PM
Here's an alternative explanation for the score gap which is actually wider in LGPA than it is in the LSAT:

1. Stereotype threat gets worse in law school because law school exams are scarier than the LSAT

2. The existence of an AA program itself, ironically, causes increased stereotyping and increased susceptibility to the stereotype threat

See, this is one reason why I'm nervous about resting the whole premise on stereotype threat.  The same factors that give way to stereotype threat will give way to other mechanisms throughout law school and we can measure those too.  Stereotype threat is merely one of many reasons to explain this gap and it's entirely valid.  Only a look at the whole picture can explain the institutions that give way to these discrepencies.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 09, 2006, 07:40:23 PM
What is an alternative way of framing the issue?

EDIT: from what I've understood of your position,

1. stereotype thread facing URM applicants is one (important?) way in which systematic societal & institutional racism is transmitted into the applications process.

2. rather than address stereotype threat as an independent entity and rather than remedy for that, it would be better to remedy for the underlying racism.

3. consequently, we should pursue AA as a matter of social justice and fundamental fairness.

My view is that we have at least an overlapping consensus on these points?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Lurking Third Year on June 09, 2006, 07:50:40 PM
But, according to Sanders' study, the LSAT does accurately reflect african americans' performance in law school.  If the LSAT was not accurately reflecting african american applicants' potential to do well in law school, wouldn't we expect african americans to perform, as a group, at a higher level than their scores would indicate? 

Okay, a fair question that deserves a full answer. I'm a bit tipsy at the moment, and I'll attempt to do some justice to the answer tomorrow morning.

Hey red., did you ever get around to thinking about this?  Sorry if you responded and I missed it.

I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but if, due to stereo type threat, the LSAT was understating URMs ability on the LSAT, we would expect the achievement gap to close in law school, but that is simply not the case.  Thus, the implication, and this was spelled out by Sanders, is that the LSAT is effectively measuring URMs ability to perform in law school.

Hey, yeah. Here's the thing, I actually went back to read Sanders' study just to make sure that I hadn't skipped over something important when I read it for the first time a while back.

This is what he does, in terms of the r/ship between what he calls "admissions credentials" (i.e. the index score) and law school performance:

1) black kids do worse on the index score and they do worse in law school

2) I don't see what else could explain it except for the stereotype threat

3) but it's hard to pin down exactly how much of the law school performance gap the proponents of the stereotype threat believe it can account for

therefore

4) I'm going to go ahead and rely on a legal writing class grade distribution at my UCLA to assert - even though the sample size is too small - that it is not stereotype threat or anything other than black law students are simply not up to par with their peers at a particular law school.


I am not impressed by that kind of reasoning. It does nothing to address the issue of stereotype threat. By his own admission, he sidesteps it.

Here's an alternative explanation for the score gap which is actually wider in LGPA than it is in the LSAT:

1. Stereotype threat gets worse in law school because law school exams are scarier than the LSAT

2. The existence of an AA program itself, ironically, causes increased stereotyping and increased susceptibility to the stereotype threat




Hey red.

A fair response.  But, I can't help but think, whether due to stereotype threat in law school or some other reason, the LSAT still does seem to accurately reflect URMs ability to perform in law school.  This is all the LSAT is supposed to do, and it seems to be working.  If your argument is that schools should look beyond factors that bear only on performance in law school, and particularly in the first year of law school, I'd agree.  But this kind of holistic review should be across the board, not just for URMs.

I also think your explanation for the achievement gap is plausible, but I think the simpler explanation -- that the LSAT is predicting what it has been designed to predict and has been proven to predict in other groups -- is the more likely explanation. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 09, 2006, 08:07:07 PM
Hey red.

A fair response.  But, I can't help but think, whether due to stereotype threat in law school or some other reason, the LSAT still does seem to accurately reflect URMs ability to perform in law school.  This is all the LSAT is supposed to do, and it seems to be working.  If your argument is that schools should look beyond factors that bear only on performance in law school, and particularly in the first year of law school, I'd agree.  But this kind of holistic review should be across the board, not just for URMs.

I also think your explanation for the achievement gap is plausible, but I think the simpler explanation -- that the LSAT is predicting what it has been designed to predict and has been proven to predict in other groups -- is the more likely explanation. 

Well, I think where I would disagree is that I don't believe that the LSAT measures ability as effectively as it measures performance in the presence or absense of heightened stereotype threat.

This may seem like a minor quibble, but I don't think it is.

For one thing it very strongly suggests that performance varies greatly according to the manner in which the test is set up, and the ways in which URMs and other students are primed in terms of their expectations and experience of the LSAT and of law school itself.

Looking back at the 21st Century Program for undergraduates at the University of Michigan, for example, the black-white GPA score was eliminated (not just narrowed) when black and white students alike were - essentially - treated as high achievers, exposed to seminars, mentored by professors, etc.

There are other pilot programs like this at some twenty UG iinstitutions , and a review of them has been published by The College Board.

My suggestion is that law schools should re-examine the ways in which they may better acclimate all students to the law school experience by replicating the relevant parts of these prior successful experiments.

As far as admissions is concerned, I believe - with you - in a holistic process.

My argument for AA is conditional on all else remaining the same - as a remedy for a badly broken system that particularly disadvatages URMS. In that circumstance, where nothing else changes, I think that a lack of an affirmative action program would be grossly unfair and unjust.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: plaintext on June 09, 2006, 08:24:27 PM
Here's an alternative explanation for the score gap which is actually wider in LGPA than it is in the LSAT:

1. Stereotype threat gets worse in law school because law school exams are scarier than the LSAT

2. The existence of an AA program itself, ironically, causes increased stereotyping and increased susceptibility to the stereotype threat

See, this is one reason why I'm nervous about resting the whole premise on stereotype threat.  The same factors that give way to stereotype threat will give way to other mechanisms throughout law school and we can measure those too.  Stereotype threat is merely one of many reasons to explain this gap and it's entirely valid.  Only a look at the whole picture can explain the institutions that give way to these discrepencies.

i'd agree that it's one of many factors that only in aggregate can provide a full account.  There's still some open issues w/ the primed threat tests in the cited study.  one obvious question is how long the primed-threat exists, and the distribution of errors/performance gap.  another is the similarity it bears with the frenetic pace of the LSAT which forces one to focus rather quickly and diminish the idle mind chatter.  another is the representativeness of the test subjects.  the common joke is psychology is the extrapolation of the broke college student behavior on the rest of the population.  Studies across different age groups would be most helpful in this study as one might be able to see the primed threat less significant in younger test takers and more significant in the older subjects who have had sufficient time to assimilate the negative stereotypes.  the conditional nature of these results is the presence of the prime.  if it is removed, so is the threat.  To that degree, one wouldn't want to base a significant part of an argument on the prime-threat effect.

But I think overall the preferred answer is to address the admissions system that holds themselves out as the entry gate to institutions of rational discourse and social justice, and do something to make them less beholden to the numbers ranking game in a $5 US News magazine.  Honestly, the absurdity is beyond me.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SapientiaEstPotentia on June 09, 2006, 09:26:33 PM
I find the “statistical” counter argument to AA interesting, yet flawed. It holds that society should not take a statistical approach when comparing numbers of minorities in higher education and high end jobs.  For to do so overlooks individual cases at the cost of some abstract aggregate. However, did not the enlightened learn from the great American minds, primarily form the 19th century Metaphysical Club, and its social derivatives, when dealing with the concepts of proximate and actual causation, that in the final analysis we are dealing with a policy paradigm and not some objective method for determining causal chains and determining all variables giving rise to distinct events in the cosmos. Similarly, AA is a policy paradigm, the best experiment to correct past injustice. Using a statistical argument to counter AA, which is the best non-AA adherents can muster in heated debates--and rarely--is take us back to the type of thinking the great pragmatists (those congregating in the Metaphysical Club and its followers) worked to dispel.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Steak Pita on June 09, 2006, 09:56:29 PM
I've seen very little on this thread concerning how URMs are "primed" before taking the LSAT. Are test proctors informing them beforehand that it's a test to prove intelligence differences between the races? I doubt it.

So how are they primed to think about their race before the test? Three explanations have been given: 1) They walk into a test and see that the room is 90% white; 2) They have to self-identify before the test; and, 3)The wording at the beginning about cheating, etc.

Numbers one and three are silly. In many places in the US whites are 90%, or more, of the population. I don't see how walking off a street that is 90% white and into a classroom that is the same is going to suddenly remind URMs of their race.

As far as the pledge concerning cheating goes, this would most likely have an effect on dishonest people, regardless of race.

Having to self-identify before the test is a slightly better argument, but I'm not convinced that this works solely to the disadvantage of URMs. After all, whites have to self-identify, too. Is it possible they experience a sort of reverse stereotype threat? After all, they're supposed to be smarter, right? Maybe they don't want to let down their race by underperforming, thus they take longer to answer questions on a time sensitive test.

Now, I understand the counterargument to this will be that whites don't often even think about their race. Oh really? I'm sure they especially think about when they have to identify themselves as white just before they take a test to try to get into schools that practice affirmative action. Many whites may be under equal or more intense pressure to do well simply because they know they need to in order to get into schools at which they might otherwise have been accepted had it not been for affirmative action.

I see only one other explanation of how URMs are primed: by the culture in general -- they're already primed before they get there. Indeed, they're always primed. This is essentially the answer people here seem to be coming to. It would certainly explain poorer performance on the SAT, in high school, in college, in graduate school, and in the world in general.

But this argument doesn't hold any water either. If this were so, how does one explain the performance of URMs in the control groups of the stereotype threat tests who were not told anything about race before the test?

My best guess is that there are significant cultural factors (other than stereotype threat) that explain this phenomenon much better. What about the astronomical rates of illegitimacy among blacks in the US? I'd like to see someone tell me with a straight face that this doesn't play a role in academic achievment.

Now, I understand that none of this is actually an argument against affirmative action. One could say that it doesn't matter why URMs score lower or perform more poorly academically; law schools should still try to be fair. I think this comes down to a debate over the purpose of admissions councils, which is largely a matter of opinion. Mine is that it is not the job of admissions councils to ensure perfect fairness for all applicants. It is their job to fill the school with students who stand the greatest chance of hacking it. They shouldn't even care about the racial make-up. If the LSAT is the best way they know how to do this, so be it.

(As you could probably guess, I don't buy the diversity argument. Students will do the best when they are around the best and brightest, whatever the racial demographics.)

Finally, law schools admit individuals, not groups. Even if you could prove that stereotype threat has the most effect on those URMs who are the highest achievers, how could you know which ones they were? For example, if a URM applies who "should have" scored a 165 (but due to stereotype threat scored a 159), how do you tell him apart from the URM who was not as high an achiever and got an "accurate" 159.

You don't. You also don't tell them apart from the white kid who got a 164 (and, as pointed out earlier, may also have been effected by stereotype threat). If we're so interested in fairness shouldn't it apply both ways?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SapientiaEstPotentia on June 09, 2006, 10:06:05 PM
I've seen very little on this thread concerning how URMs are "primed" before taking the LSAT. Are test proctors informing them beforehand that it's a test to prove intelligence differences between the races? I doubt it.

So how are they primed to think about their race before the test? Three explanations have been given: 1) They walk into a test and see that the room is 90% white; 2) They have to self-identify before the test; and, 3)The wording at the beginning about cheating, etc.

Numbers one and three are silly. In many places in the US whites are 90%, or more, of the population. I don't see how walking off a street that is 90% white and into a classroom that is the same is going to suddenly remind URMs of their race.

As far as the pledge concerning cheating goes, this would most likely have an effect on dishonest people, regardless of race.

Having to self-identify before the test is a slightly better argument, but I'm not convinced that this works solely to the disadvantage of URMs. After all, whites have to self-identify, too. Is it possible they experience a sort of reverse stereotype threat? After all, they're supposed to be smarter, right? Maybe they don't want to let down their race by underperforming, thus they take longer to answer questions on a time sensitive test.

Now, I understand the counterargument to this will be that whites don't often even think about their race. Oh really? I'm sure they especially think about when they have to identify themselves as white just before they take a test to try to get into schools that practice affirmative action. Many whites may be under equal or more intense pressure to do well simply because they know they need to in order to get into schools at which they might otherwise have been accepted had it not been for affirmative action.

I see only one other explanation of how URMs are primed: by the culture in general -- they're already primed before they get there. Indeed, they're always primed. This is essentially the answer people here seem to be coming to. It would certainly explain poorer performance on the SAT, in high school, in college, in graduate school, and in the world in general.

But this argument doesn't hold any water either. If this were so, how does one explain the performance of URMs in the control groups of the stereotype threat tests who were not told anything about race before the test?

My best guess is that there are significant cultural factors (other than stereotype threat) that explain this phenomenon much better. What about the astronomical rates of illegitimacy among blacks in the US? I'd like to see someone tell me with a straight face that this doesn't play a role in academic achievment.

Now, I understand that none of this is actually an argument against affirmative action. One could say that it doesn't matter why URMs score lower or perform more poorly academically; law schools should still try to be fair. I think this comes down to a debate over the purpose of admissions councils, which is largely a matter of opinion. Mine is that it is not the job of admissions councils to ensure perfect fairness for all applicants. It is their job to fill the school with students who stand the greatest chance of hacking it. They shouldn't even care about the racial make-up. If the LSAT is the best way they know how to do this, so be it.

(As you could probably guess, I don't buy the diversity argument. Students will do the best when they are around the best and brightest, whatever the racial demographics.)

Finally, law schools admit individuals, not groups. Even if you could prove that stereotype threat has the most effect on those URMs who are the highest achievers, how could you know which ones they were? For example, if a URM applies who "should have" scored a 165 (but due to stereotype threat scored a 159), how do you tell him apart from the URM who was not as high an achiever and got an "accurate" 159.

You don't. You also don't tell them apart from the white kid who got a 164 (and, as pointed out earlier, may also have been effected by stereotype threat). If we're so interested in fairness shouldn't it apply both ways?

Interesting, but it’s premised on a subjective phenomenon resisting objectification.   
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SapientiaEstPotentia on June 09, 2006, 10:19:31 PM
I've seen very little on this thread concerning how URMs are "primed" before taking the LSAT. Are test proctors informing them beforehand that it's a test to prove intelligence differences between the races? I doubt it.

So how are they primed to think about their race before the test? Three explanations have been given: 1) They walk into a test and see that the room is 90% white; 2) They have to self-identify before the test; and, 3)The wording at the beginning about cheating, etc.

Numbers one and three are silly. In many places in the US whites are 90%, or more, of the population. I don't see how walking off a street that is 90% white and into a classroom that is the same is going to suddenly remind URMs of their race.

As far as the pledge concerning cheating goes, this would most likely have an effect on dishonest people, regardless of race.

Having to self-identify before the test is a slightly better argument, but I'm not convinced that this works solely to the disadvantage of URMs. After all, whites have to self-identify, too. Is it possible they experience a sort of reverse stereotype threat? After all, they're supposed to be smarter, right? Maybe they don't want to let down their race by underperforming, thus they take longer to answer questions on a time sensitive test.

Now, I understand the counterargument to this will be that whites don't often even think about their race. Oh really? I'm sure they especially think about when they have to identify themselves as white just before they take a test to try to get into schools that practice affirmative action. Many whites may be under equal or more intense pressure to do well simply because they know they need to in order to get into schools at which they might otherwise have been accepted had it not been for affirmative action.

I see only one other explanation of how URMs are primed: by the culture in general -- they're already primed before they get there. Indeed, they're always primed. This is essentially the answer people here seem to be coming to. It would certainly explain poorer performance on the SAT, in high school, in college, in graduate school, and in the world in general.

But this argument doesn't hold any water either. If this were so, how does one explain the performance of URMs in the control groups of the stereotype threat tests who were not told anything about race before the test?

My best guess is that there are significant cultural factors (other than stereotype threat) that explain this phenomenon much better. What about the astronomical rates of illegitimacy among blacks in the US? I'd like to see someone tell me with a straight face that this doesn't play a role in academic achievment.

Now, I understand that none of this is actually an argument against affirmative action. One could say that it doesn't matter why URMs score lower or perform more poorly academically; law schools should still try to be fair. I think this comes down to a debate over the purpose of admissions councils, which is largely a matter of opinion. Mine is that it is not the job of admissions councils to ensure perfect fairness for all applicants. It is their job to fill the school with students who stand the greatest chance of hacking it. They shouldn't even care about the racial make-up. If the LSAT is the best way they know how to do this, so be it.

(As you could probably guess, I don't buy the diversity argument. Students will do the best when they are around the best and brightest, whatever the racial demographics.)

Finally, law schools admit individuals, not groups. Even if you could prove that stereotype threat has the most effect on those URMs who are the highest achievers, how could you know which ones they were? For example, if a URM applies who "should have" scored a 165 (but due to stereotype threat scored a 159), how do you tell him apart from the URM who was not as high an achiever and got an "accurate" 159.

You don't. You also don't tell them apart from the white kid who got a 164 (and, as pointed out earlier, may also have been effected by stereotype threat). If we're so interested in fairness shouldn't it apply both ways?

Interesting, but it’s premised on a subjective phenomenon resisting objectification.   

Allow me to explain. Humans tend to be conscious creators, exempting exceptions for the sake of simplicity. But, I opine and postulate, that there are unconscious variables, for lack of a better rhetoric, that influence or affect the content of consciousness, in particular, deep seated memory, moods, experiences, that don’t truly “lend themselves” in clinical experimentation yet make significant impact to affect a subjects performance. At best, you arrive at statistical correlations.  Just like humans aren’t particles in some Brownian-motion experiment, subconscious variables aren’t either, though researchers do attempt to treat the latter as such, providing a false hope for those taking your line of argument.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on June 10, 2006, 05:23:26 AM
Because I am traveling, and because I'd ike to keep this thread more or less in shape, I'm going to lock it until I can get to an internet conection again.

I have created a companion thread where y'all can still post in reaction to what you've read here. If you want.

http://www.lawschooldiscussion.org/prelaw/index.php/topic,64721.new.html#new
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 03, 2006, 07:17:49 AM
I shall address some of the points raised here and in the companion thread at some time in the next day or so.

Additional (thoughtful) comments and questions are welcome.

Statements such as philibusters' - "As a political science major, I don't believe in social science" - are delightful and amusing, but unanswerable.

Cheers.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 04, 2006, 02:29:10 AM
BAFF for red's return.

MANO A MANO, RED.  MANO A MANO.




Ah hell.  You know I agree with you.  But still BAFFing.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 04, 2006, 03:53:10 PM
You mean without her here to be right while you're still wrong?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 04, 2006, 06:38:38 PM
I will take that as ad admission.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: thorc954 on July 05, 2006, 04:31:11 PM
Okay, Im going to play devil's advocate for a second. The OP stated that blacks on average score 6 points lower on their lsats then whites do. He also mentioned a stanford study where the way a question was stated could perpetuate or eliminate inferiority.  Now, I believe the LSAT is both a test designed to test our deciation to our studies and our capabilities of logical thinking. Now, I know stress came into play with my score and as a resul, the test appropriately rated my abilities to perform under pressure.  Now, it can be suggested from purpose of the test that the average black man who scores 6 points lower then the average white man isnt capable of performing under this pressure and the resulting score is truely a measure of his ability. Now, this isnt to say that the black canidate is somehow inferior to the white canidate. However, if the person is some how internalizing the racist idealogy of the dominant group is that canidate as intellectually prepared for a career in the legal profession? That is not to say that the internalized white superiority present in many makes them any better suited to be lawyers.  Anyway, my point is that the gaps in scores may point to some flaw in the canidates ability to perform adequately.

Now, I know the comments will be that these are racist remarks, so let me clarify my intentions of this post before this begins.  First, all white men are racists, because racism is having power over another.  White privelege makes us racists because we unjustly recieve superior treatment. Anyway, thats something I got from my Soc. background.

Also, I believe that AA can be justified to help bridge this gap. Unfortunately, way to often, AA is misconstrued into reverse descrimination. It can not possibly be argued that every numerical indicator is unfair. So, why then are URMs sneaking into harvard with 3.0 gpas and low lsat scores.  In John Galts case (im a fan of  yours, lol, or a groupie of some sort), he got into great schools. His lsat was slightly below average but a steller gpa. As a white male, i got into great schools with a slightly lower lsat and great gpa.  Anyway, i think that instead of AA, the whole admissions process should be visited.  No attempt should  be made to "compensate" for the precieved inferiority that blacks face during testing. The test should be reworked so that this isnt even a factory. We should be judged based on the quality of our application package instead of just our skin color. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 05, 2006, 05:29:48 PM
First, all white men are racists, because racism is having power over another.  White privelege makes us racists because we unjustly recieve superior treatment. Anyway, thats something I got from my Soc. background.


I have always had, and will continue to have, major issues with this extremely narrow, ironically discriminatory definition of racism. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: thorc954 on July 05, 2006, 08:45:39 PM
Ehh, I like my definition. I got an A in the class that taught me that. Using that definition is easier then trying to defend non-racist beliefs though.

anyway, good lucks guys in the last few weeks of apartment searches and decisions.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: thorc954 on July 05, 2006, 09:02:24 PM
haha, ill take it either way.  :P
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 05, 2006, 09:19:01 PM
Ehh, I like my definition. I got an A in the class that taught me that. Using that definition is easier then trying to defend non-racist beliefs though.

anyway, good lucks guys in the last few weeks of apartment searches and decisions.


Explain why you like it and why it's useful, then.


Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 05, 2006, 11:02:48 PM
I do believe that racism is about power.  I do not, however, agree that everyone is racist.  This kind of relativism doesn't permit us to make meaningful distinctions among different forms of race-consciousness or to separate ignorance, passivity, and/or petty bigotries from outright racial hatred.  It's worthwhile to take things systemically; it's not useful to say that we are all so caught up in the system that we don't have agency or the responsibility to be consciously anti-racist.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: obamacon on July 05, 2006, 11:18:16 PM
I do believe that racism is about power.  I do not, however, agree that everyone is racist.  This kind of relativism doesn't permit us to make meaningful distinctions among different forms of race-consciousness or to separate ignorance, passivity, and/or petty bigotries from outright racial hatred.  It's worthwhile to take things systemically; it's not useful to say that we are all so caught up in the system that we don't have agency or the responsibility to be consciously anti-racist.

Please directly connect racism, the belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others, with power, the ability or official capacity to exercise control; authority.

I'd grant that powerful people can be racists, but not without saying that weak people can be as well. It really has nothing to do with power.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: John Galt on July 05, 2006, 11:20:41 PM
I do believe that racism is about power.  I do not, however, agree that everyone is racist.  This kind of relativism doesn't permit us to make meaningful distinctions among different forms of race-consciousness or to separate ignorance, passivity, and/or petty bigotries from outright racial hatred.  It's worthwhile to take things systemically; it's not useful to say that we are all so caught up in the system that we don't have agency or the responsibility to be consciously anti-racist.

Please directly connect racism, the belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others, with power, the ability or official capacity to exercise control; authority.

I'd grant that powerful people can be racists, but not without saying that weak people can be as well. It really has nothing to do with power.


its an ism. You can't have an ism without the element of power. Without power, its just prejudice.


There is a difference between having a racist belief and engaging in racism as well.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 06, 2006, 01:07:06 AM
I do believe that racism is about power.  I do not, however, agree that everyone is racist.  This kind of relativism doesn't permit us to make meaningful distinctions among different forms of race-consciousness or to separate ignorance, passivity, and/or petty bigotries from outright racial hatred.  It's worthwhile to take things systemically; it's not useful to say that we are all so caught up in the system that we don't have agency or the responsibility to be consciously anti-racist.

Not to mention the fact that it entirely presupposes a meaningless philosophical definition of racism.  The definition mentioned is shallow, at best, and blatantly discriminatory, at worst.
 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: obamacon on July 06, 2006, 06:38:03 AM
I do believe that racism is about power.  I do not, however, agree that everyone is racist.  This kind of relativism doesn't permit us to make meaningful distinctions among different forms of race-consciousness or to separate ignorance, passivity, and/or petty bigotries from outright racial hatred.  It's worthwhile to take things systemically; it's not useful to say that we are all so caught up in the system that we don't have agency or the responsibility to be consciously anti-racist.

Please directly connect racism, the belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others, with power, the ability or official capacity to exercise control; authority.

I'd grant that powerful people can be racists, but not without saying that weak people can be as well. It really has nothing to do with power.


its an ism. You can't have an ism without the element of power. Without power, its just prejudice.


There is a difference between having a racist belief and engaging in racism as well.

I'm going to have to completely disagree, but this is the reasoning some in the U.S. use to excuse racism by everyone but whites.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: John Galt on July 06, 2006, 07:30:11 AM
I do believe that racism is about power.  I do not, however, agree that everyone is racist.  This kind of relativism doesn't permit us to make meaningful distinctions among different forms of race-consciousness or to separate ignorance, passivity, and/or petty bigotries from outright racial hatred.  It's worthwhile to take things systemically; it's not useful to say that we are all so caught up in the system that we don't have agency or the responsibility to be consciously anti-racist.

Please directly connect racism, the belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others, with power, the ability or official capacity to exercise control; authority.

I'd grant that powerful people can be racists, but not without saying that weak people can be as well. It really has nothing to do with power.


its an ism. You can't have an ism without the element of power. Without power, its just prejudice.


There is a difference between having a racist belief and engaging in racism as well.

I'm going to have to completely disagree, but this is the reasoning some in the U.S. use to excuse racism by everyone but whites.

Well you can completely disagree, but even if you do disagree you'd have to admit that even from your own analysis the racism by whites is the most harmful because of the power element. Additionally, the very definition that you proposed indicated racism was about a belief of racial superiority - what other than power can legitimize superiority?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 06, 2006, 09:13:04 AM
I do believe that racism is about power.  I do not, however, agree that everyone is racist.  This kind of relativism doesn't permit us to make meaningful distinctions among different forms of race-consciousness or to separate ignorance, passivity, and/or petty bigotries from outright racial hatred.  It's worthwhile to take things systemically; it's not useful to say that we are all so caught up in the system that we don't have agency or the responsibility to be consciously anti-racist.

Please directly connect racism, the belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others, with power, the ability or official capacity to exercise control; authority.

I'd grant that powerful people can be racists, but not without saying that weak people can be as well. It really has nothing to do with power.

I believe that it is most helpful to think about racism in terms of material effects and not in terms of values and beliefs that people hold.  My prejudice against gays (err, this is hypothetical, okay?), for instance, may be odious and wrong, but I wouldn't call it heterosexism or homophobia until it has some palpable, external form.  Thus, I think that the belief in racial superiority is disgusting, but it is when it is effectuated in order to hold one race beneath another that it becomes "racism."  It is nearly impossible for certain groups to be racist against certain other groups outside of very limited situations because they do not have the power to make their bigoted beliefs (which may be abhorrent) realized outside of their diseased minds.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: obamacon on July 06, 2006, 04:04:06 PM
I believe that it is most helpful to think about racism in terms of material effects and not in terms of values and beliefs that people hold.  My prejudice against gays (err, this is hypothetical, okay?), for instance, may be odious and wrong, but I wouldn't call it heterosexism or homophobia until it has some palpable, external form.  Thus, I think that the belief in racial superiority is disgusting, but it is when it is effectuated in order to hold one race beneath another that it becomes "racism."  It is nearly impossible for certain groups to be racist against certain other groups outside of very limited situations because they do not have the power to make their bigoted beliefs (which may be abhorrent) realized outside of their diseased minds.

That only works if you redefine your terms. You can call that racism if you want to and that’s the way our language is starting to shift, but the original meaning of the term, and the one I find most honest is belief based. We have other ways of conveying what you just said in English, you don’t need to redefine racism as a requiring a component of power.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 06, 2006, 04:37:48 PM
That only works if you redefine your terms. You can call that racism if you want to and that’s the way our language is starting to shift, but the original meaning of the term, and the one I find most honest is belief based. We have other ways of conveying what you just said in English, you don’t need to redefine racism as a requiring a component of power.


You speak of language as if it's some mythical edifice that we can just chip chunks out of and say, "Hey, look, this is exactly what X and Y mean!"

It doesn't work that way.  First, there is no "original meaning" of a term.  Second, even if there is, then where the hell are you drawing it from, and what is it?

Thank you for providing this information.  Welcome to the 21st century.  I know you hate those post-structuralists, but dammit, they were right!
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: thorc954 on July 06, 2006, 10:36:31 PM


That only works if you redefine your terms. You can call that racism if you want to and that’s the way our language is starting to shift, but the original meaning of the term, and the one I find most honest is belief based. We have other ways of conveying what you just said in English, you don’t need to redefine racism as a requiring a component of power.
[/quote]


Ive finally gotten to my computer to respond. Sorry about the delay. Anyway, what seperates racism from prejudice is power. Racism is acting on prejudices. My definition of racism and that all whites are racist is complicated.  I believe that everyone has prejudices. It is simply a matter of life.  Blacks stereotype whites, whites stereotype blacks, it happens.  I know I roll my eyes when I see gothic kids on the streets. It is simply a fact of life. Not something I endorse, but something that happens.  Anyway, these are simply prejudices. What makes it racism is when the prejudice have a causal relationship and one side benefits at the degredation of the other.  Now, institutional "racism" systematical discriminates against blacks and provides whites with "white privelege." Anyway, this means that although everyone is has prejudice beliefs, the whites are benefiting from this discrimination. Therefore, whites are racist.  You may not notice the discrimination, but even among blue collar and working poor jobs, whites are given presidence over blacks.  Anyway, this is my definition. We all have our prejudices, but whites recieve the advantages in the system of oppression.  Does this justify AA? Im not entirely sure that it does as I dont see a reason at the graduate level that a minority would not have recieved an adequate enough education that if fully taken advantage of could place them on an even playing field.  Anyway, my point was simply that if the brains of the URMs quoted by red prevented them from achieving equal levels of success on standardized test because of a self profilling prophecy, then they may not be prepared for law school.  Confidence plays a big role in success.

Anyway, I was a math major so ignore the poor usage of grammar and the frequent misspellings and judge my opinions soley on content.  Spell check will catch this on my law school papers as it has in the past.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 07, 2006, 12:46:36 AM
I can ignore some things, but poor logic is more difficult to look beyond.

By your terms, all Germans are Nazis.  It's ridiculous.

I see where you're going with it, but you make an unjustified leap when you go from the fact that prejudice put in practice by those in power is racism (reasonable, and, dare I say, sounds correct) to making an entire demographic not only ethically culpable of a systemic practice beyond their control by extension (sort of reasonable, if you're following Jaspers's line of thinking), but rather directly responsible for such a practice, each and every individual (entirely unreasonable).

It's ironic, because it's the same sort of generalized demarcation that sparks racism in the first place.  It labels the individual without regards to who and what she actually is.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: thorc954 on July 07, 2006, 07:30:36 AM
My comments never suggested that all Germans were nazis... Obviously, Jews, Gays, Catholics, the disabled, and the other groups persecuted during WWII would not fall under the group Nazi. However, those not being persecuted during the war would be considered racists. I know it is a hard concept to grasp, but that doesnt necessarily make it poor logic. Oh, and I am part German and have a german grandmother. Our family left before WWII, I swear that evil woman is a Nazi.

The fact is that if you benefit from a system of racisms then you are by default a racist.  I swear Ill break out some soc. books and get more indepth after work tonight...
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: jer on July 07, 2006, 07:37:37 AM
The fact is that if you benefit from a system of racisms then you are by default a racist.  I swear Ill break out some soc. books and get more indepth after work tonight...

isn't AA a product of a 'system of racisms'?
and who benefits from it?
which, by your definition makes them racist.

/head asplode

//the logic in this thread has gone downhill since page 8

///fun while it lasted
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: BPM on July 07, 2006, 08:48:04 AM
that seems overly complicated.  prejudice is to prejudge.  racism is simply prejudice based on race.  Power comes into play when one is looking at the damages of prejudice or racism, however it isn't an essential element, but is more applicable to institutional inequity, which isn't synonymous with racism.  Is a black lender who denies a mortgage to a black applicant a racist?  Probalby no more than the white lender, when considering intent.  At an aggregate level however, the effect certainly perpetuates inequities, but individuals acting in a racist or prejudicial manner aren't an essential element.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: John Galt on July 07, 2006, 09:26:50 AM
that seems overly complicated.  prejudice is to prejudge.  racism is simply prejudice based on race.  Power comes into play when one is looking at the damages of prejudice or racism, however it isn't an essential element, but is more applicable to institutional inequity, which isn't synonymous with racism.  Is a black lender who denies a mortgage to a black applicant a racist?  Probalby no more than the white lender, when considering intent.  At an aggregate level however, the effect certainly perpetuates inequities, but individuals acting in a racist or prejudicial manner aren't an essential element.



No, the power element needs to be there. I can make a bunch of racial slurs against white folks and I would rightfully be considered a racist. I would not be engaged in racism because I have not done anything to adversely affect the white person  or caucasians as a group because of their race.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: BPM on July 07, 2006, 09:40:35 AM
that seems overly complicated.  prejudice is to prejudge.  racism is simply prejudice based on race.  Power comes into play when one is looking at the damages of prejudice or racism, however it isn't an essential element, but is more applicable to institutional inequity, which isn't synonymous with racism.  Is a black lender who denies a mortgage to a black applicant a racist?  Probalby no more than the white lender, when considering intent.  At an aggregate level however, the effect certainly perpetuates inequities, but individuals acting in a racist or prejudicial manner aren't an essential element.



No, the power element needs to be there. I can make a bunch of racial slurs against white folks and I would rightfully be considered a racist. I would not be engaged in racism because I have not done anything to adversely affect the white person  or caucasians as a group because of their race.


hmm... that was the distinction I was making.  Power is an essential element of inequity, but not racism.  Obviously the combination of both power and racism is more damning.  I'd agree with your statement per institutional racism, but not for indivdiual racism.  the question is the degree that individual racism leads to institutional racism, or if the two should be treated as separate categories with their own causes/effects. 

I tend to take the latter view in that it's difficult to label someone a racist when there is no intent, but it's easy to discern institutional racism despite lacking intent/cause and focuse on the effect.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 07, 2006, 12:15:53 PM
My comments never suggested that all Germans were nazis... Obviously, Jews, Gays, Catholics, the disabled, and the other groups persecuted during WWII would not fall under the group Nazi. However, those not being persecuted during the war would be considered racists. I know it is a hard concept to grasp, but that doesnt necessarily make it poor logic. Oh, and I am part German and have a german grandmother. Our family left before WWII, I swear that evil woman is a Nazi.

The fact is that if you benefit from a system of racisms then you are by default a racist.  I swear Ill break out some soc. books and get more indepth after work tonight...


I don't put credit in sociology.  It often does, as a field of study, exactly what you're doing here.

I'm telling you, the error in your reasoning is that you make the illogical leap from making beneficiaries of racism all racists.  You don't provide a definition of racism that allows you to do this.  You don't explain the philosophical underpinnings of your drastic leap thoroughly enough.

Like I said, if you're talking about collective guilt along the lines of Jaspers's thinking, I'd probably still let this slide.  Jaspers argued that the passivity of Germans in general made them all, in some form, culpable of Nazism.  However, that did not make them all Nazis.  The difference here is between a passive and an active attribution.

Calling all white people racist means you're ascribing an active contribution to the practice to them.  I'm okay with reasoning that claims that all white people are involved in upholding the foundation of racism (whether actively or passively; this also explains their collective guilt); I'm not okay with reasoning that claims all white people are racists.

It's simply not true.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: thorc954 on July 07, 2006, 07:46:19 PM


I don't put credit in sociology.  It often does, as a field of study, exactly what you're doing here.


Calling all white people racist means you're ascribing an active contribution to the practice to them.  I'm okay with reasoning that claims that all white people are involved in upholding the foundation of racism (whether actively or passively; this also explains their collective guilt); I'm not okay with reasoning that claims all white people are racists.

It's simply not true.

[/quote]

well, as for the first comment, im not much of a fan of sociology either, which is why I studied math as well. I feel it often attributes individual problems to the collective whole.  However, your last comment proves my point about racism.  You agree that all white people are involved in upholding the foundation of racism.  Now, by upholding this foundation, they are allowing it to continue and thus reaping the benefits of institutional racism. Once they gain unequal access to the benefits of the system they uphold, they become racists.  We all allow the system of inequality to continue.  The difference is that white people are more often then not in the position of power. We benefit from the system and set its rules. Therefore, we are the racists.  WE have the power to change things yet we dont.  Therefore, I believe this suggests that we openly allow discrimination. However, if a black person openly hates a white man, beyond simply committing a hate crime, he has little recourse in our society.  That was my point. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 07, 2006, 07:51:18 PM

Like I said, if you're talking about collective guilt along the lines of Jaspers's thinking, I'd probably still let this slide.  Jaspers argued that the passivity of Germans in general made them all, in some form, culpable of Nazism.  However, that did not make them all Nazis.  The difference here is between a passive and an active attribution.

Calling all white people racist means you're ascribing an active contribution to the practice to them.  I'm okay with reasoning that claims that all white people are involved in upholding the foundation of racism (whether actively or passively; this also explains their collective guilt); I'm not okay with reasoning that claims all white people are racists.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: thorc954 on July 07, 2006, 08:05:59 PM
LurkingJ, you are hardcore with this LSD thing, you responded like five seconds later.  Anyway, I think we should squash this discussion about the definition of racism. I see your point but still like my definition better.  Anyway, the real topic of this conversation is that AA is justified, and my point was simply that at the law school level it is not.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 07, 2006, 08:16:51 PM
How can you see my point and still decide to keep your definition as is?  My point addresses specific incongruencies in your argument that make it untenable. 

And nah, it was just coincidence.  I just happened to log in right after you posted.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 07, 2006, 08:18:08 PM
In any case, I should make it clear that the definition of "racism" and its roots in power relationships are fundamental to any proper conversation about AA.  Here, I think, we agree.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: thorc954 on July 07, 2006, 08:43:00 PM
My point is simply that I can understand your arguments, however, my definition contributes inactivity to activity. Contentmenent with current situation to racism. The power relationship is indeed key to any proper conversation about racism.  IDK, anyway, I am running out of things to say on this issue, and I feel like I made some decent points about both AA and the definition of racism. Either way, racism is merely a word and words have such little actual meaning now a days... Concepts are everything. Our society is messed up. That is the way it is. We are all prejudice, and depending on whether you agree or disagree all whites are racist. Either way, the world goes on.  The point is that AA is unjustified in the law school situation, will you atleast agree with that point?

oh, and I dont believe you that it was a coincidence, lol.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 07, 2006, 08:59:15 PM
Dude, why the @#!* would I lie about it being a coincidence?


In any case, my problem with your definition is that it doesn't sufficiently explain why one is allowed to attribute an active involvement to those who are passively involved.  And if you are doing so, then you are, as I claimed earlier, making an argument that would make all non-persecuted Germans Nazis.

If racism is prejudice brought to power, then for your definition to work first you have to establish that all whites are prejudiced -- not just prejudiced in general, but prejudiced specifically in terms of race. 

This, whether you like it or not, is impossible.  There are two problems as I see it.

1.  Some white people simply are not prejudiced in this way.  In fact, some white people dedicate their entire lives to countering the effects of racism.  Your definition renders your solution impossible.  If all white people are racists who are intent on keeping the status quo for their own benefit, then no white people are going to work for the elimination of racism.  Even if just one white person works against racism, your definition is faulty.

2.  Some white people that are prejudiced are not in a position of power.  In fact, I'd venture to say that most white people that are prejudiced are not in a position of power.  Many of them are dirt poor.

To #2, your counter is probably that it doesn't matter, because just by condoning the status quo, white people label themselves as racist -- they don't have to actively engage in racist behavior.  But this is the problem -- that answer presupposes your own conclusion.

THAT is why I've challenged you to explain specifically why passive and active involvement are one and the same thing.  Because, as I see it, they're not.  And by making them the same thing, you are actively involved in a racist act yourself: marking a collective without regard to individual difference.   
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: thorc954 on July 07, 2006, 09:03:09 PM
Dude, why the @#!* would I lie about it being a coincidence?


ummm... I was joking. Trying to insinuate that you were always on... .umm... yea...
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: philibusters on July 07, 2006, 09:07:15 PM
Whoa, looks like you guys got sidetracked on a discussion about the definition of racism.  If racism is a concept, then why can't you both be right, there is structual racism that affects whole societies and then there are normative beliefs  that individuals hold.  They are different things clearly---and if you both acknowledge they are different abstract concepts does it really matter which one gets the title racism?

And whats this about everybody being prejudice?  I certainly agree we all look at the world from a unique (very narrow, self centered) perspective, but that doesn't make you prejudice per se.  You may just very well not be aware of the other sides position, feelings, and desires.  Not everybody takes Atticus Finch's advice and puts themselves into other people's shoes.  But then there are other people who actively hate and spread messages of hate, and whatever you call the two, they also seem worth distinguishing.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: thorc954 on July 07, 2006, 09:11:56 PM
1) I believe that all whites are prejudice. I know it is something I cant prove, but I have not met a single white person in the duration of my life that did not have some prejudice about people of a different race.  We all see color as one of the defining attributes in another person.  Id even venture to say that people actively working against racism still had racial prejudices.  Either way, it cant be proved, and I wont attempt it.

2) Even dirt poor whites are in a position of power over dirt poor blacks.  This should be innarguable, but you may disagree.  I wanna quote Chris Rock on something, but I dont remember exactly what he said in his joke. It was something like, yea, im a rich famous black man, but not even a blind crippled white man would change positions with me.  I may have butchered the quote, but that is the general idea.  

And, Im not sure how to explain at this time why active and passive involvement are one in the same... I just think that either way they are involvement, maybe? Its late, you will have to deal with my lack of answer for the time being...


what school are you going to next year?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 07, 2006, 09:13:21 PM
(Edit:  this is in response to philibusters.  Long time no see, by the way.)

The definition of racism is fundamental because the power structures involved are key to a debate about the justification of Affirmative Action.

If all white people are racists, then no white people should be in favor of Affirmative Action, unless there is some specific benefit to white people inherent in Affirmative Action.

I don't think the position that all people are racist is tenable.  I don't think there is some specific benefit offered to white people by AA -- if there was, we'd have to argue as to why it is then still justified, and the ethics underpinning that justification.

So you see, by arguing the definition as we are doing here, we channel the discussion.  I think red was on the right track -- I want to channel the discussion in the direction of her argument.
 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 07, 2006, 09:15:34 PM
That's alright.  We'll hash this out some other night.  I still see some gaping holes in your argument, but I think we're moving closer to a point where we can figure out exactly what is useful in our differences.

And I'm not attending law school next year.  It's my cycle -- I'm still finishing my BA.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: thorc954 on July 07, 2006, 09:15:43 PM
Whoa, looks like you guys got sidetracked on a discussion about the definition of racism.  If racism is a concept, then why can't you both be right, there is structual racism that affects whole societies and then there are normative beliefs  that individuals hold.  They are different things clearly---and if you both acknowledge they are different abstract concepts does it really matter which one gets the title racism?

And whats this about everybody being prejudice?  I certainly agree we all look at the world from a unique (very narrow, self centered) perspective, but that doesn't make you prejudice per se.  You may just very well not be aware of the other sides position, feelings, and desires.  Not everybody takes Atticus Finch's advice and puts themselves into other people's shoes.  But then there are other people who actively hate and spread messages of hate, and whatever you call the two, they also seem worth distinguishing.


your first point was something I was trying to suggest when I said that they are mearly words.  The narrow minded view that we have is what makes us prejudice because we are viewing things through certain lenses. Prejudice comes in the forms of stereotypes and all other things. It isnt inherently bad to have these prejudices as long as you are open to change.  Then again, there does exist a difference between passive racists who merely are content with the status quo and outward racists who spread the message.  

I love your first arguement though and am happy that you mentioned it
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SapientiaEstPotentia on July 10, 2006, 08:53:04 PM
Do you think that a Ralwsian justification of AA follows from the Difference Principle? 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: H4CS on July 10, 2006, 09:12:44 PM
Do you think that a Ralwsian justification of AA follows from the Difference Principle? 


Let me guess, you were one of those students who would read his hand in class and ask "What would Durkheim say about globalization" to mask the fact that you didn't finish the reading.  Next.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: bass on July 10, 2006, 09:56:14 PM
Do you think that a Ralwsian justification of AA follows from the Difference Principle? 


Let me guess, you were one of those students who would read his hand in class and ask "What would Durkheim say about globalization" to mask the fact that you didn't finish the reading.  Next.

Let me guess, you were one of those clowns who stood in front of ice sculptures, marveling at their height while wishing you could get back to masturbating in your parent's basement (which I've heard is NOT illegal...)
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 10, 2006, 10:00:44 PM
Oh, bass, you guys are going to have so much fun in Spaulding's parents' basement.  I hope you end up in the same section.

Meanwhile, red. would be really disappointed that we've gone off-topic.  I am going to mention the stereotype threat here to legitimate this post.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 10, 2006, 10:20:30 PM
hahahahaah

Screw red.  The deviation was still on topic, but it was a little haggle-ish.  Semantics probably don't deserve two pages on this thread.

Well, at least not that far off the direct path, they don't.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 10, 2006, 10:24:33 PM
Well, J, you know I'd follow you down most paths.  Look, there's a dark alley right there.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 10, 2006, 10:28:04 PM
Ladies first, Miss P. 

*ducks behind a car and disappears*
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SapientiaEstPotentia on July 10, 2006, 11:54:02 PM
You turn the burden of proof by asking if it’s legitimate to claim that “we have a true meritocracy,” for a true meritocracy is the necessary antithesis assumed by those who claim that AA is wrong? 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 11, 2006, 01:59:08 PM
So, anyway. Where were we?

I had started a narrative that founded a justification for race-based affirmative action at the top law schools not on historical reasons, nor on diversity grounds, but as a matter of simple fairness for candidates who are just as capable and academically qualified as their white counterparts.

I have started to make a case that an absence of an affirmative action program in the face of the systematic racial bias represented by law schools’ overreliance on the LSAT would represent an unfair, unmeritocratic, and inefficient method of building an incoming law school class.

I have tried to build this case by arguing that:

a) We live in a society in which Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans are seen as naturally less intellectually capable.

b) This stereotype is pervasive and  particularly affects those URM individuals who are the most intellectually capable and accomplished.

c) This phenomenon manifests itself, inter alia, in a phenomenon labeled “stereotype threat” by social psychologists: Just as women score dramatically lower if they take a test in which they are expected to worse as a group than men, than they would have if they were not so primed; and just as white men score dramatically lower in a test when they are expected to do worse as a group than Asians, than they would have if they were not so primed, it turns out that URMs score less in standardized tests when they are expected to do worse as a group than whites, than they would have if they were not so primed.

The difference then is not an innate one between groups, but an environmental one between the circumstances under which members of each groups take the tests.

Someone in this thread asked, but how are “URMs primed before the LSAT?”.  My answer is that if you truly believe either (1) that Americans generally don’t think that blacks (for example) are intellectually inferior to whites; or (2) that the LSAT is not viewed as a measure of intellect, then.... well, I have no good answer for you except to urge you to use your common sense(s). In LSD AA-Board parlance, “go read a book”.  :)

H4CS (and, I think, Miss P) made the point that the stereotype threat is a nothing but a transmission mechanism for societal racism, and that is an observation that is hard to dispute.

-----

So, what now?

We have a situation in which the primary instrument  by which schools admit applicants reflects a race-based bias. Not simply because URMs score lower, on average, than whites,  mind you, but because of why they score lower. It’s a question of an uneven playing field.

This complicates the notion of merit, credentials, etc., and will likely complicate one’s understanding of affirmative action as “racial preferences”.


There are a number of options, at this point:

1. Eliminate racist stereotypes

2. Counteract the discernible effects of societal stereotypes as they impact the admissions process

3. Say “@#!* ‘em; life’s not fair; who gives a *&^%?”


The first option would be nice, but probably beyond the reach of the admissions offices of the T14 schools.

No doubt that there are people who subscribe to the third option, and those of you who do can stop reading here.  (That means you, breadboy  ;)). Just spare us the use of the  moral terminology -- “on your their own merit”, “unfair racial preferences”,  etc.


As to the second option. Notice the following interesting observations:

The stereotype effect affects different URM subsets differently: 6 points for Blacks, 4 points for Hispanics, and 2 points for native Americans. There is a negligible or no such effect for Asians, women, Jews, etc. (Remember that these are figures that have been arrived at after controlling for SES, school, UG Major, & GPA).

There seems to be a correspondence, then, between the strength by which LSAT scores are discounted by admissions committees, and the degree to which the stereotype threat affects different groups. 6-4-2. That’s pretty close.

Notice also that these are group averages -- not every URM candidate is affected equally by this, and, therefore, not every black candidate, for example, scores 6 points lower ( some score only 2 points less, and others score 10 points less). The problem, then, is to distinguish between them - when is a 166 really a 176, and when is it really a 168? That seems a toughie, until you open the rest of the file and look at everything else in the applicants’ background: transcript, statements, LORs, scholarly accomplishments, etc. I’d look at an applicant’s file holistically, knowing that the LSAT can really lie for URMs, and ask myself: will this person be a credit to my school?

Holistic? Are you laughing incredulously? Well, it turns out that they do actually look at the files of quite a number of applicants. Here’s how we can tell: Linda Wightman of LSAC did an empirical study and found: “In general, white applicants with higher pre-admission academic credentials had already been denied admission in favor of lower-credentialed white applicants, because of nonacademic factors in their application, or were admitted and decided not to attend that school.” Read that again. It’s important.

No? Holistically is not how you would do it? Maybe there are better ways. Here’s an excellent place to post them:
http://www.lawschooldiscussion.org/prelaw/index.php/topic,55214.0.html


--------

Let’s approach it from another angle. That’s what Lurking3rdYear has suggested, based on his understanding of Sanders. Start from the law school outcomes and work backwards.

The argument advanced is this : URMs do worse, on average, than whites in each law school to which they are admitted; the credentials were lower in the admissions process; and therefore, they are mismatched -- they don’t belong there. Oh, and PS. the LSAT discrepancy is therefore a good indicator of who should get in and who shouldn’t.

Here’s a  pair of clues indicating that there might be a problem with that line of argument.

1. Admitted women have higher (or indistinguishable) index scores than (from) men, and yet they perform significantly worse than men while in law school.

2. In-state admittees have significantly lower index numbers than out-of-state members of the same class, and yet they close the gap in law school. (Approximately 1/3 of the class at Texas, for example, would not be admitted under a numbers-only selection system. Notice how no-one wonders whether they are intellectually fit to attend Michigan or Texas).


Here’s another pair of clues:

1. The Michigan study that I linked to earlier in the thread shows that their URM graduates succeed just as well in the practice of law after graduation;

2. Consider the results of a study conducted by a large New York law firm of all the lawyers it hired over a thirty-year period. "This firm found that those who were superstars in law school were also likely to be outstanding lawyers and to become partners in the firm. But, below the top 1 or 2 percent of law school performers, there was little to no correlation between law school grades and the work performance of those who attained partnership. Similar results are available from other legal educators and researchers who have followed students after graduation". [Source: “Lessons and Challenges of Becoming Gentlemen”, 4 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change. The firm is Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson.]


There’s a narrative that coherently fits these clues together into a noce whole, and probably only one such narrative. I’ll come back to it tomorrow, but in the meantime -- discuss.


Also -  a plea to those of you who chose to write in the style of the Sufi mystics (yes, that's you SapientaEstPotentia, and you philibusters, and you thorc954), please write simply so that I can follow what you are saying. Or, as HD would say, stop being so cryptic, fuckers.

Also - to The Whore: work out your Saffie-guilt issues elsewhere, dammit, and stop hijacking this thread.


Okay, I'm out.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: H4CS on July 11, 2006, 02:06:26 PM
My head feels much better now.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: obamacon on July 11, 2006, 04:49:53 PM
I have started to make a case that an absence of an affirmative action program in the face of the systematic racial bias represented by law schools’ overreliance on the LSAT would represent an unfair, unmeritocratic, and inefficient method of building an incoming law school class.

Why is it better to add affirmative action rather than remove emphasis on the LSAT?

Quote
a) We live in a society in which Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans are seen as naturally less intellectually capable.

Perhaps (I’m reticent to say what “society” thinks, but I’ll agree to some extent just to continue the argument.), but so were Irish, Italian, Jewish, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean immigrants at one time or another, all of which don’t seem to be in need of affirmative action.

Quote
This phenomenon manifests itself, inter alia, in a phenomenon labeled “stereotype threat” by social psychologists: Just as women score dramatically lower if they take a test in which they are expected to worse as a group than men, than they would have if they were not so primed; and just as white men score dramatically lower in a test when they are expected to do worse as a group than Asians, than they would have if they were not so primed, it turns out that URMs score less in standardized tests when they are expected to do worse as a group than whites, than they would have if they were not so primed.

I think you have yet to prove this. I don’t find sitting a group women down and saying, “alright we’re going to see if your understanding of Calculus is up to the level of the male nuclear physicists we just tested,” is the same as a Hispanic woman sitting down to take the LSAT without a similar pronouncement.

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Someone in this thread asked, but how are “URMs primed before the LSAT?”.  My answer is that if you truly believe either (1) that Americans generally don’t think that blacks (for example) are intellectually inferior to whites; or (2) that the LSAT is not viewed as a measure of intellect, then.... well, I have no good answer for you except to urge you to use your common sense(s). In LSD AA-Board parlance, “go read a book”.  :)

See the above question.

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We have a situation in which the primary instrument  by which schools admit applicants reflects a race-based bias. Not simply because URMs score lower, on average, than whites,  mind you, but because of why they score lower. It’s a question of an uneven playing field.
Quote
2. Counteract the discernible effects of societal stereotypes as they impact the admissions process

Which should be rectified in Graduate school why? Why not preschool or high school or undergrad or post-grad or on a non-academic level all together? Will there be any negative impact from trying to fix it here, is this a symptom of something else we’re missing earlier that with only be superficially fixed at this point? Are there better ways to do this that will cause fewer problems? Etc.



Quote
3. Say “@#!* ‘em; life’s not fair; who gives a *&^%?”

In a manner of speaking:

In regard to the colored people, there is always more that is benevolent, I perceive, than just, manifested towards us. What I ask for the negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us... . I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! ... And if the negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! ... your interference is doing him positive injury.

-Frederick Douglass - What the Black Man Wants, Speech in Boston, Massachusetts, (26 January 1865)



Quote
No doubt that there are people who subscribe to the third option, and those of you who do can stop reading here. Just spare us the use of the  moral terminology -- “on your their own merit”, “unfair racial preferences”,  etc. 

See the above.

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That means you, breadboy  ;).

I’m flattered you thought of me.


Quote
The stereotype effect affects different URM subsets differently: 6 points for Blacks, 4 points for Hispanics, and 2 points for native Americans. There is a negligible or no such effect for Asians, women, Jews, etc. (Remember that these are figures that have been arrived at after controlling for SES, school, UG Major, & GPA).

You’re calculations are problematic, because you demarcate along broad racial lines instead of narrow ones. For example, if you looked at blacks from Caribbean ancestry you’d probably see little need for affirmative action, but if you looked at whites of Scottish ancestry you’d probably say that minorities need 10-15 point advantages on the LSAT. How would you explain Caribbean blacks “resistance” to the stereotype threat by the way?

Quote
Notice also that these are group averages -- not every URM candidate is affected equally by this, and, therefore, not every black candidate, for example, scores 6 points lower ( some score only 2 points less, and others score 10 points less). The problem, then, is to distinguish between them - when is a 166 really a 176, and when is it really a 168? That seems a toughie, until you open the rest of the file and look at everything else in the applicants’ background: transcript, statements, LORs, scholarly accomplishments, etc. I’d look at an applicant’s file holistically, knowing that the LSAT can really lie for URMs, and ask myself: will this person be a credit to my school?

And this is the exact reason for the LSAT, so we don’t have to add in several other factors and pray over it to get some idea of where people stand in relation to others.

Quote
Holistic? Are you laughing incredulously?

Just smirking a bit.

Quote
Well, it turns out that they do actually look at the files of quite a number of applicants. Here’s how we can tell: Linda Wightman of LSAC did an empirical study and found: “In general, white applicants with higher pre-admission academic credentials had already been denied admission in favor of lower-credentialed white applicants, because of nonacademic factors in their application, or were admitted and decided not to attend that school.” Read that again. It’s important.

Something tells me “non-academic factors” may have to do with legacy admissions (which aren’t on trial here) and in any case it isn’t clear enough what she means for me to take a definitive stand on it.

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Consider the results of a study conducted by a large New York law firm of all the lawyers it hired over a thirty-year period.

This isn’t exactly WLRK, Sullivan & Cromwell, Cravath, or Skadden is it? Is it in any way representative of other large firms in New York, much less other parts of the country? How about medium and small firms, or solo practitioners, etc.




Overall, I think your motivations are pure, but in addition to this entire thread being a slice of pie in the sky, I don't think it would work out the way you seem to suggest.


I’ll comment on anything I missed after you respond.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: thorc954 on July 11, 2006, 07:39:10 PM
I didnt think I was being cryptic but owell. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: BPM on July 11, 2006, 09:07:43 PM
Despite introducing it as a thread, im not convinced the OP has a firm understanding of the stereotype threat.  It is discussed as if it were a mystical force, providing an omnibus generalization for whatever conclusion that he fancies, when in fact the threats can be dissected to individuals internalized beliefs rather than a mechanism of transported racism imposed by one group onto another.

Secondly, he cites LSAT differences as the basis of the stereotype threat, as if the LSAT number differences are substantial proof.  The irony is he then proceeds to identify how useless LSAT scores are when evaluating intra/interstate/women and minority groups.  If the numbers or so meaningless, why would you rely on them so heavily as proof for this nefarious stereotype threat?

Finally, assuming the stereotype threat exists and was present on the LSAT, shouldn't the stereotype fall hardest on Asians?  Most Asian stereotypes are predicated on language dysfunction and poor communication skills, what the LSAT tests heavily.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: thorc954 on July 11, 2006, 10:26:12 PM
law schools suck when it comes down to it.  You say there is a 6 point difference in controlled scores of white and black canidates.  You also say that the score gap can be up to ten points depending on certain factors.  What exactly would these factors be? Ignorance or what?  Two people from similiar schools can do equally well in some easy major yet one can still be smarter then the other.  My problem with this suggestion is it ways too heavily on race.  Okay, add six points to African American's scores.  90% of the ones getting into T14 on LSN would still fall way below the scores necessary. Therefore, AA action isnt trying to place qualified blacks in positions as much as it is trying to fill some damn quotas to give everyone the oppression that they care about minorities, when they should care less who fills up there spots as long as they are qualified.  I hate what the education system in our country has become.  Underqualified rich kids, minorities, and athletes are pushed into amazing schools and are rewarded with equally amazing jobs.

I disagree with the OP about AA being justified in law school... I tried to post my opposition before but it was turned into a philosophical debate about the definition of racism when I was simply trying to exclude racism from the picture altogether.   
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 11, 2006, 10:28:11 PM
Notice also that these are group averages -- not every URM candidate is affected equally by this, and, therefore, not every black candidate, for example, scores 6 points lower ( some score only 2 points less, and others score 10 points less). The problem, then, is to distinguish between them - when is a 166 really a 176, and when is it really a 168? That seems a toughie, until you open the rest of the file and look at everything else in the applicants’ background: transcript, statements, LORs, scholarly accomplishments, etc. I’d look at an applicant’s file holistically, knowing that the LSAT can really lie for URMs, and ask myself: will this person be a credit to my school?

I think this is the biggest hole in this whole "stereotype threat" argument.  I will assume that Red is right and that certain people's scores are affected by racial stereotypes (which are only furthered by AA, but that's another argument).  However, raced-based affirmative action in no way accounts for the differences in scores of certain applicants based on stereotypes.  One black person may have struggled through life, have burning crosses displayed in his front yard, and be the fourteenth of twenty illegitimate children, yet in terms of race-based affirmative action, his 164 LSAT would be equivalent to the 164 of Michael Jordan's son.  I completely agree with Red that schools should be more holistic and less dependent on the LSAT as an absolute measure of a person's intellect, but nowhere in this whole stereotype threat babble does she say why schools should consider race as any portion of this holistic picture.  Why not consider family background or socioeconomic status instead of race?  The reason of course is that no law school brags about having 30% of their applicants from single-parent homes, but they are careful to have a high enough percentage of minorities as to not embarass themselves.   


I'm not going to speak for red., but I think the point I'm about to make may help you see her side of things a bit better.


This argument is not dismissing family background or socioeconomic status as integral components to the "holistic picture".  It is not claiming that Affirmative Action is perfect, or even the ideal solution.  It is not claiming that there are no ironic racial subtexts to AA's practice, either.

What it is claiming is that Affirmative Action, as it stands, is an effective and legitimate method of solving a very real and very troublesome problem.  It describes, in detail, the problem (or problems), and then explains why Affirmative Action, as it stands, is a way of solving that problem (or problems).
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 11, 2006, 10:29:56 PM
I am leaving the rest to people with more patience, but seriously this:

This isn’t exactly WLRK, Sullivan & Cromwell, Cravath, or Skadden is it? Is it in any way representative of other large firms in New York, much less other parts of the country? How about medium and small firms, or solo practitioners, etc.

made me chuckle   :D  First, bb, weren't you just railing against elitism and name-dropping the other day?  Second, isn't FF consistently in the top third of the Vault 100, higher than places like MoFo and Boies Schiller and Akin Gump?  I agree that the experience of one firm may not be representative of other types of firms, but calling FF out for not being Cravath seems absurd.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 11, 2006, 10:53:28 PM
made me chuckle   :D  First, bb, weren't you just railing against elitism and name-dropping the other day.

To tell you the truth I'm not sure, perhaps, but I'm going to guess it was in a different context.

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Second, isn't FF consistently in the top third of the Vault 100, higher than places like MoFo and Boies Schiller and Akin Gump? 

Yes, I believe it is.

Quote
but calling FF out for not being Cravath seems absurd.

Profits per partner Watchtell:    $3,790,000
Profits per partner Fried, Frank: $980,000

So you want to limit consideration to firms in the top three now?  Because you know, Sullivan & Cromwell, Skadden, and Simpson Thatcher (among hundreds of other top firms) all have numbers much closer to FF's than to Wachtell's.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: H4CS on July 11, 2006, 10:58:04 PM
But I think you (and possibly red) are showing great naivete about the way affirmative action "as it stands" actually operates.  You may like to think that adcoms are huddled in a room somewhere contemplating the immense suffering of their law school's applicants, but the truth is that elite schools like Harvard are much more likely to admit a URM with borderline numbers above a poor white kid with similar numbers, simply because of the color of the applicants' skin.  You might like to think that the poor white kid will get a "holistic" approach, but in reality the school must maintain a certain percentage of blacks/hispanics and has no such mandate about the percentage of poor people it must admit.       

You forgot to include the council of rabbis and the trilateral commission in that neat little theory of yours.  You know, if you put half this effort into applying to schools instead of thinking that you know better than everyone else, you might end up with a great cycle.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SapientiaEstPotentia on July 11, 2006, 11:00:37 PM
Democracy temporarily halted AA in California.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 11, 2006, 11:04:43 PM
So you want to limit consideration to firms in the top three now?  Because you know, Sullivan & Cromwell, Skadden, and Simpson Thatcher (among hundreds of other top firms) all have numbers much closer to FF's than to Wachtell's.

These stats (at the bottom) are a bit old, but FF doesn't rank in the top 10

http://www.gothamgazette.com/article//20041228/5/1231

Oh my God, Breadboy, I really don't know what's happening here, but I think you are missing the boat.  Let me be clear, I don't care if it's top 10 in partner compensation or anything else!  The point is that if anything, FF is more representative of your average large firm than your friends at Wachtell are.  But I barely had a point. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 11, 2006, 11:08:47 PM
This argument is not dismissing family background or socioeconomic status as integral components to the "holistic picture".  It is not claiming that Affirmative Action is perfect, or even the ideal solution.  It is not claiming that there are no ironic racial subtexts to AA's practice, either.

What it is claiming is that Affirmative Action, as it stands, is an effective and legitimate method of solving a very real and very troublesome problem.  It describes, in detail, the problem (or problems), and then explains why Affirmative Action, as it stands, is a way of solving that problem (or problems).


But I think you (and possibly red) are showing great naivete about the way affirmative action "as it stands" actually operates.  You may like to think that adcoms are huddled in a room somewhere contemplating the immense suffering of their law school's applicants, but the truth is that elite schools like Harvard are much more likely to admit a URM with borderline numbers above a poor white kid with similar numbers, simply because of the color of the applicants' skin.  You might like to think that the poor white kid will get a "holistic" approach, but in reality the school must maintain a certain percentage of blacks/hispanics and has no such mandate about the percentage of poor people it must admit.       


Please, demonstrate where this was claimed.

I just told you that the argument is not claiming that Affirmative Action is perfect, nor that it's ideal.  There are no pretensions that Affirmative Action forces the correct call in every situation. 

The argument does claim that, on average, AA works to the advantage of candidates who legitimately need it.  The argument outlines the reasons why these candidates are automatically disadvantage from the get-go.  It does not claim that those who do not qualify for AA are not similarly disadvantaged. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SapientiaEstPotentia on July 11, 2006, 11:22:10 PM
Where’s the socio-political article showing that Pete Wilson and Ward Connerly promoted and helped pass Prop 209 with a personal agenda?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 11, 2006, 11:31:36 PM

I understand what you're saying, but you are overlooking the obvious.  If you were really concerned about evening out advantages and disadvantages, you would embrace SES-based AA and not race-based AA.  If adcoms gave more weight to applicants who had underprivileged backgrounds (as I believe they should) and ignored race, blacks would probably still benefit (since more blacks than whites are poor).  But under this system of SES-based AA the unfairness of admitting Colin Powell's grandson over a poor white kid would be removed. 


What I believe and support is a separate issue altogether.  If you've read any of my previous posts in this forum, you'd know that I wholeheartedly support SES-based AA, and that I agree that it solves many of the race-based issues as well.

However, your argument here, as it's stated, seems to be completely overlooking the basis of red.'s argument: that race, in and of itself, can have a major deleterious effect on an applicant before the cycle even begins (while getting an education, writing the LSAT, etc.).  This is one area that SES-based AA cannot take into account.  This is the basis of the argument put forth in this thread. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SapientiaEstPotentia on July 11, 2006, 11:33:44 PM
With enough votes, (California’s )Prop 209 may be overturned.  Now, if Arnold supported such a view, he would garner the Democratic votes he is working hard to win. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 11, 2006, 11:47:32 PM
But I barely had a point. 

I think we agree.

Ha ha.  At least I'm marginally self-aware. 

Also, if my point was minor, your point was both deeply flawed and minor.  Oh, well.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 12, 2006, 12:23:06 AM
Okay, guys, this is entertaining, but take it to a different thread, lest red. blame me for another hijack (she seems to be fond of doing such things).
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 12, 2006, 01:35:22 AM
Are you intentionally pulling a breadboy here?

Let's go through this in steps.

MaraudingJ, it seems that everyone (including red) agrees that not all URM's suffer from this stereotype threat; in fact, even assuming the threat is indeed real, the threat obviously affects different blacks in different ways (how else to explain black people getting above 174?).  Once it is established that different URM's are affected differently by the stereotype threat, using the stereotype threat as a valid reason for race-based AA becomes just another stereotype itself. 

You'll have to explain this further.  The stereotype threat exists -- it is real.  It affects a significant amount of black candidates (as these studies demonstrate).  I already agreed with you that AA is not an ideal blanket solution, but considering that a significant proportion of this demographic is affected by the problem, I think the solution is reasonable.

Also, there is no reason to think that other classes of people (poor people, people from Arkansas, people from community colleges) aren't affected by the stereotype threat as well. 

I agree.  But this is simply irrelevant to the fact that black people are affected by the stereotype threat.

It would be impossible to thoroughly research all the ways different groups of people might be psychologically affected by various generalizations. 

We don't need to.  All we care about is stereotype threat, and that can definitely be researched in as many demographic groups as you wish.

Therefore, the best way to assess LSAT scores is not to point to psychological research regarding decreased self-esteem of certain groups,

This statement makes me think you either didn't read any of red.'s long, explicit posts, or you simply didn't understand them.  I pick the former.

but to take into account SES status and ignore psychological reasons why someone might not score well on the LSAT (since there is a plethora of such reasons, and all the members of a particular race cannot possibly share them all).

Perhaps.  But this is not a claim that the argument put forth in this thread defends. 

And I think that, rather than ignore effects that have been proven to impact the performance of large segments of a particular demographic, one would want to look at as many as possible and design a system that is as fair as possible in light of this information.  This is why I believe SES is an important factor in a candidate's profile, and this is why I (and, if I recall correctly, red.) argue that the LSAT is not the ideal way to assess candidates. 

Unfortunately, as long as the LSAT exists, it demonstrates proven flaws, including (but not limited to) stereotype threat within certain demographics.
 
Before I go to bed, I want to point out that you and Red both seemed to be very concerned about the "problem" of blacks scoring poorly on the LSAT (and therefore being less competitive for law school admission as a group than other races). 

We are.  But that's because the LSAT is a poor test.  It is a poor test for a variety of groups, not just blacks.  However, in this thread, red. specifies why it's bad for minorities, particularly blacks.  She is not claiming that it's only bad for minorities and nobody else. 

While it may be a problem, why is it a problem that rich white people should be solving?

Who said they should be solving it?  red. sure as hell didn't. 

But while we're at it, I'll give you my two cents.  The truth, unfortunately, is that those in a position to make a difference in the way law schools administer Affirmative Action are, overwhelmingly, rich white people.  They don't have to solve it, but if it needs to be solved, they'd be the ones with the power to do so.

I think it's very arrogant to think that blacks are simply pawns in a white man's game that the white man can move around at will and that somehow if white people gave preferential treatment to blacks that everything would be OK.  Maybe just maybe blacks can solve their own problems.       

And this is precisely the type of argument that red. is attempting to avoid in this thread.  It's not about who gets to solve whose problems.  It's about what that solution is to be.  No agency has been removed from minorities in this thread.  I don't see why you'd think it has.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SouthSide on July 12, 2006, 02:35:25 AM
We are.  But that's because the LSAT is a poor test.  It is a poor test for a variety of groups, not just blacks.  However, in this thread, red. specifies why it's bad for minorities, particularly blacks.  She is not claiming that it's only bad for minorities and nobody else. 

I will continue to make this point. The problem is in societal attitudes about minorities; it is not in the test. There is no evidence that the LSAT is a poor or biased test.

Also note: If you accept red's argument, which I do in part, you realize that the better the LSAT got, the more the stark the so-called "stereotype threat" would become. Presumably, if everyone universally acknowledged that the LSAT was a massive determining factor in law school success, the psychological pressure of stereotypes would be even more pronounced.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: BPM on July 12, 2006, 06:56:26 AM
You'll have to explain this further.  The stereotype threat exists -- it is real.  It affects a significant amount of black candidates (as these studies demonstrate).  I already agreed with you that AA is not an ideal blanket solution, but considering that a significant proportion of this demographic is affected by the problem, I think the solution is reasonable.


Whoa there.  The studies indicated the stereotype threat affects certain candidates for certain aptitudes  under certain conditions and when that prime is removed, the threat no longer exists.  There are three variables involved here, and I haven't seen any discussion of these relevant to the aptitudes and conditions of the LSAT.

For example, the threat of black subjests was removed by stating it was a psychological rather than skills based assessment.  Would you be willing to place wagers on an LSAT-style experiment where candidates were told the test was a psychological assessment? According to the OP's studies and based solely on the significance of the stereothreat attributed as justification for AA, the black-white gap in performance could be removed.  If it doesn't normalize the stereotype threat is shown to be lacking in significance and the justification for AA on that basis falls apart.  I certainly wouldn't bet on it normalizing.

Whats entertaining, is everyone knows that's hogwash.  AA with roots in SES is definitely more sensible.  I'd put my money on any group whose parents/groundparents are physicists/doctors/lawyers/engineers/professors over a middle/lower class minimal education group, regardless of race.  The caveat here is that while race may introduce one to a more positive socioeconomic group, educational level almost guarantees it. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 12, 2006, 11:07:56 AM
Also, if my point was minor, your point was both deeply flawed and minor.

That's the nerdiest thing I've ever seen you type. In conclusion, my slide rule is bigger than yours.

Honestly, if this is the nerdiest thing you've ever seen me type, you really haven't been paying me enough attention at all.  I'm sad.  [/hijack]
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 12, 2006, 01:01:30 PM
breadboy asked/said:

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1. Why is it better to add affirmative action rather than remove emphasis on the LSAT?

Actually, it may not be. In my view, affirmative action is in no way a first-best solution to the problem represented by the LSAT as a systematically-biased admissions instrument.

The situation as I see it, is this: given the US News rankings’ importance, and given the importance of the 50th, 25th and 75th percentile LSAT scores in a school’s rankings, it is unlikely that schools would put principle over rank. In fact they haven’t done so. What they have done is to try to remedy the effects of the systematic bias in the LSAT within the room for discretion that the rankings arms-race allows them: in the bottom half or quartile of their LSAT distribution.

De-emphasizing the LSAT is, other things being equal, a preferable solution,  and I have previously indicated my own views on how this could work here:
http://www.lawschooldiscussion.org/prelaw/index.php/topic,55214.msg1098274.html#msg1098274

If you think it wrong-headed, please post your replies there rather than in this thread.

Quote
2. but so were Irish, Italian, Jewish, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean immigrants at one time or another, all of which don’t seem to be in need of affirmative action.

Notice that you have mixed past and present tenses in this sentence. It is a reflection of your not reading Sowell critically.

Here’s an explanation of the difference anyway. 

a) Sandardized testing of the LSAT sort became both widespread and important after the second world war, by which time Irish, Italian, and Jewish Americans had already “become white”.  African Americans’, Latinos’, and Native Americans’  widespread participation in higher education came later , much later., after they had already been labeled intrinsically stupid (or, in your view, breadboy, culturally predisposed to stupidity).

b) Stereotypes about The Jew and The Oriental mostly involve(d) “clever and devious”, rather than “dumb”. In which case, it is hard to make a case that Asians and jews would be threatened in quite the same way. There is, however, a hint that they may now receive the benefit of a stereotype lift.
http://www.law.ucla.edu/kang/aajclass/waton__stereotype_lift_03.pdf.


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3.  I think you have yet to prove this [ that the stereotype threat operates wrt URMs & the LSAT in particular]. I don’t find sitting a group  [of] women down and saying, “alright we’re going to see if your understanding of Calculus is up to the level of the male nuclear physicists we just tested,” is the same as a Hispanic woman sitting down to take the LSAT without a similar pronouncement.
and a similar comment from BPM:

Quote
The studies indicated the stereotype threat affects certain candidates for certain aptitudes  under certain conditions and when that prime is removed, the threat no longer exists.  There are three variables involved here, and I haven't seen any discussion of these relevant to the aptitudes and conditions of the LSAT.

For example, the threat of black subjests was removed by stating it was a psychological rather than skills based assessment.  Would you be willing to place wagers on an LSAT-style experiment where candidates were told the test was a psychological assessment? According to the OP's studies and based solely on the significance of the stereothreat attributed as justification for AA, the black-white gap in performance could be removed.  If it doesn't normalize the stereotype threat is shown to be lacking in significance and the justification for AA on that basis falls apart.  I certainly wouldn't bet on it normalizing.

Right, and I think this is the central point around which the discussion in this thread turns. I am proceeding from a broadly scientific approach on this one: find an explanation that best fits all of the facts, and proceed on that basis until an explanation that better fits the facts comes along.

The stereotype phenomenon, as I have pointed out many times, does exist. The question is whether it explains the performance disparities in the LSAT. As far as I can tell, it is more than reasonable to infer that it does:  it fits all of the criteria upon which the experimental results are based, and it is consistent with all of the real world facts with respect to the disparate performance of URMs on the LSAT.

“Proving” an inference is hard. That’s why I keep an open mind, while nevertheless thinking that stereotype threat is the best explanator that we know of.

I welcome any explanation at all, from anyone, that both explains this 6-4-2 point underperformance (after controlling for SES, GPA, school, and major) as well as (or better than) does the phenomenon of stereotype threat. Seriously -- I mean it. Give me that narrative, cite your data and sources (not opinion pieces or essays, but evidence), and I am ready to change my mind completely. “URMs and whites who score the same GPAs at the same schools and in the same majors and who otherwise have equal academic accomplishments and socioeconomic backgrounds have a 6-point differential in the LSAT because...”
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 12, 2006, 01:03:36 PM
Quote
4.  Which should be rectified in Graduate school why? Why not preschool or high school or undergrad or post-grad or on a non-academic level all together? Will there be any negative impact from trying to fix it here, is this a symptom of something else we’re missing earlier that with only be superficially fixed at this point? Are there better ways to do this that will cause fewer problems? Etc.

This is a simple point on which I do hope that we can make a litlte bit of progress.

I am telling you that people who have overcome whatever socioeconomic and (as you believe, cultural) disadvantages  to earn the same undergraduate GPA as a white counterpart from the same UG school, in the same Major, score consistently lower on the LSAT.

Your implicit argument (and your arguments are always implicit) is that blacks as a whole do worse than whites as a whole because there are problems in the pipeline. There is a lot of merit in that view, but it is not relevant to this discussion: we are talking here of a subset of the minority population, and that is a subset that has performed equally well in undergrad as whites. Despite the broken pipeline. 

Here is a quotation from evidence given in the Grutter case:

“The LSAT gap remains even when minority applicants are carefully matched with similarly successful white college graduates... I commissioned a study of the applicant pools for 12 law schools of varying levels of selectivity and reputation, limited to the top four feeder schools (those with the most applicants to the law school), to provide a sufficient data base. A total of 19,287 applicants were compared, including 1,636 applicants identified as members of minority groups.

Each minority applicant was compared with white applicants from the same undergraduate institution, but only if the white applicants’ GPAs were very close to the minority applicant’s.

White applicants were considered comparable to minority applicants when their GPAs were within ± .10 on a 4-point scale. When these graduates from the same colleges with the same grades were compared on the basis of their LSAT scores, the study’s author, Dr. Joseph Gannon, concluded that “the minority-nonminority group differences in LSAT scores are staggering.”

When compared with white students who graduated from the same college with the same GPAs, black applicants scored an average of 110 points lower on the LSAT, Chicanos and Latinos scored 97 points lower, and Native Americans scored 78 points lower [my note: the LSAT score scale then was 200-800].

Recently, a similar analysis was conducted of the applicants to Boalt Hall during 1996, 1997, and 1998. As a highly regarded law school at a major public university, Boalt Hall is similar to the University of Michigan School of Law. Boalt Hall draws the most applicants from the Berkeley campus, next from traditional rivals Stanford and UCLA, and then from Harvard and Yale.

Applicants from the five elite colleges who applied to Boalt in the years 1996-1998 included a total of 1,366 students from minority groups. Each student from a minority group was matched with all white students from the same college who also had four-year UGPAs that were nearly identical with the minority student’s (within ± .10 on a 4.0 scale). The results were remarkably similar to those obtained by Gannon two decades earlier. When compared with white students who graduated from the same elite college with the same GPAs (± .10 on a 4.0 scale), black applicants scored an average of 9.30 points lower on the LSAT, Chicanos and Latinos scored 6.87 points lower, and Native Americans scored 3.77 points lower [my note: score scale 120-180].

...This LSAT gap persists even when applicants are matched with other applicants from the same college with the same GPAs. The LSAT gap apparently has persisted for at least two decades and shows no signs of abating. That gap cannot be dismissed as reflective only of past academic deficiencies, as even the best performing graduates from the most elite undergraduate institutions exhibit this gap among various racial and ethnic groups. “


For the full study, see: Joseph Gannon, College Grades and LSAT Scores: An Opportunity to Examine the “Real Differences” in Minority-Nonminority Performance, in Towards a Diversified Legal Profession 272-283 (D. White, ed. 1981).

So, as you can see, we are not talking about a pipeline problem here. I have been very careful to distinguish a particular kind of disparity that is relevant to admissions at the top rung of law schools and that has nothing to do with general academic achievement.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 12, 2006, 01:05:30 PM
Quote
5. You’re calculations are problematic, because you demarcate along broad racial lines instead of narrow ones. For example, if you looked at blacks from Caribbean ancestry you’d probably see little need for affirmative action, but if you looked at whites of Scottish ancestry you’d probably say that minorities need 10-15 point advantages on the LSAT. How would you explain Caribbean blacks “resistance” to the stereotype threat by the way?

Good job in mining my past posts  for this.

First, I have no data on the differences between sub-sections within the black (or within other URM)  populations wrt resistance to stereotype threat and therefore to variations in  the distributions of their LSAT scores.

I do, however, have some intuitions.  My sense is that the distributions may not be identical to the extent that different subpopulations do not recognize the stereotype as applying to them.   A tour of LSN (unscientific, and therefore unreliable) suggests that this could be so.

How would I explain it if there were indeed such a disparate distribution? If they didn’t grow up in an environment in which this stereotype was not as prevalent, and if they believe that the stereotype applies to black Americans rather than to their own group (Africans, Caribbeans, black Americans raised elsewhere, etc), then this disparate LSAT score distribution would buttress the link between the stereotype threat phenomenon and LSAT scores. Would it not? (That’s not a rhetorical question).

It would be good if we had disaggregated data on this, but we don’t.

In its absence, we can only hope for a contextual and holistic approach to the way that adcomms review the files of URMs. If they don’t approach it that way, and if there is indeed a disparity in the way in which the stereotype threat affects different subgroups of URMs, the outcome is likely to be that Black Americans and Mexican Americans get screwed at the expense, for example, of recent African/Caribbean immigrants or Hispanics who self-identify as white. That’s my honest view.

6. I said: 

Quote
“Well, it turns out that they do actually look at the files of quite a number of applicants. Here’s how we can tell: Linda Wightman of LSAC did an empirical study and found: “In general, white applicants with higher pre-admission academic credentials had already been denied admission in favor of lower-credentialed white applicants, because of nonacademic factors in their application, or were admitted and decided not to attend that school.” Read that again. It’s important.”

breadboy responded:

Quote
“Something tells me “non-academic factors” may have to do with legacy admissions (which aren’t on trial here) and in any case it isn’t clear enough what she means for me to take a definitive stand on it.”

Uh-huh.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 12, 2006, 01:17:52 PM
BPM commented:

Quote
Despite introducing it as a thread, im not convinced the OP has a firm understanding of the stereotype threat.  It is discussed as if it were a mystical force, providing an omnibus generalization for whatever conclusion that he fancies, when in fact the threats can be dissected to individuals internalized beliefs rather than a mechanism of transported racism imposed by one group onto another.

Secondly, he cites LSAT differences as the basis of the stereotype threat, as if the LSAT number differences are substantial proof.  The irony is he then proceeds to identify how useless LSAT scores are when evaluating intra/interstate/women and minority groups.  If the numbers or so meaningless, why would you rely on them so heavily as proof for this nefarious stereotype threat?

Finally, assuming the stereotype threat exists and was present on the LSAT, shouldn't the stereotype fall hardest on Asians?  Most Asian stereotypes are predicated on language dysfunction and poor communication skills, what the LSAT tests heavily.

Don’t refer to me as “he”.

You say that I have not understood the stereotype threat, despite the fact that I have “introduced it as a thread”.

Here is Claude Steele, the primary researcher on the stereotype threat phenomenon, excerpted from his Grutter testimony.  [Everyone else can skip this without losing a thing My apologies]


EXPERT REPORT OF CLAUDE M. STEELE
Gratz, et al. v. Bollinger, et al., No. 97-75321 (E.D. Mich.)
Grutter, et al. v. Bollinger, et al., No. 97-75928 (E.D.Mich.)

    I have been Chair of the Department of Psychology at Stanford University since 1997, and a Professor of Psychology since 1991. Prior to that, I was a Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan from 1987 to 1991; during the last two years at the University of Michigan, I also served as a Research Scientist for the Institute for Social Research. Before that, I was a member of the faculty at the University of Washington from 1973 to 1987. I have written extensively about the psychology of how minority groups, especially African Americans, contend with negative stereotypes and the role this process can play in their school achievement and standardized test performance.

...    My testimony is based, most generally, on an expertise that has been developed over a 25-year period of research in the areas of social psychology, the social psychology of race and race relations, and the effects of race on standardized test performance. In preparing this testimony I have consulted a broad range of knowledgeable colleagues and experts in these areas, as well as the relevant research liteature. My testimony is also based on a 10-year research program that I have directed, the aim of which has been to understand the role of race and gender stereotypes in shaping test performance and the formation of academic identities.

.....

    OPINIONS TO BE EXPRESSED

    Standardized admissions tests such as the SAT, the ACT, and the LSAT are of limited value in evaluating "merit" or determining admissions qualifications of all students, but particularly for African American, Hispanic, and American Indian applicants for whom systematic influences make these tests even less diagnostic of their scholastic potential. The first part of this caution--that the test should not be relied upon too heavily in general admissions--is a standard recommendation of the companies that produce these tests, but is also based on extensive evidence documenting the limited predictiveness of these tests. This is not surprising given that these tests are not designed to measure innate ability nor mastery of a specified curriculum. Instead, standardized tests measure developed skills.

    The second part of the caution with respect to standardized tests--that use of these tests with minority applicants is especially unreliable--is based on longstanding research, including work done in my own laboratory over the past 10 years, showing that experiences tied to one's racial and ethnic identity can artificially depress standardized test performance. Importantly, these effects go beyond any effects of socioeconomic disadvantage, affecting even the best prepared, most invested students from these groups who often come from middle-class backgrounds. Relying on these tests too extensively in the admissions process will preempt the admission of a significant portion of highly qualified minority students. In making this argument, I will address three issues: The nature of the mental capacity measured by these tests; how well these tests predict performance in higher education for all students; and reasons African American, Hispanic, and American Indian students are more likely to underperform on these tests.


continued in next post...
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 12, 2006, 01:19:05 PM
    III. Are there significant factors that might cause African American, Hispanic, and American Indian students to perform less well than other groups on these tests?

    The answer to this question is a resounding, "Yes." I describe here what I regard as the two most important such factors.

    Stereotype threat and test performance. My research, and that of my colleagues, has isolated a factor that can depress the standardized test performance of minority students--a factor we call stereotype threat. This refers to the experience of being in a situation where one recognizes that a negative stereotype about one's group is applicable to oneself. When this happens, one knows that one could be judged or treated in terms of that stereotype, or that one could inadvertently do something that would confirm it. In situations where one cares very much about one's performance or related outcomes--as in the case of serious students taking the SAT--this threat of being negatively stereotyped can be upsetting and distracting. Our research confirms that when this threat occurs in the midst of taking a high stakes standardized test, it directly interferes with performance.

    In matters of race we often assume that once a situation is objectively the same for different groups, that it is experienced the same by each group. This assumption might seem especially reasonable in the case of "standardized" cognitive tests. But for Black students, unlike White students, the experience of difficulty on the test makes the negative stereotype about their group relevant as an interpretation of their performance, and of them. Thus they know as they meet frustration that they are especially likely to be seen through the lens of the stereotype as having limited ability. For those Black students who care very much about performing well, this is an extra intimidation not experienced by groups not stereotyped in this way. And it is a serious intimidation, implying, as it does, that they may not belong in walks of life where the tested abilities are important, walks of life in which they are heavily invested. Like many pressures, it may not be fully conscious, but it may be enough to impair their best thinking.

    To test this idea, Joshua Aronson and I asked Black and White Stanford students into our laboratory and, one at a time, gave them a very difficult 30-minute verbal test, the items of which came from the advanced Graduate Record Examination in literature. The bulk of these students were sophomores, which meant that the test would be difficult for them--precisely the feature that we reasoned would make this simple testing situation different for our Black participants than for our White participants. We told each student that we were testing ability.

    Black students performed dramatically worse than White students on the test. As we had statistically equated both groups on ability level, the differences in performance were not because the Black students had weaker skills than the White students. Something else was involved. Before we could confirm that that "something else" was stereotype threat, we had to control for the possibility that the Black students performed worse than the White students because they were less motivated or because their skills could be somehow less easily extrapolated to the advanced material of this test. We concluded that if stereotype threat and not something about these students themselves had caused their poorer test performance, then doing something that would reduce this threat during the test should allow their performance to improve, to go up to the level of equally capable White students. We devised a simple way to test this: We presented another group of Black and White sophomores, again statistically equated on ability level, the same test we had used before--not as a test of ability, but as a "problem-solving" task that had nothing to do with ability. This made the stereotype about Blacks' ability irrelevant to their performance on the task since, ostensibly, the task did not measure ability. A simple instruction, yes, but it profoundly changed the meaning of the situation. It told Black participants that the racial stereotype about their ability was irrelevant to their performance on this particular task. In the stroke of an instruction, the "stereotype spotlight," as psychologist Bill Cross once called it, was turned off.

    As a result, Black students' performance on this test matched the performance of equally qualified Whites. With the stereotype spotlight on, Blacks performed dramatically worse than Whites; with it off, they performed the same. Thus, stereotype threat of the sort that we argue characterizes the daily experiences of Black students on predominantly White campuses and in a predominantly White society, can directly affect important intellectual performances such as standardized test performance.

    But it has broader effects too. Stereotype threat follows its targets onto campus, affecting behaviors of theirs that are as varied as participating in class, seeking help from faculty, contact with students in other groups, and so on. And as it becomes a chronic feature of one's school environment, it can cause what we have called "disidentification"; the realignment of one's self-concept and values so that one's self-regard no longer depends on how well one does in that environment. Disidentification relieves the pain of stereotype threat by breaking identification with the part of life where the pain occurs, which necessarily includes a loss of motivation to succeed in that part of life. When school is the part of life where stereotype threat is felt--as for women in advanced math or African Americans in all areas--disidentification can be a costly and life-altering adaptation.   


continued in the next post...
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 12, 2006, 01:20:14 PM
This finding tells us two important things. The first is that the poorer standardized test performance of Black students may have two sources. One is more commonly understood: It is the poorer performance of some among this group who are not well prepared and perhaps not well identified with school achievement. The other, however, has not been well understood: The underperformance among strong, school-identified members of this group whose lower performance reflects the stereotype threat they are under.


    But these findings make a point of some poignance as well: The characteristics that expose this vanguard to the pressure of stereotype threat is not weaker academic identity and skills, but stronger academic identity and skills. They have long seen themselves as good students, better than most other people. But led into the domain by their strengths, they pay an extra tax on their investment there, a "pioneer tax," if you will, of worry and vigilance that their futures will be compromised by the ways society perceives and treats their group. And it is paid everyday, in every stereotype-relevant situation. Recent research from our laboratory shows that this tax has a physiological cost. Black students performing a cognitive task under stereotype threat had elevated blood pressure.

    This finding raises another point: Being a minority student from the middle-class is no escape from stereotype threat and its effect on standardized test performance or performance in higher education more generally. In the American mind we have come to view the disadvantages associated with being Black, for example, as disadvantages of social and economic resources and opportunity. This assumption is often taken to imply its obverse: That is, if you are Black and come from a home that has achieved middle-class status, your experiences and perspectives are no longer significantly affected by race. Our research shows quite clearly that this is not so. In fact, if being middle-class gave you the resources that helped you identify with school achievement, ironically, it may lead you to experience stereotype threat even more keenly. It is investment in the domain of schooling--often aided by the best resources and wishes of middle-class parents--that can make one, at the point of reaching the difficult items on the SAT, experience the distracting alarm of stereotype threat.

    All of these findings then, taken together, constitute a powerful reason for treating standardized tests as having limited utility as a measure of academic potential of students from these groups. But there are other reasons as well.

    Different experiences. The point here is that factors like race, social class, and ethnicity still shape the life trajectories and experiences of individuals in society and as a result, can have profound effects on test performance. For example, consider what being African American, even from the middle-class, can predispose a person to experience: Assignment to lower academic tracks throughout schooling; being taught and counseled with lower expectations by less skilled teachers in more poorly funded schools; attending school in more distressed neighborhoods or in suburban areas where they are often a small, socially isolated minority; living in families with fewer resources; and having peers who--alienated by these conditions--may be more often disinterested in school. Clearly these race-linked experiences are enough to lead students from this group to have lower scores on the SAT at the point of applying to college without any reference to innate ability. A similar scenario could be described for many Hispanic groups in this society and for American Indians (especially those living on reservations).

    If one thinks of all the relationships, experiences, and motivations that underlie good test performance as a river or confluence of influences, it is clear that some groups will have more access to this river than others. Accordingly, those with less access, by dint of the weaker academic and test performance skills this causes, will have lower test scores and thus more limited access to higher education. Of course, to the extent that the skills they lack are critical to success in school, this limitation of access is appropriate under the ideal of sending the most qualified students on to higher education. But it is important to stress, even here, that for these students, their lower test scores may reflect their limited access to the critical confluence of experiences as much as any real limitation in potential for higher education.


There you go.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 12, 2006, 01:22:39 PM
Hank Reardon said:

Quote
7. I completely agree with Red that schools should be more holistic and less dependent on the LSAT as an absolute measure of a person's intellect, but nowhere in this whole stereotype threat babble does she say why schools should consider race as any portion of this holistic picture.  Why not consider family background or socioeconomic status instead of race?  The reason of course is that no law school brags about having 30% of their applicants from single-parent homes, but they are careful to have a high enough percentage of minorities as to not embarass themselves.   

But I think you (and possibly red) are showing great naivete about the way affirmative action "as it stands" actually operates.  You may like to think that adcoms are huddled in a room somewhere contemplating the immense suffering of their law school's applicants, but the truth is that elite schools like Harvard are much more likely to admit a URM with borderline numbers above a poor white kid with similar numbers, simply because of the color of the applicants' skin.  You might like to think that the poor white kid will get a "holistic" approach, but in reality the school must maintain a certain percentage of blacks/hispanics and has no such mandate about the percentage of poor people it must admit.       

I understand what you're saying, but you are overlooking the obvious.  If you were really concerned about evening out advantages and disadvantages, you would embrace SES-based AA and not race-based AA.  If adcoms gave more weight to applicants who had underprivileged backgrounds (as I believe they should) and ignored race, blacks would probably still benefit (since more blacks than whites are poor).  But under this system of SES-based AA the unfairness of admitting Colin Powell's grandson over a poor white kid would be removed.

and J’s response:

Quote
“However, your argument here, as it's stated, seems to be completely overlooking the basis of red.'s argument: that race, in and of itself, can have a major deleterious effect on an applicant before the cycle even begins (while getting an education, writing the LSAT, etc.).  This is one area that SES-based AA cannot take into account.  This is the basis of the argument put forth in this thread. “

and Hank Reardon again:

Quote
MaraudingJ, it seems that everyone (including red) agrees that not all URM's suffer from this stereotype threat; in fact, even assuming the threat is indeed real, the threat obviously affects different blacks in different ways (how else to explain black people getting above 174?).  Once it is established that different URM's are affected differently by the stereotype threat, using the stereotype threat as a valid reason for race-based AA becomes just another stereotype itself.  Also, there is no reason to think that other classes of people (poor people, people from Arkansas, people from community colleges) aren't affected by the stereotype threat as well.  It would be impossible to thoroughly research all the ways different groups of people might be psychologically affected by various generalizations.  Therefore, the best way to assess LSAT scores is not to point to psychological research regarding decreased self-esteem of certain groups, but to take into account SES status and ignore psychological reasons why someone might not score well on the LSAT (since there is a plethora of such reasons, and all the members of a particular race cannot possibly share them all). 

Here is an excerpt from an empirical study that addresses the SES issue:

“One common reaction is to attribute the LSAT gap to the generally lower socioeconomic status of groups that have been the victims of discrimination.This is undoubtedly part of the explanation, as national data indicates that LSAT scores are related to the SES of candidates, while GPAs are not related to the SES of students.

However, SES is not a complete explanation of the racial and ethnic gap on the LSAT, as national data makes clear. White students’ LSAT scores vary according to socioeconomic status, with students from upper class SES scoring an average of 2.07 points higher on the LSAT than white students from lower middle class SES. Likewise, the SES advantage among students who are black or Mexican American over lower-middle class students of the same racial background
is of a similar magnitude. Among black applicants, the SES advantage is 3.32 points on the LSAT, among Mexican American applicants, the SES advantage is 3.54.17

Yet, the same data indicates that upper class black applicants have LSAT scores that average 5.62 points below those of lower middle class white applicants. Similarly, Mexican American applicants from the upper class score 1.46 points below lower-middle class white applicants (score scale 10-48).

In short, the LSAT data indicate that having an advantaged socioeconomic background can help on the LSAT, but so too can being white. More importantly, being advantaged socioeconomically does not offset being born black or Mexican American when it comes to taking the LSAT. What is interesting is the fact that GPAs, although they may reflect ongoing racial discrimination, do
not also display such a dual disadvantage.”


Source: Linda Wightman, The Threat to Diversity in Legal Education: An Empirical Analysis of the Consequences of Abandoning Race as a Factor in Law School Admission Decisions, 72 New York University Law Review 1, 42 (1997).


I ask you Hank Reardon -- you are willing to admit people from scioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds because a socioeconomically disadvantaged background adversely affects their index numbers. Given that being a URM has an even greater adverse impact on one’s numbers (over and above that of socioeconomic disadvantage), why would you not be willing to give the same kind of consideration to blacks, latinos and native americans?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 12, 2006, 01:26:14 PM
Southside wrote:

Quote
I will continue to make this point. The problem is in societal attitudes about minorities; it is not in the test. There is no evidence that the LSAT is a poor or biased test.

Also note: If you accept red's argument, which I do in part, you realize that the better the LSAT got, the more the stark the so-called "stereotype threat" would become. Presumably, if everyone universally acknowledged that the LSAT was a massive determining factor in law school success, the psychological pressure of stereotypes would be even more pronounced.

Classic Southside.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 12, 2006, 01:32:37 PM
red:

(I welcome any explanation at all, from anyone, that both explains this 6-4-2 point underperformance (after controlling for SES, GPA, school, and major) as well as (or better than) does the phenomenon of stereotype threat. Seriously -- I mean it. Give me that narrative, cite your data and sources (not opinion pieces or essays, but evidence), and I am ready to change my mind completely. “URMs and whites who score the same GPAs at the same schools and in the same majors and who otherwise have equal academic accomplishments and socioeconomic backgrounds have a 6-point differential in the LSAT because...)

you know the reason but you dont want to face the sad truth. blacks are simply not as intelligent as a whole as whites and asians are. giving examples of very intelligent blacks does not refute this, and these people shouldnt be offended by it. i am asian, and 6 feet tall. i dont get offended when people say that asians are shorter than whites as a whole. 

I see. Thank you for your contribution.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: H4CS on July 12, 2006, 01:37:02 PM
the sooner everybody accepts this the better everything will be. you only think there should be as many blacks in top law schools as their percentage of the population is because you think that they are equally capable of intellectual achievement. this requires manipulations that will never attack the root. the average black iq is 85, 15 points below the generla average. assuming a normal distribution, there will be blacks capable of the top positions in society, but whites and asians will always be more likely to take those positions even adjusting for population.

The scales have fallen from my eyes!
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 12, 2006, 02:20:39 PM
I think that's called "molting", Spaulding.

In other news, XOXO IS ONTO US!  AARRRGGGGHRHGHHGRHG 8o HLP!!1!onetwo!1one
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Burning Sands, Esq. on July 12, 2006, 03:21:45 PM

you know the reason but you dont want to face the sad truth. blacks are simply not as intelligent as a whole as whites and asians are. giving examples of very intelligent blacks does not refute this, and these people shouldnt be offended by it. i am asian, and 6 feet tall. i dont get offended when people say that asians are shorter than whites as a whole. 

 :o WOW   :o

Holy unsubstantiated claims, Batman! 

 

While the reasonably prudent person of any race or nationality would likely find this post offensive to say the least, we do value the 1st Amendment Freedom of Speech as much as possible on LSD.  Notwithstanding that proposition, should this post prove to be responsible for significant outbursts, flaring of racial tensions or other disruptive posts on the board, Prestigiouseo will have earned the distinct honor of being responsible for having this thread removed from the AA board and promptly placed in the hate board.

Have a nice day. :)
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: 2Lacoste on July 12, 2006, 03:25:19 PM

you know the reason but you dont want to face the sad truth. blacks are simply not as intelligent as a whole as whites and asians are. giving examples of very intelligent blacks does not refute this, and these people shouldnt be offended by it. i am asian, and 6 feet tall. i dont get offended when people say that asians are shorter than whites as a whole. 

 :o WOW   :o

Holy unsubstantiated claims, Batman! 

 

While the reasonably prudent person of any race or nationality would likely find this post offensive to say the least, we do value the 1st Amendment Freedom of Speech as much as possible on LSD.  Notwithstanding that proposition, should this post prove to be responsible for significant outbursts, flaring of racial tensions or other disruptive posts on the board, Prestigiouseo will have earned the distinct honor of being responsible for having this thread removed from the AA board and promptly placed in the hate board.

Have a nice day. :)





LMMFAO...let it go, my brother, let it go...
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 12, 2006, 03:26:37 PM

you know the reason but you dont want to face the sad truth. blacks are simply not as intelligent as a whole as whites and asians are. giving examples of very intelligent blacks does not refute this, and these people shouldnt be offended by it. i am asian, and 6 feet tall. i dont get offended when people say that asians are shorter than whites as a whole. 

 :o WOW   :o

Holy unsubstantiated claims, Batman! 

 

While the reasonably prudent person of any race or nationality would likely find this post offensive to say the least, we do value the 1st Amendment Freedom of Speech as much as possible on LSD.  Notwithstanding that proposition, should this post prove to be responsible for significant outbursts, flaring of racial tensions or other disruptive posts on the board, Prestigiouseo will have earned the distinct honor of being responsible for having this thread removed from the AA board and promptly placed in the hate board.

Have a nice day. :)


My $0.02: If it comes to that, I would recommmend deleting the offensive post.  This is too good of a thread to be hateraded.  It has a lot of interesting information in it, and guests should be able to view it, it should be searchable, etc.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 12, 2006, 04:01:07 PM

you know the reason but you dont want to face the sad truth. blacks are simply not as intelligent as a whole as whites and asians are. giving examples of very intelligent blacks does not refute this, and these people shouldnt be offended by it. i am asian, and 6 feet tall. i dont get offended when people say that asians are shorter than whites as a whole. 

 :o WOW   :o

Holy unsubstantiated claims, Batman! 

 

While the reasonably prudent person of any race or nationality would likely find this post offensive to say the least, we do value the 1st Amendment Freedom of Speech as much as possible on LSD.  Notwithstanding that proposition, should this post prove to be responsible for significant outbursts, flaring of racial tensions or other disruptive posts on the board, Prestigiouseo will have earned the distinct honor of being responsible for having this thread removed from the AA board and promptly placed in the hate board.

Have a nice day. :)


i suggest that you read the bell curve by murray and herrnstein as well as michael levin's why race matters: race  differences and what they mean. you need to prove that all racial groups are equally capable intellectually. it is not the default which can be shown by sub-saharan africa's inability to devise a written language pre-colonialization. 

a reasonably prudent person shouldnt find this offensive. are you offended by my statement that men are generally stronger and taller than women? if not, why? more than 53%% of americans agree with me. so you are claiming that more than half of americans aren't reasonable and prudent. the link is below.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/affirm/stories/aaop101597.htm


So, thorc, about that definition of racism...
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Burning Sands, Esq. on July 12, 2006, 04:31:33 PM

you know the reason but you dont want to face the sad truth. blacks are simply not as intelligent as a whole as whites and asians are. giving examples of very intelligent blacks does not refute this, and these people shouldnt be offended by it. i am asian, and 6 feet tall. i dont get offended when people say that asians are shorter than whites as a whole. 

 :o WOW   :o

Holy unsubstantiated claims, Batman! 

 

While the reasonably prudent person of any race or nationality would likely find this post offensive to say the least, we do value the 1st Amendment Freedom of Speech as much as possible on LSD.  Notwithstanding that proposition, should this post prove to be responsible for significant outbursts, flaring of racial tensions or other disruptive posts on the board, Prestigiouseo will have earned the distinct honor of being responsible for having this thread removed from the AA board and promptly placed in the hate board.

Have a nice day. :)


i suggest that you read the bell curve by murray and herrnstein as well as michael levin's why race matters: race  differences and what they mean. you need to prove that all racial groups are equally capable intellectually. it is not the default which can be shown by sub-saharan africa's inability to devise a written language pre-colonialization. 

a reasonably prudent person shouldnt find this offensive. are you offended by my statement that men are generally stronger and taller than women? if not, why? more than 53%% of americans agree with me. so you are claiming that more than half of americans aren't reasonable and prudent. the link is below.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/affirm/stories/aaop101597.htm


So, thorc, about that definition of racism...


what's thorc? yes, i do consider myself a racist, but racism isn't a bad thing. bigotry is bad and is what has negative effects on society.

No no, I think you misunderstood me - I'm not looking to debate you or people like you who share your racist sentiment.  Afterall, there are only so many billable hours in the day, good sir.  I'm just trying to keep the board flowing positively.  Please continue to pontificate on your racial superiority.  Just be cognizant of the objective offensiveness of your posts (not to be confused with your subjective belief that they are factual or benign in content).

Scipio - don't worry, perspective is in order.  I would never disrespect Red. in that manner.*



*EDIT: meaning, only the relevant portions would be banished to the twilight zone, not the entire thread.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: 2Lacoste on July 12, 2006, 04:39:06 PM

you know the reason but you dont want to face the sad truth. blacks are simply not as intelligent as a whole as whites and asians are. giving examples of very intelligent blacks does not refute this, and these people shouldnt be offended by it. i am asian, and 6 feet tall. i dont get offended when people say that asians are shorter than whites as a whole. 

 :o WOW   :o

Holy unsubstantiated claims, Batman! 

 

While the reasonably prudent person of any race or nationality would likely find this post offensive to say the least, we do value the 1st Amendment Freedom of Speech as much as possible on LSD.  Notwithstanding that proposition, should this post prove to be responsible for significant outbursts, flaring of racial tensions or other disruptive posts on the board, Prestigiouseo will have earned the distinct honor of being responsible for having this thread removed from the AA board and promptly placed in the hate board.

Have a nice day. :)


i suggest that you read the bell curve by murray and herrnstein as well as michael levin's why race matters: race  differences and what they mean. you need to prove that all racial groups are equally capable intellectually. it is not the default which can be shown by sub-saharan africa's inability to devise a written language pre-colonialization. 

a reasonably prudent person shouldnt find this offensive. are you offended by my statement that men are generally stronger and taller than women? if not, why? more than 53%% of americans agree with me. so you are claiming that more than half of americans aren't reasonable and prudent. the link is below.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/affirm/stories/aaop101597.htm



I studied under Levin.  Even he doesn't believe that *&^% he wrote.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: obamacon on July 12, 2006, 06:01:19 PM
Life is unfair and always will be unfair. However, there's nothing wrong with trying to make life fairer.

There is often plenty wrong with trying to make life more fair.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: thorc954 on July 12, 2006, 07:52:43 PM
Hey, Im still holding on to my definition of racism.  I was simply trying to throw that out there in the early stages of the thread so people wouldnt immediately call racism when someone opposed the OP's post.  I feel like that Prestigiouseo posts may be a  little off in the way he defines  intelligence though.  Blacks are undoubtedly less educated as  a whole then whites,  but this isnt a lack of intelligence, but merely the lack of economic resources and the lack of emphasis on education being placed on the African American community.  Also, just a comment about how Asians are always viewed as more intelligent then other racial groups.  It was simply because immigration was almost completely closed of to anything but intelligent Asians.  Therefore, the Asian immigrants valued education, and it is reflected in their off spring.  Now, in black culture in  American, with the acception  of new immigrants, they were completely prohibited from recieving educations, and it is often reflected in their children and grand children and black culture as a whole today.  Anyway, a proportionate number of blacks to whites should not necessarily be the case in law school though, because there are not a proportionate amount of blacks to whites that are necessarily at the same level intellectually as whites.  Fewer blacks go to college then whites. Among these, not all of them do well. There are good students and bad students as there are in the white population. Therefore, schools shouldnt be looking to fill a class, but they should be looking at the quality of the applicant. The numbers simply show that a proportionate number of blacks shouldnt be in the top law schools... Anyway, none of you guys really care to hear my opinion, so I will leave this thread to you guys that agree with red.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: philibusters on July 12, 2006, 08:54:56 PM
I am not sure quoting Claude Steele settles the issue that the data isn't being interpreted too far.  Like I said in my first post, if you google stereotype threat and browse around for ten minutes you will find lots of academics criticizing Steele.  Are they criticizing the experiment or the data?  No, they are criticizing Steele for stretching the results of the experiment more than the data properly allows, in other words, that long quote was really a fairly mainstream, but hotly contested hypothesis over what we can infer from the stereotype experiments.  It is important to recognize that when I and others said in our posts that the experiments can't explain the results of standardized test scores by itself, that is one interpretation of the data, and when Red says she thinks it does thats another interpretation of data (yeah, I aware she said there are other factors in another post, but she seems to think if not the sole explanation it explains most of the discrepancy).  The main point of this paragraph is that the data is up for interpretation, and a lot of social scientist while agreeing with the data, don't like Steele's interpretation of it, others do--you shouldn't think there is a right answer because at this point there isn't.

I don't know if Prestigiouseo is flaming or if he is serious, but it doesn't make much sense for white people to be smarter than black people.  The past two weeks I have been reading books on human evolution and one theme is the genetic similiarity of modern populations-the most mainstream theory has us emigrating from africa as recently as 50,000 years ago.  Infact a lot of genetic testing pushes that date closer, like that we all emerged from a small group of humans (population 3000) about 25,000 ago.  Genetic testing is fickle because the scientist assume genetic divergence is steady, so those numbers may be off, but in short we are so genetically similiar its not funny. 

Richard Leakey makes the point race is pretty superficial, within a few ten thousand years, the descendants of the white south africans would be black assuming they stayed where they are near the equator and only mated among themselves, and African American descendants would turn significantly lighter assuming they stayed where they were and only mated among themselves because pigmentation can change dramatically pretty quickly (think of this, the dark native of americans of south america, started out black in africa, lets say the migrated out of africa, at some point (we'll say 40,000 years ago) they had to be in europe to cross the landbridge at which time they were white, and as they moved down the americas back towards the equator they turned brown and given another ten thousand years, those at the equator would probably be black again)-Leakey's point was that race is extremely fickle, totally meaningless, and usually just used so people can categorize their prejudices.  Just to add to this point, I remember my history teacher saying something along the lines genetic testing shows most white people are closer related to west africans, than west africans are to some other type of africans that I can't remember, I probably butchered that stat all around because I am just remembering that from a lecture 3 years ago, but you get the point...race means nothing.

I am not convinced the stereotype threat accounts for the difference in standardize tests accounts for a lot of the differences in test scores.  I think socio-economic status and culture are the main two factors, but things like stereotype role and other psychological factors do make a difference. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 12, 2006, 09:19:37 PM
99.9+% similarity versus 98.5% similarity.  It's a gaping chasm. 

But that's the last time I respond to you.  red. expressed her wish that this thread remain free of the same drivel that's plagued the rest of this forum.  I aim to respect that wish.  You are now officially on my ignored list.  Flame on somewhere else. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SapientiaEstPotentia on July 12, 2006, 09:42:52 PM
Molecular biology is a vast discipline. There is far too much to know within the discipline to turn around a blab about molecular findings by simplifying.  Many blab as if firmly grasping the issues.  There’s one distinction worth knowing, I.e., the distinction between phenotype and genotype.  Just because a Mayan is apparently different than an Eskimo or Scandinavian it doesn’t mean that the genetic differences giving rise to the outer physical differences--the phenotypes--are just as different as the intra-cranial physical differences shaping their respective brains.  It’s not like some sub-human species evolved within a jungle where they encountered abstracta, making their lineage more prone to excel at modern standardized tests as compared to other sub-human species that have not? 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SapientiaEstPotentia on July 12, 2006, 10:02:03 PM
On a separate note, I once herd a rabbi say that AA can be justified via Christian theology.   But he didn’t explain how that might work.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: John Galt on July 12, 2006, 11:36:04 PM
red:

(I welcome any explanation at all, from anyone, that both explains this 6-4-2 point underperformance (after controlling for SES, GPA, school, and major) as well as (or better than) does the phenomenon of stereotype threat. Seriously -- I mean it. Give me that narrative, cite your data and sources (not opinion pieces or essays, but evidence), and I am ready to change my mind completely. “URMs and whites who score the same GPAs at the same schools and in the same majors and who otherwise have equal academic accomplishments and socioeconomic backgrounds have a 6-point differential in the LSAT because...)

you know the reason but you dont want to face the sad truth. blacks are simply not as intelligent as a whole as whites and asians are. giving examples of very intelligent blacks does not refute this, and these people shouldnt be offended by it. i am asian, and 6 feet tall. i dont get offended when people say that asians are shorter than whites as a whole. 



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Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SouthSide on July 13, 2006, 01:47:26 AM
Well, this thread sure got depressing to read. I don't think red's initial goal was to unmask the real motivations behind much anti-affirmative action rhetoric, but she has accomplished that.

If people were really so concerned about meritocracies, we'd see twice as much public outrage against legacy admissions than against affirmative action. For some reason, we don't.

I need a drink.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: John Galt on July 13, 2006, 07:30:46 AM
Well, this thread sure got depressing to read. I don't think red's initial goal was to unmask the real motivations behind much anti-affirmative action rhetoric, but she has accomplished that.

If people were really so concerned about meritocracies, we'd see twice as much public outrage against legacy admissions than against affirmative action. For some reason, we don't.

I need a drink.

we still live in a meritocracy. What anti-AA people are suggesting is that merit should be standardized, which is plain stupid. Basketball teams are decided by merit as well, but you wouldn't look for the same qualities in a Center than you look for in a point guard. Both type of players have had different experiences, different skills, different talents, etc. If you used the merit of a point guard to decide who should play center, you're going to have a pretty crappy team.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Nemesis on July 13, 2006, 07:36:27 AM
truth hurt?


Hardly. Your ignorance, now that hurts.


"blacks are simply not as intelligent as a whole as whites and asians are."

This would be a great thesis for your PS   :D
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: philibusters on July 13, 2006, 07:39:16 AM
This may come across as racist, but what role does culture play in the difference in standardized test scores.  For instance, one of the quotes that interpreted the stereotype threat very broadly cites the facts that lower class whites score slightly higher than middle class blacks.  Besides the obvious weeding out of the lower class whites-in other words if they made it that far they are probably smart because the less smart lower class peers had to drop out because they could have their parents pay their way--my main problem is that logic assumes all cultures are the same.  For example, most Asians immigrants come to this country dirt poor, but they push their kids so hard in school that they best out their more affulent white peers on standardized tests.  One poster in another thread I believed linked to an article that talked about Koreans--In this country they overachieve with very high test scores, in Japan they underachieve-obviously they are genetically the same-its something about the political social context and  culture that is influencing their performance.

Sometimes I wonder how correct Bill Cosby is too criticize the hip hop culture.  Part of his criticism is that he is old and probably doesn't understand the younger people and how they are expressing themselves and their creativity-on the other hand, I think he makes some solid points-According to him african americans don't push their kids as hard in school as other disadvantaged groups like Asians and that the high rate of single mothers make it hard for mothers and fathers to push their kids in school and help them with their schoolwork compared to families that have stable two parent homes.  In the end, while I think a lot of what Cosby says is blah blah blah, he is right to a degree that a lot of African American children are hurt by not having solid two parent homes, that strongly encourage and push their kids in schools.  I agree with Cosby that you get out of your children what you put in them. Remember this board is loaded with examples of urm's achieving really high standardize tests on avg., MENSA accepts a 163 on the lsat as equating to the top 2% of the population-and way way more of urm's on this board than 2% have achieved that score.  However, the difference in standardize tests are based on large amounts of people over wide specturms and the above mention culture aspects, along with racism in society, and psychology factors like stereotype threat to me seem to be the most likely elements responsible for the score discrepencies.

Plus, I am waiting for somebody to tell me how they account for the score discrepencies on the lsat using the stereotype threat experiment.  In that experiment they used SAT scores as a baseline, you would think the SAT score was affected by stereotype threat itself-so their experiment actually studied double stereotype threat??--the test demonstrated that the stereotype threat can influence performance, not that it does on a massive scale, not that the lsat is such a test-to me its weak that the testor is using the test to explain the discrepencies in the SAT score when they used SAT scores as a baseline in the test--I agree with the person who said some people in this thread are using the stereotype threat as a magic exlirir that can explain everything- I think stereotype threat probably does play some role in standardize testing, for example does play a role in standardize tests, maybe for example it can explain 1 of the 6 point difference, but for the majority of the difference I think we should look to culture and socio-economic factors.


By the way thanks to the person who made the distinction between phenotype and genotype-that was the point I was trying to get across by showing how the color of peoples skin can change within a relatively short time span by evolutionary standards (tens of thousands of years)--so that race is a bit of an artifical distinction.  However, I don't think I made that clear, but the other person stated what I was trying to say much more precisely.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: philibusters on July 13, 2006, 07:50:13 AM
Well, this thread sure got depressing to read. I don't think red's initial goal was to unmask the real motivations behind much anti-affirmative action rhetoric, but she has accomplished that.

If people were really so concerned about meritocracies, we'd see twice as much public outrage against legacy admissions than against affirmative action. For some reason, we don't.

I need a drink.

we still live in a meritocracy. What anti-AA people are suggesting is that merit should be standardized, which is plain stupid. Basketball teams are decided by merit as well, but you wouldn't look for the same qualities in a Center than you look for in a point guard. Both type of players have had different experiences, different skills, different talents, etc. If you used the merit of a point guard to decide who should play center, you're going to have a pretty crappy team.

I agree with the statement.  But some people don't think AA is used that way.  I think some schools do only look at race in the context of looking at the applicant in a holistic way, but lots of schools seem to use quotas, or even in Michigan undergrand admission process that was struck down, you got 20 out of 150 points for race, regardless of whether race has affected your life, added divesity to it, et cetera.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 13, 2006, 11:14:02 AM
I had asked a simple question: What could explain that, after controlling for socioeconomic background and academic achievement (as reflected by UGPA), there is a race-based 6-4-2 differential in LSAT scores among applicants for T14 schools?

Y'all are giving me reasons as to why minority kids in the general population don't achieve academically.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 19, 2006, 10:39:32 AM
So. Anyway.

Hopefully, we’ll progress by addressing the argument that I am setting forth rather than being waylaid by matters (why blacks disproportionately drop out of high school; why hispanic GPAs are lower than whites’, etc) which are not germane to the topic at hand.

So far, I have (quite strongly) suggested that admissions processses at the top-ranked schools over-rely on the LSAT, and that this overreliance is - in the absence of measures to correct that overreliance - sufficient reason for race-based affirmative action.

The bald facts - SES/GPA/School/Major-adjusted LSAT score distributions by race - show that the LSAT is not a race-neutral indicator. There is a 6-4-2 gap by race alone.

The question is “why?”, and the answers must be plausible -- i.e. they must fit  ALL of the facts available to us.

The explanation that best fits the facts is the one attributable to a stereotype threat effect.

Experimental studies have shown that it exists under particular  conditions:
1. a test that is presumed to be an “intelligence” or “intellectual aptitude” test;
2. a societal belief that certain classes of people (e.g. blacks) are “less intelligent” ;
3. self-identification of the test taker with that stereotyped class;
4. the test-taker’s awareness  of the stereotype
5. high motivation to succeed (i.e. to disprove to “not prove” the stereotype as true).

All of the experimental studies have had these (and only these) conditions in place. I suggest to you that  all five of these conditions exist for URMs taking the LSAT, and do not exist for non-URMs taking the LSAT. The testing conditions are therefore different, and the playing field therefore uneven.

I have yet to hear a plausible (read: data-/fact-based) challenge as to
a) the existence of this phenomenon; or
b) the applicability of this phenomenon to the situation facing URMs taking the LSAT.

Neither have I yet heard from any of you how it is that blacks, hispanics, and native americans score 6,4 & 2 points less than others after statistically equating their prior academic achievement and their financial access to test prep courses and materials.

----
philibusters, after suggesting over several posts about how google had helped him reveal the fatal flaw in the applicability of the stereotype phenomenon to the LSAT, eventually came up with this:

I am not sure quoting Claude Steele settles the issue that the data isn't being interpreted too far.  Like I said in my first post, if you google stereotype threat and browse around for ten minutes you will find lots of academics criticizing Steele.  Are they criticizing the experiment or the data?  No, they are criticizing Steele for stretching the results of the experiment more than the data properly allows, in other words, that long quote was really a fairly mainstream, but hotly contested hypothesis over what we can infer from the stereotype experiments.  It is important to recognize that when I and others said in our posts that the experiments can't explain the results of standardized test scores by itself, that is one interpretation of the data, and when Red says she thinks it does thats another interpretation of data (yeah, I aware she said there are other factors in another post, but she seems to think if not the sole explanation it explains most of the discrepancy).  The main point of this paragraph is that the data is up for interpretation, and a lot of social scientist while agreeing with the data, don't like Steele's interpretation of it, others do--you shouldn't think there is a right answer because at this point there isn't.

In other words, philibusters is saying that the stereotype threat effect does not explain all of the raw test-score gap. No *&^%. SES, differences in average academic achievement as reflected by GPA, and a whole bunch of factors explain the race gap in raw scores across all LSAT takers.  My argument is that the stereotype threat accounts for the gap ADJUSTED for all that stuff. That is why I am making the argument that schools should give consideration to race, as well as to SES etc, in making their admissions decisions.  Without this distinction between the raw score gap and the score gap adjusted for SES (or, for god’s sake, GPA), my argument would make NO sense at all.  Enough. I won’t repeat myself on this point again.
---

As I have said before, I am open to any view or argument that explains this discrepancy.  If it explains it in a manner that is consistent with all the facts that we have available, and in a manner that fits the facts better than the stereotype threat explanation does, I will change my mind.

However, just throwing out your opinion - “I feel that....”, without any analytic thought whatsoever, or without any actual information that runs counter to narrative presented here, won’t do it for me, and shouldn’t do it for you or for any one else. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 19, 2006, 10:51:48 AM
Moving on.

I haven’t yet sufficiently addressed a number of  questions w.r.t. the stereotype threat, the LSAT, the admissions process, & race-based affirmative action:

(i) if the LSAT is not a reliable indicator of academic achievement, preparation, or aptitude, why, then, does it predict law school GPA so well?

(ii) in the absense of the LSAT, what can law schools use to determine who will likely succeed, and how can they admit students without seeing a fall in academic standards?

Answering these questions is required to make the case that the LSAT is not only discriminatory, but also unjustifiably discriminatory: i.e. there is no academic rationale for it, or that the academic rationale is so very slight that it cannot justify wholesale discrimination by race.

Here is a three-part start to addressing these questions:


1. STEREOTYPE THREAT AFFECTS PERFORMANCE VIA TIME PRESSURE

In an earlier post, I cited the following research observation:


What exactly is happening under Stereotype Threat?

“In some of our experiments we administered the test of ability by computer, so that we could see how long participants spent looking at different parts of the test questions. Black students taking the test under stereotype threat seemed to be trying too hard rather than not hard enough. They reread the questions, reread the multiple choices, rechecked their answers, more than when they were not under stereotype threat. The threat made them inefficient on a test that, like most standardized tests, is set up so that thinking long often means thinking wrong, especially on difficult items like the ones we
used.”

and, it has physiological manifestations

A study (Blascovich, J., Spencer, S., Quinn, D., & Steele, C. (2001)). African-Americans and high blood pressure: The role of stereotype threat. Psychological Science, 12, 225-229) found that the blood pressure of black students performing a difficult cognitive task under stereotype threat was elevated compared with that of black students not under stereotype threat or white students in either situation.

“The LSAT, Law School Exams, and Meritocracy: The Surprising and Undertheorized Role of Test-Taking Speed by William D. Henderson* 976 Texas Law Review [Vol. 82:975]



Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 19, 2006, 10:54:46 AM
2. THE LSAT-LSGPA  CORRELATION [AND THE URM-MAJORITY DIFFERENTIAL IN EACH] IS PARTLY EXPLAINED BY TIME PRESSURE, INDEPENDENT OF KNOWLEDGE OR ABILITY


From: William D. Henderson, “The LSAT, Law School Exams, and Meritocracy: The Surprising and Undertheorized Role of Test-Taking Speed”  976 Texas Law Review [Vol. 82:975]

“Within the field of psychometrics, it is widely acknowledged that test-taking speed and reasoning ability are separate abilities with little or no correlation to each other. The LSAT is a univariate test designed to measure reasoning ability. Test-taking speed is assumed to be an ancillary variable with a negligible effect on candidate scores. This Article explores the possibility that test-taking speed is a variable common to both the LSAT and actual law school exams. This commonality is important because it may serve to increase the predictive validity of the LSAT. The author obtained data from a national and a regional law school and followed the methodology of a typical LSAT validity study, with one important exception: student performance was disaggregated into three distinct testing methods with varying degrees of time pressure: (1) in-class exams, (2) take-home exams, and (3) papers. Consistent with the hypothesis, the data showed that the LSAT was a relatively robust predictor of in-class exams and a relatively weak predictor of take-home exams and papers. In contrast, undergraduate GPA (UGPA) was a relatively stable predictor of all three testing methods.

The major implication of this study is that the current emphasis on time pressured law school exams increases the relative importance of the LSAT as an admission criterion. Further, because the performance gap between white and minority students tends to be larger on the LSAT than UGPA (the other important numerical admissions criteria), heavy reliance on time-pressured law school exams is likely to have the indirect effect of making it more difficult for  minority students to be admitted through the regular admissions process. The findings of this study also suggest that when speed is used as a variable on law school exams, the type of testing method, independent of knowledge and preparation, can change the ordering (i.e., relative grades) of individual testtakers.


The current emphasis on time-pressured law school exams, therefore, may skew measures of merit in ways that have little theoretical connection to the actual practice of law. Finally, this study found some preliminary evidence that the performance gap between white and minority students may be smaller on less time-pressured testing methods, including blind-graded, take-home exams. Definitive evidence on this issue will require a larger sample size.”



Same data, different report:  William D. Henderson “Speed as a Variable on the LSAT and Law School Exams”; Law School Admission Council Research Report 03-03 February 2004
:

“The sample is composed of recent graduates from two U.S. law schools: an elite national law school with high LSAT and UPGA scores and a regional law school with mid-range LSAT and UGPA scores. The primary difference between the two samples is a relatively low correlation between grades and LSAT scores in the national law school (.194) sample versus a fairly strong correlation between grades and LSAT scores in the regional law school sample (.446).

.... Notwithstanding this difference, the most significant commonality between the data sets is that the LSAT has its greatest predictive power on in-class exams. The correlation coefficients for LSAT were significantly lower as we moved from in-class exams to take-homes and papers.

...In the second phase of analysis, the disaggregated model was a better predictor of law school performance only in the national law school sample. Testing method actually accounted for a larger share of the variance than the LSAT (3.6% versus 2.5%). In contrast, the disaggregated model provided virtually no improvement in the regional law school sample. A careful examination of both samples suggests that the disparity between the two schools may be partially explained by significant differences in the proportion of each testing method. For example, the national law school utilized a much larger percentage of take-home exams and papers than the regional law school (35.2% versus 19.9%). Because the LSAT had its greatest predictive power on in-class exams, a larger proportion of take-home exams and papers reduced the importance of the LSAT as a predictor and increased the relative importance of UPGA. In both samples, UPGA emerged as a stronger predictor of performance on take-home exams and assigned papers. However, because of the large proportion of in-class exams in the regional law school sample (74.6% for years 1–3), the LSAT tended to dominate both the disaggregated and aggregated models.

.....A speed variable that affects both the LSAT and law school grades may also partially account for patterns in variance that have emerged on LSAT validity studies. For example, in a large-scale study recently published by the LSAC, Wightman (2000) found that the standardized LSAT beta weights (  LSAT ) in the traditional LSAT/UGPA regression equation tended to slightly drop after the first year, whereas the UGPA beta weights (  UGPA ) tended to increase, often at statistically significantly levels (Table 5, page 18). Although Wightman found that “the LSAT score and the UGPA, in combination, were related to cumulative LGPA at approximately the same level as they were related to first-year LGPA,” (2000, p. 2), this result occurred because of changes in the underlying beta weights between the year 1 and years 1–3, usually by increasing the weight assigned to UGPA. An earlier study by Powers (1982) reported similar findings, with the relative importance of UGPA as a predictor increasing during the second and third year of law school and the importance of LSAT gradually decreasing. Although Powers theorized that these findings may be explained by a variety of factors, including the possibility that UGPA reflects, in part, persistence and motivation, another explanation is that less time-pressured papers and take-home examsmay be more prevalent during the second and third years. In other words, the strength of correlation between the LSAT and law school grades may vary in proportion to the number of grades that are determined by speeded in-class exams.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 19, 2006, 10:55:55 AM
.......The legal academy’s emphasis on speed may also be relevant to the differential performance of white and minority students on both the LSAT and on actual law school exams. For example, Wightman and Muller (1990a) examined the number of unreached items on each section of the LSAT by ethnic subgroup and found a “particularly dramatic” speededness differential between African American, Puerto Rican, and Hispanic candidates. Similarly, in a study that examined speededness as a potential source of bias on the LSAT, Evans and Reilly (1976) found inconclusive evidence that black students may experience proportionately larger gains compared to whites when given additional time to complete the LSAT.

The hypothesis examined in this study is whether both the LSAT and traditional law school exams are affected by a significant speededness component. Yet, if the hypothesis is true, then a differential in testing speed among ethnic subgroups may be hard to discern from LSAT validity studies. In general, research on the LSAT has often presented some rather puzzling results regarding minority students. For example, several studies have documented the tendency of the LSAT to overpredict the performance of minority students during the first year of law school (e.g., Powers, 1977; Schrader & Pitcher, 1973, 1974; Wightman & Muller, 1990a, 1990b). Similarly, Wightman (2000) and Powers (1982) found that the LSAT tends to overpredict the performance of minority students during all three years of law school, though this tendency is reduced somewhat when UPGA is included in the regression equation. The problem of overprediction should be compared to the findings of Kidder (2001). After controlling for undergraduate school, major, and UPGA, Kidder found that minority students in the Boalt Hall applicant pool during the late 1990s scored on average between 3.6 and 9.1 points lower on the LSAT than their white counterparts.

Different rates of test-taking speed among minority subgroups may partially explain these patterns. For example, if minority students tend to be more affected by a speededness component and law school exams are even more speeded than the LSAT, then overprediction may result. Similarly, if most undergraduate testing methods are unspeeded, then differences in test-taking speed among minority subgroups may result in systematically lower LSAT scores even though the test takers had virtually identical UPGA from the same college in the same major. In terms of the present study, this explanation of minority subgroup performance would be supported if minority students perform significantly better on less time-pressured testing methods (take-home exams and papers) vis-a-vis white students.

Finally, a large speededness component on the LSAT may also be relevant to research on LSAT subscore discrepancies. Subscore discrepancies are performance differentials between the logical reasoning, analytical reasoning, and reading comprehension sections of the LSAT......

Similarly, because Stricker found that students with generally high LSAT scores are more prone to large subscore discrepancies on the analytical reasoning portion of the test, it may be possible that the national law school sample, which contains a very large proportion of high LSATs, may be relatively homogeneous in terms of reasoning ability but relatively heterogeneous in terms of student test-taking speed. Thus, within this population, we might expect larger changes in LSAT correlation coefficients when the LSAT is correlated to testing methods with short versus long time limitations."


3. THERE IS NO REASON TO BELIEVE THAT TESTING UNDER TIME PRESSURE HAS MUCH RELEVANCE TO ONE’S SKILLS AS A LAWYER (OR, EVEN, AS A LAW STUDENT)

......

“Blue Book exams clearly emphasize speed in performance. With some law professors, this emphasis stems from time constraints they impose on Blue Book exams for no particular reason, other than tradition. This emphasis also may stem from a conscious belief among many law professors that speed or quickness is important to many legal situations and should be measured by Blue Book exams.

In major part, however, this emphasis on speed stems from a more obscure source. ...
This source is the perceived need of many schools and professors to impose grading curves with many distinctions on examination performances in individual courses. Multiple grade categories can be generated and explained to students most easily by establishing the final exam as a race and then observing the order in which contestants cross the finish line. ... Yet, treating Blue Book exams as a race, while possibly a good measure of speed, is unsound as educational practice and may even fail to measure accurately the qualities it purports to measure” (Kissam 1989, p. 453).

.......In order to accurately contextualize the relationship between the LSAT and law school performance, it is important to distinguish between two concepts of test validity: predictive validity and construct validity.

Predictive validity, which is the threshold used in most LSAT validity studies, is concerned with the strength of the correlation between the predictor and the criterion measure. A consistent positive correlation is usually sufficient to establish predictive validity. In contrast, construct validity, which is much more difficult to establish, refers to the ability of a test to measure a specific trait (i.e., construct) possessed by the test taker. Construct validity formulates a clear theoretical description of the trait being measured (construct theory), which is relied upon to generate hypotheses about the test results; these results are then empirically tested. In essence, construct validity is a process that provides evidence that a test actually measures the individual characteristic it purports to measure.

In the context of the LSAT and law school testing methods, construct validity can be conceptualized at two distinct levels. On the first level, the LSAT is designed to measure acquired verbal reasoning and reading skills, which is a construct presumably relevant to law school success. The LSAT is therefore a test that is used to predict performance on future tests/exams and writing assignments administered during law school.

The second level of construct validity focuses on the relationship between law school testing methods and the intellectual tasks and abilities that are relevant to the practice of law. Law school testing methods are designed to measure acquired legal knowledge and analytical ability, which is a construct presumably relevant to the practice of law. However, while it may be argued that lawyers work under intense time pressure, it is unclear whether the time pressure of in-class exams accurately reflects the practice environment. Blue Book exams require a relatively rapid analysis written within a short time period (e.g., three hours). In terms of organization, quality of analysis, and polished prose, a student response on in-class exam is unlikely to resemble the type of work product that could be relied upon by a client, another lawyer, or a court. The time pressure of practice might be better described as managing various tasks and deadlines in order to produce legal work of sufficient quality to serve a client’s interests. For example, a lawyer might feel under tremendous time pressure because she has only ten days to submit a brief on a set of complex legal issues while also responding to other client demands. The time pressure is not encapsulated into discrete three hour doses; it is systemic. The upshot of this analysis is that performance on take home exams and papers may be a closer analogue to the practice of law. Thus, a sound construct theory of law school testing may be at odds with heavy reliance on in-class exams.


Source: William D. Henderson “Speed as a Variable on the LSAT and Law School Exams”; Law School Admission Council Research Report 03-03 February 2004

----


That’ll do for now. If people are still reading this thread and interested  in the discussion, I’ll carry on.

If, by now, you are seeing a parallel between this kind of justification for affirmative and Title VII ‘disparate impact” protections, we’re on the same page.

Apologies for the least-common-denominator level of the discussion so far.  I figure that things may become more nuanced, thoughtful and interesting from here on in.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: H4CS on July 19, 2006, 11:00:34 AM
Apologies for the least-common-denominator level of the discussion so far.  I figure that things may become more nuanced, thoughtful and interesting from here on in.

I doubt it, jerkface.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 19, 2006, 11:05:54 AM
Apologies for the least-common-denominator level of the discussion so far.  I figure that things may become more nuanced, thoughtful and interesting from here on in.

I doubt it, jerkface.

You never know. It could happen.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: H4CS on July 19, 2006, 11:17:01 AM
Apologies for the least-common-denominator level of the discussion so far.  I figure that things may become more nuanced, thoughtful and interesting from here on in.

I doubt it, jerkface.

You never know. It could happen.

Perhaps, but I think we're at a seasonal low for nuance.  I would bank instead on anger, misreadings, and poorly-thought-out positions which reveal nothing but their author's frustrations with entire groups of people.  And a side of fries.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 19, 2006, 11:22:36 AM

Perhaps, but I think we're at a seasonal low for nuance.  I would bank instead on anger, misreadings, and poorly-thought-out positions which reveal nothing but their author's frustrations with entire groups of people.  And a side of fries.

I timed this thread thinking the opposite  :-\

Anyway, I guess we'll see. Fries sound good, though, right about now.

Alright -- I'm out.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 19, 2006, 12:20:13 PM
Apologies for the least-common-denominator level of the discussion so far.  I figure that things may become more nuanced, thoughtful and interesting from here on in.

I doubt it, jerkface.

You never know. It could happen.

Perhaps, but I think we're at a seasonal low for nuance.  I would bank instead on anger, misreadings, and poorly-thought-out positions which reveal nothing but their author's frustrations with entire groups of people.  And a side of fries.

Dude, we'd be lucky if we got a side of fries.  That would actually be worth having.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 19, 2006, 12:38:02 PM
controlling for ses, ug major, and ug gpa does not control for innate intelligence. when i took the lsat in ug, I got 10 points higher than a friend of the same race, also asian, whose family had more money than mine. we had the same major, and his gpa was slightly higher, with a 3.8 over my 3.75.

you assume that those with the same major and ug gpa should have equal lsat scores, but this isnt the case.

OMG, you must be soooooooo way smarter than your friend!  Snap!
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 19, 2006, 12:44:01 PM
You know I agree with you all (though I must skip the fries), but I don't think this commentary from on high is making a productive discussion more likely, either.  If I were newer or less informed (or less delusional about my ability to run with the big kids), I would probably feel mighty uncomfortable sharing my criticisms or more speculative thoughts here.

(Just a bit of habitual sanctimony.  Don't mind me.)
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 19, 2006, 12:57:53 PM
I had asked a simple question: What could explain that, after controlling for socioeconomic background and academic achievement (as reflected by UGPA), there is a race-based 6-4-2 differential in LSAT scores among applicants for T14 schools?

Y'all are giving me reasons as to why minority kids in the general population don't achieve academically.



I would be more convinced if the research you cited also accounted for IQ as well as undergraduate institution, GPA, and SES status.

I'll let red., who surely has plenty more to say about IQ than I ( :D), speak for herself, but here's one thing to think about:

If it is the fact that the LSAT is supposedly an intelligence test that makes it subject to the stereotype threat, can you imagine an instrument of IQ that would provide an effective control for "innate intelligence" that would not merely reproduce the results?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 19, 2006, 01:06:56 PM
i like when people make claims like "blacks as a whole are less intelligent than whites".  it is actually a pretty good argument technique, because all subsequent posters who specifically respond to this point will attempt to debunk the claim, when it is not really necessary.

texas has a specific quota for texas residents.  i forget what it is, but only a certain percentage of the class can be from out of state.  now if i were to point out that the in-staters had lower test scores and GPAs, and further claim that texans were on the whole less intelligent than the rest of the country (I don't know this to be true, but I strongly suspect it) would i be able to rest on these statistics as though i had just brought up a killer point to which there can be no refutation?

no, because the point of these quotas is to prevent shutting off legal education to texans.  it is to make sure that legal education maintains relevancy to texas residents.  if people could just think of affirmative action as the analogue to this for the black community, we'd all be better off.

You know I agree with you, but I also think that the argument red. is making, that NOT having race-based affirmative action (or at least relying on the LSAT without adjusting for its bias) is inherently discriminatory, is worthwhile/interesting.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 19, 2006, 01:14:41 PM
I had asked a simple question: What could explain that, after controlling for socioeconomic background and academic achievement (as reflected by UGPA), there is a race-based 6-4-2 differential in LSAT scores among applicants for T14 schools?

Y'all are giving me reasons as to why minority kids in the general population don't achieve academically.



I would be more convinced if the research you cited also accounted for IQ as well as undergraduate institution, GPA, and SES status.

she set up a clever argument, although it is false. if you ask her to control for iq, she can say that iq tests will suffer from the same stereotype threat.

The racial difference in IQ begins from age 5.  I doubt even Red would claim that 5 year olds who can barely read are subject to the stereotype threat. 

I don't see why.  Kids know a lot about gender and racial difference by this age, if you put any stock in cognitive psychology (which YOU apparently do).

Without conceding your point (I don't know enough about stereotype threat and how it works or IQ tests and how they work, and I'll defer to the experts), I just want to ask if the racial IQ differential you're talking about here is also controlled for SES and family academic achievement, etc.  Otherwise, it seems entirely irrelevant.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 19, 2006, 01:16:05 PM
Believe what you want, but unlike LSAT scores, IQ tests have been shown to be relatively constant throughout a person's life, which indicates that they are much less vulnerable to environmental influences than other tests. 

Uh, yeah, either that, or environmental influences (class, academic opportunities, etc.) are relatively stable throughout most people's lives.  I tend to believe the latter.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: H4CS on July 19, 2006, 02:10:07 PM
Quote from: Chief Runs-With-Premise link=topic=64541.msg1565206#msg1565206

But I do find it interesting that I have never seen a YHS admit complain about AA.  It's always Columbia or other T14 admits who blame blacks for their inadequacies. 

In general I agree with you and I think it's for obvious reasons.  Most of these people have inflated senses of self and think that they are one of the smartest if not the smartest person they know, usually due to low competition.  I'd point out that students from HYP undergrad who end up at Columbia don't usually see themselves this way as they know friends who got into HYS for law school and call tell the differences between them and their more qualified friends (or if they don't see the difference, realize that there is a certain amount of luck and randomness in the whole thing).  Strangely enough, Alec, you're in a perfect position to feel this way, but you've managed to avoid the idiocy trap, congrats.

One who didn't was our old friend frogger, who bitched about having to go to Harvard instead of Yale because, boo hoo, he wasn't black.  He deleted out, but you can see his posts quoted in the Yale Obsession page. (And yes, I know this guy, we've met a few times)

I'll be straight up- after my Yale waitlist, I was mildly irritated by AA. Certainly, I don't begrudge anyone who used it to get in their admissions, for I used every advantage at my disposal, some of which were unique (for example, I had a summer where I could set my own schedule, so was able to really orient my life around LSAT studying and rest up before taking them, and it paid dividends- few have that advantage, so it's unfair of me to parade around with my LSAT score like some sort of intellectual priapus).

That said, the frustrating thing is that *nothing* I do can gain me the AA advantage. I was heavily involved with my extracurriculars in my college, won a postgrad fellowship (and had a famous political scientist who worked with me during that fellowship and who wrote one of my recs publicly describe me as 'gifted'), aced the LSATs, worked my ass off in my classes in college (my GPA splits were roughly 3.5/4.0 first half vs. second half of my career- I went through a fairly poor public school system until college and had trouble adjusting to ivy-level competition at first), worked a job to pay for my expenses in college (senior year I worked Friday and Saturday nights, sacrificing my social life, because I knew that was the only time I could guarantee having nothing else scheduled)- and still got waitlisted at the two hardest schools to gain admission to. And I know that if I did have the URM advantage, I'd be admitted everywhere. Or as one of my friends more bluntly put it when I was bitching about the Yale waitlist, 'They'd rather have you be 169, 3.6 and black'.

And preemptively:

1) YES, I know I got into Harvard. Thank you for pointing out I have no reason to complain. I'm just making a point here.

2) YES, I'm familiar with the arguments for AA. That said, I think racial injustice would be better addressed by a far more comprehensive program which addresses the underlying socio-economic inequalities on a broader, more systemic level. I think AA itself is only a palliative, and lets white people feel good about themselves even as our society turns itself into a stratified parody of justice.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: BPM on July 19, 2006, 02:27:52 PM

whatever the effect, it's obviously a form of social anxiety.

What is ironic is indicating anxiety may exist in a person, actually makes their performance worse.  So while the 'stereotype threat' goals are commendable, the effect of making it more widely known is likely to make the disparity even greater.  We can thank our liberal friends for that.

and no, it doesn't happen to blacks exclusively... do a google search on test anxiety as a form of social phobia.

HTH

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 19, 2006, 03:00:29 PM
I never said that a black and a white person of the same SES status, GPA will definitely have different IQ's...all I'm saying is that given what we know about differences in IQ between races, the possibility exists and that red's research did not account for it.


Do you see any merit at all in the argument that she has set out? Having read what she has posted, do believe that there may be a stereotype effect with respect to the LSAT, and do you think that this may account for some of the adjusted difference in LSAT scores?

Honestly I don't know.  If I saw data that included SES status, GPA, undergraduate institution, AND IQ, and whites still scored 6 points better than blacks, then yes, I would give some credence to the stereotype threat.  However, even if the stereotype threat were undeniably real, I still don't think that it would offer a very good justification for race-based AA (since it seems very paternalistic). 

Hey, HR, I PMed you by the way, about the IQ stuff, and I'm definitely curious to see what kind of stuff you've got that adequately controls for SES factors.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Hank Rearden on July 19, 2006, 03:11:16 PM
Honestly I don't know.  If I saw data that included SES status, GPA, undergraduate institution, AND IQ, and whites still scored 6 points better than blacks, then yes, I would give some credence to the stereotype threat.  However, even if the stereotype threat were undeniably real, I still don't think that it would offer a very good justification for race-based AA (since it seems very paternalistic). 

I'm not sure that I completely understand the paternalism argument. If the stereotype effect exists, it means that the LSAT is (at least to some extent) a faulty test. How does correcting for a test that doesn't work properly translate to paternalistic behavior?

Or, do you mean that instead of AA you'd rather see some action to correct the test itself, rather than correcting for the test?

Well that's just the problem...if you follow red's logic, there is NO WAY the LSAT could ever be "corrected" as long as blacks did worse than whites.  This is the part I find paternalistic: it is basically saying that blacks are dominated by this stereotype threat and that there is nothing they can do about it.  I just don't like arguments that go like this because it takes all control/responsibility out of the hands of the people who need to improve. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 19, 2006, 03:17:20 PM
Honestly I don't know.  If I saw data that included SES status, GPA, undergraduate institution, AND IQ, and whites still scored 6 points better than blacks, then yes, I would give some credence to the stereotype threat.  However, even if the stereotype threat were undeniably real, I still don't think that it would offer a very good justification for race-based AA (since it seems very paternalistic). 

I'm not sure that I completely understand the paternalism argument. If the stereotype effect exists, it means that the LSAT is (at least to some extent) a faulty test. How does correcting for a test that doesn't work properly translate to paternalistic behavior?

Or, do you mean that instead of AA you'd rather see some action to correct the test itself, rather than correcting for the test?

Well that's just the problem...if you follow red's logic, there is NO WAY the LSAT could ever be "corrected" as long as blacks did worse than whites.  This is the part I find paternalistic: it is basically saying that blacks are dominated by this stereotype threat and that there is nothing they can do about it.  I just don't like arguments that go like this because it takes all control/responsibility out of the hands of the people who need to improve. 

"need to improve"?  I'm sure this isn't exactly what you meant.

I think you're hitting at an important issue, that thwarting the pervasive racism that underlies the stereotype threat is a better plan/more important goal than correcting this one instrument, but while I work on getting my pigs to fly, I don't see what's wrong with trying to put some hay in the sty. 

IIRC, red. identified some elements of the test that seemed to exacerbate the stereotype threat (time pressure, calling it a measure of "intelligence"), and if these are, indeed, the mechanics of its bias, I can imagine an alternate law school admissions test that would be less vulnerable to the stereotype threat.  But I don't know.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: BPM on July 19, 2006, 03:56:46 PM

whatever the effect, it's obviously a form of social anxiety.

What is ironic is indicating anxiety may exist in a person, actually makes their performance worse.  So while the 'stereotype threat' goals are commendable, the effect of making it more widely known is likely to make the disparity even greater.  We can thank our liberal friends for that.

and no, it doesn't happen to blacks exclusively... do a google search on test anxiety as a form of social phobia.

HTH


It doesn't help.

She saying that the effects of the stereotype threat are something additional to those of the ordinary anxiety that is otherwise presumably randomly distributed across the entire population, regardless of race. [From my reading of what she has posted, it appears that the symptoms are different, too].

You are left with the following problem: either "social anxiety" is evenly distributed across races when it comes to taking tests of this kind, or it isn't. If it is, how to account for the phenomena currently explained by the stereotype threat? If it isn't evenly distributed, and falls most heavily on "URMs", how does this help to undermine her argument?

"Indicating anxiety may exist in a person actually makes their performance worse". Is this true? Source and cite if you can.

Also, the implication that it should go undiagnosed is baffling since it relies on the quite obvious unstated assumption that nothing can be done about it. Is that true also, or should I google to find out?


Take a step back a sec.  For whatever reason, this form of test anxiety which affects all groups regardless of race, was given the catchy label of stereotype threat so that only a subset were helped out. 

This blatantly ignores white and other candidates, not within the URM group who also experience test anxiety.  It appears this anxiety is higher in URM groups than whites, but is certainly present in white candidates as well. 

Considering distributions, as you mentioned.  Let's say this level of anxiety is greater in URM candidates (say 40%) than whites (say 10%).  If there are 4 times more white candidates, then a similar number of people in both groups are affected by this  phenomena.  In an effort for more fairness to the URM candidates, it becomes grossly unfair to those white test-takers equally affected.  Furthermore, as justification for AA by raw numbers, it becomes even more unfair.

An additional point, if you make a gross generalization that all or the vast majority of URM applicants are affected by the stereotype threat and should receive a boost of X points on the LSAT, this is going to become common knowledge at some point.  You've   hypothetically established as fact to the next batch of URM test takers that they perform X points less and the reason they do so is because of test anxiety.  So they obsess and obsess about not becoming anxious during the test.  (This effect was already established earlier as those who cared the most took the biggest hit)  Now those who would not have been affected are caught trying to avoid test anxiety.

So the irony, is the effect of stating the stereotype threat only occurs within URMs, is more damaging than the help one was originally trying to afford them.  It's essentially a negative labelling process, almost a blatant act of instituional racism of which it was trying to remedy! 

When you call it what it really is, test anxiety, it's something people of all groups can correct, but by doing so the justification for AA becomes weak.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: BPM on July 19, 2006, 06:47:52 PM

Three points, then:

1. You're saying that if stereotype threat is just a fancy name for regular test anxiety, and if it is distributed in such a way as to fall most heavily on URMs, that accounting for this by giving URMs with lower LSAT scores extra consideration is actually grossly unfair to those relatively few white applicants who also suffer froom test anxiety but receive no such consideration.

First (and this is crucial) the idea that the stereotype threat is just test anxiety is belied by the experimental evidence that was cited at the beginning of this thread. The subjects' performance suffered only when exposed to a negative stereotype; otherwise they were proficient test takers. It is hard to square that evidence with your claims.

Second, it is curious to me that you seem especially troubled by the idea that applications of whites may not receive the same extra scrutiny in cases where there is a discrepancy between GPA and LSAT, but (apparently) not so much troubled when blacks, hispanics, etc are the ones who, under a system without affirmative action, would not receive such extra care. Or am I misunderstanding you?



2. You're making an argument that there shouldn't be an automatic 6, 4, 2 boost to the LSAT scores of URMs.

I can't find anyone (other than you, of course) who has made such a suggestion. I think you're shadow-boxing on this one.



3. You are concerned that in the process of discussing ways of making the admissions process better, we may actually be making matters worse.

I find this unconvincing. Her proposal, it seems to me, is not to talk about the stereotype threat and then leave the admissions process be, but to change the admissions system altogether. If you can suggest ways of changing the system without first discussing what, if anything, is wrong with it, that would be great. Otherwise, I fail to see how this objection of yours is an important concern.


Regarding Point #1.  I never stated it, so we're probably discussing different undertones.  We already have an affirmative action system in place that works effectively to provide decent representation of URMs.  The justification is quite simple, honest, and effective: representation. 

To change this justification to one based on a phenomena that affects all groups, test anxiety, yet only provides a boost for URM candidates is grossly unfair.  Note in my previous post, the percentages may be higher in URMs, but the absolute numbers may not differ, since there are a larger number of white candidates applying.

whether stereotype threat is a form of test anxiety can be cleared up pretty quickly with a google search on 'stereotype threat anxiety.

for example:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=11414722&dopt=Abstract

(many others)


Point 2:  It may be shadowboxing, but that is an implicit argument.  If the LSAT is not an accurate measure of URM performance due to a stereotype effect, and this stereotype threat is assumed across the board for most URMs, if not for a numerical inaccurate reflection of LSAT score, then what is the relevancy of even discussing the stereotype threat?  The threat argument shifts the focus of AA justification away from diversity back to numerical criteria.

Point 3.  This is related to point #1.  Why is a change in the admissions policy needed?  The current system based on representation works adequately.  A shift from representational basis to one that tries to correct LSAT numbers or some other objective criteria is likely to still fail.  As per the unconvining argument; taken to the extreme, if a stereotype threat became pervasive in an already cutthroat  law school admissions process,  a new stereotype of inability to think under pressure is created.  That stereotype has implications far outside of the admissions process.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: thorc954 on July 19, 2006, 07:14:36 PM
 As per the unconvining argument; taken to the extreme, if a stereotype threat became pervasive in an already cutthroat  law school admissions process,  a new stereotype of inability to think under pressure is created.  That stereotype has implications far outside of the admissions process.


[/quote]

Im not arguing anything here either way, but I have a simple question.  Obviously sterotype threat is applied to sats and the like, but do believers in the theory also use it to explain gaps in GPA? It seems like all to often URMs with substandard GPAs and lsats(which when adjusted may fit the range) are admitted to schools. How do adcomms explain this gap? This is an honest question and non-intended to suggest anything or incite anyone. I honestly just dont know what justification there is for this.  I did a long research paper about racial bias in standardized testing and the implications, but I have done no research into gpa discrepancies.  Anyway, any clarification would be appreciated.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 19, 2006, 08:23:13 PM
Either way, you're still a bigot.

[/derail thread]
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: H4CS on July 20, 2006, 10:15:20 AM
extending the length of each section to 45 minutes completely defeats the purpose of the test. the idea is that it is hard to finish in 35 minutes. the vast majority of test takers cant do it. look at the math gre. nearly 10% get a perfect score. is that what you want?

Oh, so that's the purpose of the test.  And I've been saying that the LSAT is too easy for quite some time and that it's highly susceptible to being gamed, which most likely furthers these divisions.  Making the test longer and harder seems to be the way to go.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: H4CS on July 20, 2006, 10:54:45 AM
it might be easy for you, but its not for most people. the average person getting a 151, do you think they are finishing each section? you can make it longer and harder, but the poster earlier was calling for it to be longer without being harder.

It's getting harder and harder to believe you're a 2L anywhere, not that it matters, your arguments are *&^%.  I'm thinking of writing a longer response to red, as I'm still not comfortable using stereotype to explain away all racial difference or its presence to justify AA.  The 6-4-2 spread alone should justify AA in merely leveling the field to compensate for a biased test.  Posters like you, however, get in the way of any worthwhile discussion.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 20, 2006, 12:21:00 PM
I would be interested to hear something about differential item functioning analysis and racial-ethnic bias if someone who has read all the studies could talk about that a bit.  Since we are talking about the difficulty level of the test -- and specifically making it less time-sensitve but more difficult in order to make it more egalitarian -- I thought this might be a relevant aside.  If you disagree, it wouldn't be the first time I've been ignored, so no worries.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 20, 2006, 12:22:28 PM
it might be easy for you, but its not for most people. the average person getting a 151, do you think they are finishing each section? you can make it longer and harder, but the poster earlier was calling for it to be longer without being harder.

It's getting harder and harder to believe you're a 2L anywhere, not that it matters, your arguments are *&^%.  I'm thinking of writing a longer response to red, as I'm still not comfortable using stereotype to explain away all racial difference or its presence to justify AA.  The 6-4-2 spread alone should justify AA in merely leveling the field to compensate for a biased test.  Posters like you, however, get in the way of any worthwhile discussion.

Jesus Christ.  Why has it taken 21 pages for someone to FINALLY come up with this point?  I was thinking I'd have to do it myself.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 20, 2006, 12:28:00 PM
it might be easy for you, but its not for most people. the average person getting a 151, do you think they are finishing each section? you can make it longer and harder, but the poster earlier was calling for it to be longer without being harder.

It's getting harder and harder to believe you're a 2L anywhere, not that it matters, your arguments are *&^%.  I'm thinking of writing a longer response to red, as I'm still not comfortable using stereotype to explain away all racial difference or its presence to justify AA.  The 6-4-2 spread alone should justify AA in merely leveling the field to compensate for a biased test.  Posters like you, however, get in the way of any worthwhile discussion.

Jesus Christ.  Why has it taken 21 pages for someone to FINALLY come up with this point?  I was thinking I'd have to do it myself.


I thought Spaulding said so back in the day, too.  But of course.

The thing is, red. is trying to speak to an audience of skeptics here.  The skeptics demand that the instrument be shown to have some kind of intentional racial bias -- or at least some kind of racial bias that can be accounted for by something other than "intelligence." Personally, I wouldn't have chosen to start down this path, but I think it's admirable enough that she did.  I just hope we haven't shifted ground too far.  I imagine some of these people believe that if they can effectively critique "stereotype threat" (haven't seen it yet from the anti-AA set), they will shut down all calls for AA.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: H4CS on July 20, 2006, 12:37:05 PM
Jesus Christ.  Why has it taken 21 pages for someone to FINALLY come up with this point?  I was thinking I'd have to do it myself.

Look, I think it's elementary but that's not what red is interested in arguing.  Here's my take.

The LSAT has shown to be racially biased.1  The only way to argue that there is no problem in having a test which has such a strong racial bias seems to be to believe that in racist biology.2  My point above is that AA can be seen primarily as a corrective not for larger social forces but for a biased test.

red's whole thread is dedicated to explaining how these larger social forces act to make the LSAT biased.  This is worthwhile because many people who do not support race-based AA and have taken the LSAT do not see how it is possible that it could be prejudiced against certain groups (or in favor of others).   To many test-takers, the LSAT seems race-neutral and thus AA is not necessary to correct it.  red has tried to show how that is not the case.  Most of her critics have danced around this.

1It is also biased in terms of class and other measures.  This is why it's nonsensical to me that people legitimately argue that they believe in SES based AA but not racially based AA.  They are different problems and need to be studied and addressed as such.
2Honestly, you people, go @#!* yourselves.  If you think that race and intelligence are extant, meaningful, biologically-based phenomena, then you have a lot of learning to do before you go to law school.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: H4CS on July 20, 2006, 01:19:57 PM
im glad to see that you have provided evidence for all races having equal intelligence. your response is purely faith based. you dont think its fair that some races would be less intelligent, so you deny the possibility and cuss out anyone who disagrees.

I'll prove that all races have equal intelligence the day you prove that all angels can move through the ether at the exact same speed.

Study up on the history of biology and then come back when you're ready to hang out with the big kids.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 20, 2006, 02:42:53 PM
im glad to see that you have provided evidence for all races having equal intelligence. your response is purely faith based. you dont think its fair that some races would be less intelligent, so you deny the possibility and cuss out anyone who disagrees.

I'll prove that all races have equal intelligence the day you prove that all angels can move through the ether at the exact same speed.

Study up on the history of biology and then come back when you're ready to hang out with the big kids.

mark, you have the onus of proof reversed. faith is believing something when there is no evidence for it or worse, evidence that shows the opposite. there is evidence that all races are not capable of equal intellectual achievement. this can be shown through iq tests that show blacks a full 15 points below whites, and 18 points below asians. sub-saharan africa never had a written language before settlers from europe. even today, it is a mess. even accounting for ses, blacks have a less sharp mental accumen.

believing that blacks are capable of the same level achievement as whites and asians in spite of all this evidence is closer to believing in angels.


The reason we know you're a flame is that you pointedly ignore every crucial point in the responses of others.

H4CS told you to study up on "the history of biology".

The point there is to remind you that

(A) the same arguments about "written language" have already been used by racists in the past, and they've already been discredited -- "written language" bears no significant correlation with "natural intelligence";

(B) IQ tests in their myriad forms, while useful in an extremely narrow sense, are universally flawed in several ways, including (but not limited to):

1. age discrimination
2. cultural bias
3. arbitrary denominators for intelligence types, and arbitary exclusion of others
4. socio-economic discrimination
5. the four food groups

(But then, we all have to remind ourselves the the four food groups @#!* with everything, not just the IQ test.)

(C) Sub-Saharan Africa's "mess" has almost nothing to do with intelligence, and almost everything to do with cultural practices, world-views, and earlier European influence and instigation.


Flame on.  Just don't expect to be taken seriously.  I only took the time to write this so that the one or two meek souls who may have found you slightly convincing realize that this truly is just the work of a troll.

Please.  Let red.'s thread run its course.  Stop throwing it off its tracks.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 20, 2006, 02:50:57 PM
It's amazing how similar both yours and Red's arguments are.  Claiming that blacks are simply incapable of doing as well as whites on intelligence tests removes responsibility from black people since if the reason for their inferior scores were genetic, there would be nothing they could do to improve their scores.  On the other hand, Red says that since some people think lowly of black intelligence and since some black people internalize these stereotypes, intelligence tests are biased against blacks and therefore blacks should be expected to do poorly, which once again removes responsibility.

Those two aren't related at all.  Your argument makes blacks responsible for a psychological internalization that most don't even know exists.  They don't know it's happening to them.  In fact, I'd guarantee you that a great majority of black intelligence test takers walk out and take their results as due course -- they assume they're inferior, and carry (therefore disseminating) this attitude with them for the rest of their lives.

This doesn't remove responsibility from blacks to continue to put in effort.  That choice not to do so is a poor one, and it would be their own to make.  What it does do is point out that the performances of blacks and whites are not to be directly compared on these tests for real, tangible reasons. 

Blacks shouldn't be expected to do poorly.  Their results just aren't germane with those of white test takers, and the reason isn't because they're less intelligent -- it's because there is psychological trauma involved.

I think Red's point all along has been that the 6-4-2 split should justify some version of AA (in fact that is the title of the thread).  Keep in mind that the LSAT is only biased if it underpredicts black performance in law school.  Is that really the case?  We know (or supposedly know) from the data that Red has presented that blacks with similar SES and GPA's as whites score worse than whites on the LSAT, but do we know that these blacks then go on to do as well in law school as the whites to whom they were compared?  That seems like it would be a crucial fact, and I would be curious to see any evidence regarding this.     

Best post you've made.  I think this is a valid and crucial line of inquiry.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: thorc954 on July 20, 2006, 03:02:29 PM
Anyone have any idea how blacks IQs in Europe and other countries without such an intense history of racisms relate to their white counterparts? I think this would go a long way toward one or the others arguement. Prestiigiouseo, have you ever read The Negro? I think it is one of the few books I managed to find the time for during college. While the statements are jumbled and some are exagerated it goes far at linking European and African cultures.  Egyptians had a written language and many of their kings were black.  The developements of Africa directly mirror the developments of Europe. 

However, I will still disagree with AA because I feel like this stereotype threat may be lacking in some founding.  I dont believe that blacks and whites do differently on standardized tests for no reason whatsoever.  I believe that blacks as a whole are less educated in this country then whites.  This is based on the differences in  culture which may very well have to do with the pre-concieved notion of inferiority or it may simple stem from poor role models.  There are very educated blacks and very idiotic whites and vice versa.  However, I feel something is lacking in AA.

Also, extending the time frame for the exam would defeat the purpose of the test. It is intended to judge your performance under pressure. Extending the test would remove pressure and simply test intelligence. Intelligence isnt something I believe the test is actually intended to necessarily address. There are plenty of people that could pull 180s with the sections extended.



Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 20, 2006, 03:21:47 PM
biology doesnt prove anything. all it shows it that miniscule differences in dna can make for huge differences in human traits.

Sure it does.  Only, racial discriminators are null and void.

a written language certainly is correlated with intelligence.

Man, it's fun making claims without evidence.  Did you know that 78% of sharks subscribe to Reader's Digest? 

i just love how you blame africa's mess on european imperialism.

I sure as hell didn't.  I said it was a factor.  And it most certainly was.  And, for a vast multitude of reasons (including but not nearly limited to social factors, cultural factors, geography, climate, continental history, and extent of involvement), Africa's situation cannot be properly compared with...

somehow, that doesnt explain why australia, the us, canada, hong kong, india, and china arent all in shambles.

See above.  I'm not even going to start on Australia, the US and Canada.  Comparatively, there were almost no indigenous peoples to deal with, and adaptation to conditions was much easier -- they're not even similar enough to compare seriously.  For India and China (including Hong Kong), I refer you back to my previous post.  I'm not hashing it out again -- I've already done so on a previous thread.  If you're determined to see things in simple black and white, there's no point in me tiring out my fingers (and yes, the pun was intended).

yes, africa's culture sucks too, but it is my belief that the culture is indicative of a lower average intelligence.

Again, pure troll flame-bait.  "Africa's culture sucks"?  What the hell does that mean?  Do you really expect us to continue taking you seriously?

your mistake is assuming that the two have nothing to do with each other.

Your mistake is that you have no proof that they do.  And you're not going to find it, either.  Unless you continue to use that same discredited racist schpiel that you stole from those early twentieth century biology textbooks.  Hence H4CS's post.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 20, 2006, 03:29:36 PM
whats asinine is to say that they are as intelligent as whites and asians without any evidence for this. all available evidence dictates the opposite in fact.


This is pure bull.  You have provided none of this "evidence".  That's because you don't have this "evidence".  That's because this "evidence" doesn't exist.

This is, officially, my last response to you.  I don't know why I even bothered replying to a troll in the first place.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 20, 2006, 03:51:06 PM
Holy *&^%!  Did you just introduce a bit of EVIDENCE here?  You're going to blow the guy's mind!


Thank you for your patience while this thread deteriorated into standard fare, folks.  We now return you to your scheduled broadcast: RED.'S VERY SPECIFIC THREAD ABOUT STEREOTYPE THREAT.
 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: thorc954 on July 20, 2006, 04:02:19 PM
Leo, have you ever actually used "git er done" in conversation in the past. I was discussing  on some forum that white southerners actually use it in conversation, but I was wondering if anyone outside my redneck circle did.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: thorc954 on July 20, 2006, 09:31:17 PM
You make a good point halfie. We want soft factors when it will help us and hate it when it hurts us.  
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: obamacon on July 21, 2006, 01:02:19 AM
Red,

Have you seen this particular study?

On Interpreting Stereotype Threat as Accounting for African American–White Differences on Cognitive Tests - Sackett, Hardison, and Cullen (2004)
http://www2.uni-jena.de/svw/igc/studies/ss03/sackitt_hardison_cullen_2004.pdf

From the study:
C. M. Steele and J. Aronson (1995) showed that making race salient when taking a difficult test affected the performance of high-ability African American students, a phenomenon they termed stereotype threat. The authors document that this research is widely misinterpreted in both popular and scholarly publications as showing that eliminating stereotype threat eliminates the African American–White difference in test performance. In fact, scores were statistically adjusted for differences in students’ prior SAT performance, and thus, Steele and Aronson’s findings actually showed that absent stereotype threat, the two groups differ to the degree that would be expected based on differences in prior SAT scores. The authors caution against interpreting the Steele and Aronson experiment as evidence that stereotype threat is the primary cause of African American–White differences in test performance.
….
We suspect that many readers may react with disappointment to our showing that the Steele and Aronson (1995) research does not show that eliminating stereotype threat eliminates African American–White test differences. Subgroup differences in performance on high-stakes tests represent one of American society’s most pressing social problems, and mechanisms for reducing or eliminating differences are of enormous interest. Yet, given the importance of the problem, proposed explanatory mechanisms merit careful scrutiny and clear understanding.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 21, 2006, 04:39:25 AM
breadboy -

Yes. Here's where I talked about it. See my commentary on philibusters' concern in the 2nd half of the post:
http://www.lawschooldiscussion.org/prelaw/index.php/topic,64541.msg1564430.html#msg1564430
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SCgrad on July 21, 2006, 04:57:24 AM
i'll admit that i haven't read the whole thread.  i read a lot of it a couple months ago when it started (mostly just what red said).

i have a question though.  my question concerns those who believe AA should be economically based and those who think AA is ineffective because it sets students up to fail.  these are both used as arguments against current systems of admissions.  while i don't believe it is possible for groups of people to naturally be smarter, environmental factors can lead some to be more intelligent in certain areas.  for example, students who go to great primary schools ect. probably learn very well how to take tests (not alwaays, but probably moreso than others).  But what are students at "bad" schools learning?  is it useful?  worthless?  the LSAT basically tests something that is more easily learned by certain people than others.  you could argue that while this may be the case, this thing that is learned is important for law school.  so what you end up with is people who have not learned something as well that is required to get into schools.  but why should this matter?  why should we care that some get in and others don't?  as far as the individual is concerned, i would say it is not so important.  only because there is nothing that can be done to correct the past.  that is why AA to me is more of a social awakening.  basically it is throwing darts drunk and shooting for the bullseye.  you will hit it sometimes, sometimes you will miss, and the results will vary from these.  but not having AA is like not even throwing the darts.  if you don't believe there is a benifit to bringing law to a race that seems plagued by it (no matter what you think the cause of this is) is worth a shot, you should at least have something of an alternative, no? 


(sorry this is a little jumpy, i'm a little drunk)
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SouthSide on July 21, 2006, 07:16:43 AM
I guess my problem with red's argument is that it is far too narrow. I'm reasonably convinced that stereotype threat exists, but I'm also reasonably convinced that it doesn't fully account for the differences in LSAT scoring. More importantly, I think you have to think about stereotype threat as just one small manifestation of a wide-ranging cultural problem. In other words, if stereotype threat was the only problem facing African-Americans, I don't think you could build a justification for affirmative action out of that one problem. Red's attempt to build such a justification based only on stereotype threat is impressive, but still feels thin and unconvincing.

The real issue is overall racial discrimination in society. Once you account for the massive crippling effect that both institutional and individual racism cause throughout the lives of all blacks in America, not just the poor (although the poor certainly feel it more profoundly), then the case for affirmative action as a way of leveling the playing field, if only partially, for black applicants becomes much stronger.

At the same time, it becomes much more problematic. On the one hand, it seems woefully inadequate. Helping a small handful of people, and probably not the people most hurt by racism, is like showing up in New Orleans before the hurricane with an umbrella.

On the other hand, affirmative action is problematic because it contributes to racial animus in society. I don't think it's a huge contributor, but certainly the fact that so many respected institutions explicitly favor members of certain races at the expense of members of others sends a message that a lot of people hear as a justification for racism. I don't see a solution to this problem.

Unfortunately, our nation doesn't currently have the political will to mount a more forceful challenge to some of the racist structures that permeate our society. (I'd start with urban policies that promote much more integration in housing and schools.) Affirmative action is helpful enough to enough people with few enough harms that I think it's still worth doing. I think we are seeing some gradual changes in the root causes of racism, and I hope that we will continue to see more, and that we will see a point in our lifetimes where affirmative action won't be necessary.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SCgrad on July 21, 2006, 07:40:02 AM
I guess my problem with red's argument is that it is far too narrow. I'm reasonably convinced that stereotype threat exists, but I'm also reasonably convinced that it doesn't fully account for the differences in LSAT scoring. More importantly, I think you have to think about stereotype threat as just one small manifestation of a wide-ranging cultural problem. In other words, if stereotype threat was the only problem facing African-Americans, I don't think you could build a justification for affirmative action out of that one problem. Red's attempt to build such a justification based only on stereotype threat is impressive, but still feels thin and unconvincing.

The real issue is overall racial discrimination in society. Once you account for the massive crippling effect that both institutional and individual racism cause throughout the lives of all blacks in America, not just the poor (although the poor certainly feel it more profoundly), then the case for affirmative action as a way of leveling the playing field, if only partially, for black applicants becomes much stronger.

At the same time, it becomes much more problematic. On the one hand, it seems woefully inadequate. Helping a small handful of people, and probably not the people most hurt by racism, is like showing up in New Orleans before the hurricane with an umbrella.

On the other hand, affirmative action is problematic because it contributes to racial animus in society. I don't think it's a huge contributor, but certainly the fact that so many respected institutions explicitly favor members of certain races at the expense of members of others sends a message that a lot of people hear as a justification for racism. I don't see a solution to this problem.

Unfortunately, our nation doesn't currently have the political will to mount a more forceful challenge to some of the racist structures that permeate our society. (I'd start with urban policies that promote much more integration in housing and schools.) Affirmative action is helpful enough to enough people with few enough harms that I think it's still worth doing. I think we are seeing some gradual changes in the root causes of racism, and I hope that we will continue to see more, and that we will see a point in our lifetimes where affirmative action won't be necessary.


i agree with this post, especially the bolded part.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Lily Jaye on July 21, 2006, 07:43:02 AM
i'll admit that i haven't read the whole thread.  i read a lot of it a couple months ago when it started (mostly just what red said).

i have a question though.  my question concerns those who believe AA should be economically based

I can't speak for all of us, but most of the other SES-AA supporters I know think about it in relative terms.  IOW, AA shouldn't be exclusively based on SES, but it should play a far more prominent role than it does now.  Why?  The bulk of academic differences stem from SES.  Moreover, that correlation is probably due to our inane property tax-based public school funding.

Red's talking about something slightly different.  She's talking about the differences in testing once you account for SES, undergrad GPA, etc.

Quote
and those who think AA is ineffective because it sets students up to fail.  these are both used as arguments against current systems of admissions.  while i don't believe it is possible for groups of people to naturally be smarter, environmental factors can lead some to be more intelligent in certain areas.  for example, students who go to great primary schools ect. probably learn very well how to take tests (not alwaays, but probably moreso than others).  But what are students at "bad" schools learning?  is it useful?  worthless?  the LSAT basically tests something that is more easily learned by certain people than others.  you could argue that while this may be the case, this thing that is learned is important for law school.  so what you end up with is people who have not learned something as well that is required to get into schools.  but why should this matter?  why should we care that some get in and others don't?  as far as the individual is concerned, i would say it is not so important.  only because there is nothing that can be done to correct the past.

Are you sure about that?

Quote
that is why AA to me is more of a social awakening.  basically it is throwing darts drunk and shooting for the bullseye. 

That accurately characterizes admissions -- even if you stop looking at AA.

Quote
you will hit it sometimes, sometimes you will miss, and the results will vary from these.  but not having AA is like not even throwing the darts.  if you don't believe there is a benifit to bringing law to a race that seems plagued by it (no matter what you think the cause of this is) is worth a shot, you should at least have something of an alternative, no? 

I know I'm not quite awake yet, but ???
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: philibusters on July 21, 2006, 08:07:09 AM
I think I finally go the concept everything is being held steady between races-my only thing there is no data on this-the original experiment did not hold income, class, et ceterea steady, but used the participants previous SAT's scores as baselines to compare the data.  I am not sure it is every possible to completely isolate stereotype threat from everything else.

There is too much talk of IQ and such to me, and not enough over whether the data supports what Red is arguing. First she is arguing that we can interpret the data in such a way that will allow us to draw conclusions about when everything else like socio-economic factors, family life, et cetera are kept steady, but the original stereotype experiment never claimed to keep any of those steady.  Second she is trying to quanitify the effects of stereotype threat-which there is no data to do.  On the second point to me what she is trying to do, is take something where they is decent consensus it exists and use it to explain something that it COULD logically explain, but where there is no data to support that it explains.

I had other points as I was reading through the thread, but the topics changed direction so much, I forgot them by the time I got to the last post and was ready to post myself.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: BPM on July 21, 2006, 08:36:53 AM
i'll admit that i haven't read the whole thread.  i read a lot of it a couple months ago when it started (mostly just what red said).

i have a question though.  my question concerns those who believe AA should be economically based

I can't speak for all of us, but most of the other SES-AA supporters I know think about it in relative terms.  IOW, AA shouldn't be exclusively based on SES, but it should play a far more prominent role than it does now.  Why?  The bulk of academic differences stem from SES.  Moreover, that correlation is probably due to our inane property tax-based public school funding.

Red's talking about something slightly different.  She's talking about the differences in testing once you account for SES, undergrad GPA, etc.


once pre-existing social anxiety levels are accounted for, I almost guarantee the differences, other than innate skills, will disappear.

hence the unfairness of relabelling test anxiety, a condition that affects all populations, to "stereotype threat" so that one can draw conclusions that benefit some and exclude others.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: philibusters on July 21, 2006, 08:43:03 AM
do you believe that intelligence isn't inherited? muhahahahahah.

Actually, if you look at twin studies, the top correlating traits between parents and children are 1) religious sect, and 2) political party affiliation. Intelligence and everything else comes further down the list. Therefore, unless you're willing to concede that there is a genetic predisposition to Protestantism, or to voting Republican, then you can't say anything about genetic predisposition to intelligence.

are you telling me that intelligence can't be measured cuz theres too many kinds? that's what idiots say.

Actually, I'm saying it's very difficult to define and quantify the characteristic you define as 'intelligence.' All measures are bound to be colored by the system that gave rise to them. Intelligence itself is a meaningless concept -- a solution in need of a problem. It becomes meaningful only through application. Similarly, genetic fitness is a meaningless concept unless paired with an environment.

do you think that intelligence has nothing to do with reproductive success long-term?

For all intents, yes, I do. It may crop up now and again, but it's swamped by other adaptive reponses. Fitness does not equal intelligence.

aids is going to wipe out all of africa's population unless western medicine saves them? that's fitness?

No, that's environmental challenge exacerbated by mating success. If you'd like to generalize that to idolize western medicine, that's your prerogative.

But how about the black plague, which decimated the European population? The people that died in that plague were 'unfit' in that sense, and succumbed to extreme environmental pressure. Yet your comments about genetic inferiority seem confined to one race.

If any survive the AIDS epidemic without medical intervention, they could seed a resistant population fit to deal with an AIDS-plagued world. We could stand by and let this happen -- or we could decide that the cost in human lives is far too high. There will always be another virus, another challenge. AIDS is actually a particularly poor example for you, since all races seem equally susceptible to it.

Maybe somebody should create a nature v. nurture thread in the general topic area.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Freak on July 21, 2006, 08:58:00 AM
i'll admit that i haven't read the whole thread.  i read a lot of it a couple months ago when it started (mostly just what red said).

i have a question though.  my question concerns those who believe AA should be economically based

I can't speak for all of us, but most of the other SES-AA supporters I know think about it in relative terms.  IOW, AA shouldn't be exclusively based on SES, but it should play a far more prominent role than it does now.  Why?  The bulk of academic differences stem from SES.  Moreover, that correlation is probably due to our inane property tax-based public school funding.

Red's talking about something slightly different.  She's talking about the differences in testing once you account for SES, undergrad GPA, etc.


once pre-existing social anxiety levels are accounted for, I almost guarantee the differences, other than innate skills, will disappear.

hence the unfairness of relabelling test anxiety, a condition that affects all populations, to "stereotype threat" so that one can draw conclusions that benefit some and exclude others.



You're saying they're basically engaging in neologism? i.e. politics?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 21, 2006, 09:15:11 AM
Jesus Christ.  Why has it taken 21 pages for someone to FINALLY come up with this point?  I was thinking I'd have to do it myself.

Look, I think it's elementary but that's not what red is interested in arguing.  Here's my take.

The LSAT has shown to be racially biased.1  The only way to argue that there is no problem in having a test which has such a strong racial bias seems to be to believe that in racist biology.2  My point above is that AA can be seen primarily as a corrective not for larger social forces but for a biased test.

red's whole thread is dedicated to explaining how these larger social forces act to make the LSAT biased.  This is worthwhile because many people who do not support race-based AA and have taken the LSAT do not see how it is possible that it could be prejudiced against certain groups (or in favor of others).   To many test-takers, the LSAT seems race-neutral and thus AA is not necessary to correct it.  red has tried to show how that is not the case.  Most of her critics have danced around this.

1It is also biased in terms of class and other measures.  This is why it's nonsensical to me that people legitimately argue that they believe in SES based AA but not racially based AA.  They are different problems and need to be studied and addressed as such.
2Honestly, you people, go @#!* yourselves.  If you think that race and intelligence are extant, meaningful, biologically-based phenomena, then you have a lot of learning to do before you go to law school.


I am particularly interested in making sure that the bolded part is properly discussed.

1. It is not enough, in my view, to show that there is a raw gap in group LSAT scores. There are a number of reasons as to why that gap could exist, and not all of them require correction at the level of the law school admissions process. If the LSAT, for example, accurately reflectd a gap in actual acquired critical reading and analytical thinking skills, then one could reasonably argue that the proper corrective should be earlier in the pipeline.

2. On the other hand, a gap after adjusting for SES, GPA, and so on, is something that raises serious questions about the construct validity of the test instrument. The evidence available to us suggests that the LSAT (and standardized tests like it) measure not only acquired critical reading and analytical thinking skills, but also a particular kind of speededness -- two separate variables with little or no correlation to each other. The information available to us suggests that the group variations in LSAT performance (adjusted for SES, GPA, etc) are due to the variations in that kind of speededness rather than to variations in critical thinking skills. Why is this? My suggestion based on the evidence is that it is because of the mechanics by which the stereotype threat affects URMs.

3. Again, showing this is not quite enough (at least for me). One also has to ask whether the kind of speededness that is measured by these tests, and that accounts for the adjusted gap in scores, is relevant, or is crucial, to one's success as a lawyer or law student. It is my view that schools have not only a strong interest in admitting (but also a duty to admit) only those applicants who can hack it. The evidence that I have cited indicates quite strongly that (i) the disparity in law school GPA is caused by the same artificial emphasis on a particular kind of speededness as is characterized in the LSAT; and that (ii) that there is nothing natural about, or utility in, testing for that kind of speededness.

I am proposing to show that the gap (adjusted for SES, GPA etc) is reflective not of acquired skills, but of the psychological effects racism.

By relying so heavily on the LSAT in the admissions process and on particular kinds of in-class exams in law school itself, law schools have chosen to use indicators of academic merit that do not accurately reflect applicants' and students' critical thinking or lawyerly abilities. That is why neither the LSAT nor law school grades even come close to predicting one's success as a lawyer after controlling for law school attended. The only thing that these testing instruments manage to do quite well and quite consistently are to discriminate by race*. Those are, I think, the plain facts of the matter.

Now, one can imagine a number of remedies for what would otherwise be systematic bias against URMs in the admissions process.

The simplest and most practical ones, it seems to me, are those that would construct and use accurate measuring instruments for critical thinking and lawyerly skills*. This, in my view, is key. Harvard, for example, has a right to admit only those people whom they think are the brightest and the best, but they have no right to use an inaccurate and systematically biased [read: racist] instrument/process for identifying those applicants.

So, these are for me the touchstones: merit and fairness. My argument depends on both, and I won't give up either. The defence of AA frequently concedes (a LOT of) ground  on merit -- it says "Yep, URMs are on average not as capable, but we want them in for diversity's sake". I reject that argument altogether, and if it that were in fact the basis for affirmative action, I would be firmly against it. Instead, I would be for correctives earlier in the pipeline.**



* Archrival & Miss P: I have seen no persuasive information to suggest that there is an important cultural bias in the content of the questions included in the LSAT. They seem, from what I can gather, to be isolated examples and unlikely to acount for more than a single scaled point, if that. On the other hand, the way that LSAC conducts its differential item functioning leaves no possibility for determining whether there are such questions. A question is rejected only if high scorers get it wrong. Clearly, the potential for bias is there, but I  have no evidence to suggest that it actually is there.

** There are a number of other inequities in the ways that law schools treat minorities (and women) in law school. Some, but not all, of these can be traced back to the presumption that URMs are affirmative action admits. The Pygmalion effect wrt to white students, the silencing of female students, etc, are also relevant and important in the law school experience. Nevertheless, I do find it interesting that, notwithstanding this hostile environment, simply increasing the emphasis on take-home exams changes the distribution of grades awarded.

*** I think, for example, that SES (as an independent variable) requires far more scrutiny as a justification for admitting a candidate than race (as an independent variable) does. That's why the mechanics of how race, and of how SES, explain the differences in index scores are important, and why I have spent so much time emphasizing the mechanics. If, for example, SES were to indicate that poorer students simply didn't acquire the skills necessary to succeed in a particular law school, I would not favor a process that admitted them to that law school in greater proportions than their index score performance would predict. "They grew up poor and neither parent attended college" doesn't strike me as sufficient for a remedy of this kind, and at this level. On the other hand, not being able to afford LSAT prep, having to work through college, etc, raise a presumption that the index score is not indicative of their ability, and so a more careful consideration of their potential is warranted.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 21, 2006, 09:30:02 AM
once pre-existing social anxiety levels are accounted for, I almost guarantee the differences, other than innate skills, will disappear.

hence the unfairness of relabelling test anxiety, a condition that affects all populations, to "stereotype threat" so that one can draw conclusions that benefit some and exclude others.

Look, you seem stuck on this point, and it strikes me that you likely suffer from ADHD or test anxiety. Fair enough. No-one here is trying to exclude you from law school.

I do think, however, that you should try to keep your eye on the ball. You are the one doing the re-labeling to suit your purposes, and with disregard for the information that I have posted.

In the very first couple of posts, I showed you experimental evidence that, for example, people with nearly perfect scores in the math portion of the SAT succumbed to the stereotype effect when exposed to particular stereotype triggers.

How does this square with your statement that: "hence the unfairness of relabelling test anxiety, a condition that affects all populations, to "stereotype threat" so that one can draw conclusions that benefit some and exclude others"?  That's a straight question, and I expect a straight answer from you.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Freak on July 21, 2006, 09:50:04 AM
Quote
do you believe that intelligence isn't inherited? muhahahahahah. are you telling me that intelligence can't be measured cuz theres too many kinds? that's what idiots say. do you think that intelligence has nothing to do with reproductive success long-term? aids is going to wipe out all of africa's population unless western medicine saves them? that's fitness?

this is quite possibly the most hilarious thing i've ever heard.  Let me see if i'm understanding your point.  Aids is going to wipe out africa, so you say.  Now, is your point here that Aids is going to wipe out africa because people who live in africa are unintelligent and therefore more likely to be infected by HIV?  You do know that viruses, unlike yourself, do not discriminate?  You do know that western culture, in all of our glory, is just as likely to be taken over by a virus (Gonzo's point).  Any "genetic drift" that has occured has not made the modern westernern able to become resistent to any strain of HIV.  the difference is not heredity or genetic variations, its socioeconomic status.  Western culture has developed the means to inform the mass public of the dangers disease trasmittance.  This does not make those culture less intelligent, it just means we have had more opportunity.  Does South Africa count as part of africa?  South Africa is very much westernized, yet they seem to be having the same issues as the rest of africa, if not even worse because of how its existence was formed from ignorance.  You may have the intelligence to survive living in new york city in a nice downtown apartment and avoid trouble, but do you think you could survive a week in africa?  Do you think that you would be able to avoid any and all disease that affect "only" african people?  How does your fitness compare to theirs in that situation?  Fitness is a measure success in your given environment.  Now you say they lack fitness because a disease has taken over an entire continent?  You should learn about disease before making ignorant claims. 

You can't really make the claim that the less intelligent people will be weeded out of a society or population, if that were true, there would be no rednecks.  If society as a whole has developed way to keep a population afloat, the less intelligent people will latch on to the success of others.  Not every person in a community discovered how to use fire, or build a wheel, or kill an animal for food.  ONLY if individuals are a threat to the success of the community are they weeded out (some state choose to use the death penatly).  Human are not birds trying to avoid predators and therefore changing color patterns, the changes that through genetic variation are not going to make certain populations resistant to disease.  If you intelligence allows you to defend against HIV, the bird flu, or any other virus, congratulations, you will make more money than bill gates.  Good luck. 

He's just making the inane argument that since AIDS is easily prevented, by abstinence, that Africans are stupid because it's wiping them out.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SouthSide on July 21, 2006, 11:29:36 AM
1. It is not enough, in my view, to show that there is a raw gap in group LSAT scores. There are a number of reasons as to why that gap could exist, and not all of them require correction at the level of the law school admissions process. If the LSAT, for example, accurately reflectd a gap in actual acquired critical reading and analytical thinking skills, then one could reasonably argue that the proper corrective should be earlier in the pipeline.

2. On the other hand, a gap after adjusting for SES, GPA, and so on, is something that raises serious questions about the construct validity of the test instrument. The evidence available to us suggests that the LSAT (and standardized tests like it) measure not only acquired critical reading and analytical thinking skills, but also a particular kind of speededness -- two separate variables with little or no correlation to each other. The information available to us suggests that the group variations in LSAT performance (adjusted for SES, GPA, etc) are due to the variations in that kind of speededness rather than to variations in critical thinking skills. Why is this? My suggestion based on the evidence is that it is because of the mechanics by which the stereotype threat affects URMs.

3. Again, showing this is not quite enough (at least for me). One also has to ask whether the kind of speededness that is measured by these tests, and that accounts for the adjusted gap in scores, is relevant, or is crucial, to one's success as a lawyer or law student. It is my view that schools have not only a strong interest in admitting (but also a duty to admit) only those applicants who can hack it. The evidence that I have cited indicates quite strongly that (i) the disparity in law school GPA is caused by the same artificial emphasis on a particular kind of speededness as is characterized in the LSAT; and that (ii) that there is nothing natural about, or utility in, testing for that kind of speededness.

I am proposing to show that the gap (adjusted for SES, GPA etc) is reflective not of acquired skills, but of the psychological effects racism.

By relying so heavily on the LSAT in the admissions process and on particular kinds of in-class exams in law school itself, law schools have chosen to use indicators of academic merit that do not accurately reflect applicants' and students' critical thinking or lawyerly abilities. That is why neither the LSAT nor law school grades even come close to predicting one's success as a lawyer after controlling for law school attended. The only thing that these testing instruments manage to do quite well and quite consistently are to discriminate by race*. Those are, I think, the plain facts of the matter.

Now, one can imagine a number of remedies for what would otherwise be systematic bias against URMs in the admissions process.

The simplest and most practical ones, it seems to me, are those that would construct and use accurate measuring instruments for critical thinking and lawyerly skills*. This, in my view, is key. Harvard, for example, has a right to admit only those people whom they think are the brightest and the best, but they have no right to use an inaccurate and systematically biased [read: racist] instrument/process for identifying those applicants.

So, these are for me the touchstones: merit and fairness. My argument depends on both, and I won't give up either. The defence of AA frequently concedes (a LOT of) ground  on merit -- it says "Yep, URMs are on average not as capable, but we want them in for diversity's sake". I reject that argument altogether, and if it that were in fact the basis for affirmative action, I would be firmly against it. Instead, I would be for correctives earlier in the pipeline.**


I think you are digging away too much of your own foundation here. It will be very hard to sustain an argument that "merit" alone can be used as the basis of affirmative action in admissions, without any consideration of justice in a larger societal sense. For example, while it may be true that black and Latino applicants face a stereotype threat while taking the LSAT, it also seems that they face racial pressure in law school itself, and that the legal profession is rife with both structural racism and individual racism. For all we know, the LSAT's stereotype threat may be an accurate screen as to which minority applicants will be able to weather this storm and which will fare poorly because of it. (I'm not saying I think that, I'm just saying that it's a plausible argument.)

I think you need something more than what you are giving us to justify affirmative action. That something is to honestly argue that affirmative action is one method of rectifying the fact that our society is pervaded with racial bias. Stereotype threat is one of many examples of this racial bias, and one that is particularly relevant in illustrating the problems confronted by minority applicants. It is not, however, the sole argument in favor of affirmative action.

In terms of your point that I've bolded, for example. You could still concede that point, and argue for affirmative action. You would argue that earlier corrective action is needed as well as using affirmative action to level the playing field while the corrective actions are taking place.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: pikey on July 21, 2006, 01:19:41 PM
rational people can agree that too many blacks are raised in a myopic and self indulgent culture where positive behaviors are not encouraged and wanton excess is glorified. this is where the corrective action should focus. if it does come from genes there isn't much to be done but reducing this negative culture's influence as much as possible can only be good. it's sad that many african-americans associate hip hop with black culture instead of jazz and r & b.

Yeah, because white pop culture is so f-ing great.  "My Sweet Sixteen" on MTV or whatever the @#!* it's called, anyone?  Hip hop culture is the only place where corrective action should be applied?  Get a f-ing clue.

you like the red herrings i see. my sweet sixteen is vain and shallow but it doesnt encourage crime and violence. they need to be changed too but its not as pressing as hip hop.

Wasn't there a big uproar about how heavy metal and video games are inciting violence in kids and teens, as exhibited by Columbine-type school shootings?  I don't know many black heavy metal artists or fans...

Edit: In addition, the biggest consumer of hip hop is suburban white males.  If their culture was so superior, why are they flocking to the inferior culture?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: bass on July 21, 2006, 01:21:57 PM
rational people can agree that too many blacks are raised in a myopic and self indulgent culture where positive behaviors are not encouraged and wanton excess is glorified. this is where the corrective action should focus. if it does come from genes there isn't much to be done but reducing this negative culture's influence as much as possible can only be good. it's sad that many african-americans associate hip hop with black culture instead of jazz and r & b.

Yeah, because white pop culture is so f-ing great.  "My Sweet Sixteen" on MTV or whatever the @#!* it's called, anyone?  Hip hop culture is the only place where corrective action should be applied?  Get a f-ing clue.

you like the red herrings i see. my sweet sixteen is vain and shallow but it doesnt encourage crime and violence. they need to be changed too but its not as pressing as hip hop.

How is that a red herring.  You railed against self indulgent cultures where wanton excess was glorified.  Halfie provided a prominent example of white pop culture displaying these very same qualities.

Rising 2L at HYS, yeah, ok.  If that is true, I will slit my wrists as I weep for the future.

I have a feeling he is telling the truth, and if I had to guess, I'd say HLS.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Lily Jaye on July 21, 2006, 02:15:03 PM
i'll admit that i haven't read the whole thread.  i read a lot of it a couple months ago when it started (mostly just what red said).

i have a question though.  my question concerns those who believe AA should be economically based

I can't speak for all of us, but most of the other SES-AA supporters I know think about it in relative terms.  IOW, AA shouldn't be exclusively based on SES, but it should play a far more prominent role than it does now.  Why?  The bulk of academic differences stem from SES.  Moreover, that correlation is probably due to our inane property tax-based public school funding.

Red's talking about something slightly different.  She's talking about the differences in testing once you account for SES, undergrad GPA, etc.


once pre-existing social anxiety levels are accounted for, I almost guarantee the differences, other than innate skills, will disappear.

hence the unfairness of relabelling test anxiety, a condition that affects all populations, to "stereotype threat" so that one can draw conclusions that benefit some and exclude others.

Text anxiety =/= stereotype threat
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Lily Jaye on July 21, 2006, 02:19:50 PM
do you believe that intelligence isn't inherited? muhahahahahah.

Actually, if you look at twin studies, the top correlating traits between parents and children are 1) religious sect, and 2) political party affiliation. Intelligence and everything else comes further down the list. Therefore, unless you're willing to concede that there is a genetic predisposition to Protestantism, or to voting Republican, then you can't say anything about genetic predisposition to intelligence.

Interesting.  Which studies are these?

Also, for many traits it's far more useful to look at studies comparing adopted children to their biological and adopted parents.  There are many different types of "twin" studies, but it sounds like you're referring to the subset of twin adopted by different families.  With that in mind, it's important to remember that most twins' adoptions are run by the same agency -- most of which have noticeable religious affiliations. 

More to say, but I have stuff to do.  ttfn
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: obamacon on July 21, 2006, 03:46:24 PM
From what I remember IQ is .4 correlated with parents and around .9 correlated between twins.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: thorc954 on July 21, 2006, 06:37:11 PM
Okay, these comments may address issues that go back a page or so, cause you guys went to town while I was at work.

First, I am glad Annabel(sp?) got into Yale, cause we are getting married. I proposed in another thread, and I think she accepted.

Second, rednecks are in no way less intelligent then any other whites.  Half my friends are rednecks. Instead of lacking in intelligence, they simple have other ideals in life. They dont value money, but they simply appreciate their time.  They have some of the highest morality of the people in our country.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: obamacon on July 21, 2006, 07:10:05 PM
Second, rednecks are in no way less intelligent then any other whites.  Half my friends are rednecks. Instead of lacking in intelligence, they simple have other ideals in life. They dont value money, but they simply appreciate their time.  They have some of the highest morality of the people in our country.

I live in the south and also know quite a few rednecks. In general, they are less intelligent, more suspicious of education, more violent, more accepting of drunkenness,  less able to deal with others, and less respectful of the law than those who adhere to mainstream American Culture. Personally, I wait for the day when the redneck culture ceases to exist. It didn’t work for the Scots, and it doesn’t work for us.

This is way off topic, so start another thread if you'd like to debate the merits of the redneck culture.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: thorc954 on July 21, 2006, 11:13:39 PM
This is way off topic, so start another thread if you'd like to debate the merits of the redneck culture.

[/quote]

like anything in this thread has really been on topic? Including your comments about IQ?

Anyway, Red, I asked a question a few pages back. How do you defend the GPA gap between blacks and whites? It seems like those accepted at the T14 have both lower lsats and gpas then their white counterparts. I question the stereotype threat theory. The concept suggests that blacks and whites go into the test equally prepared and that blacks some how feel inadequate and have some self-fufilling prophecy. Anyway, I believe that a lot more leads up to these discrepencies then merely this stereotype threat, but I will not touch on this now.  Anyway, their GPAs are significantly lower on average (merely from my viewing of LSN and what I have read on here).  Can you reasonably assume that blacks felt inferior going into ever test they ever took and that their GPAs suffered as a result?  Also, several courses are merely term papers or submitted assignments rather then exams.  How then does stereotype threat account for GPA difference?  I know you never directly apply the theory to this situation, but this is where AA comes into play. Assume that the LSATs are biased.  A grade shift to compensate for minorities isnt necessarily affirmative action but merely correcting a flaw.  This isnt the case though. Add 6 points to the lsat scores of most minorities and you still have below average canidates in most situations.  Anyway, I would love further clarification on this issue. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Lily Jaye on July 22, 2006, 06:33:35 AM
On prenatal experience and twin IQ correlations: B Devlin et al., "The heritability of IQ," Nature 388 (1997): 468-71

On twins' scholastic achievement: L.A. Thompson et al., " Associations between cognitive abilities and scholastic achievement: genetic overlap but environmental differences." Psychological Science 2 (1991): 158-65

Others by Plomin.  Also, the Minnesota adoption studies from the 80s by Scarr and Weinberg.

Do these ring a bell?  They're mentioned in one of my favorite child development books.

I need to head to D.C. in about 15 minutes so I don't have time to look them up, but if memory serves, they don't say what you need them to say in order for your argument to work: they mostly just focus on the inherited nature of IQ, not IQ heritibility as compared to religion. 

And don't the Minnesota adoption studies focus on interracial adoptions?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 22, 2006, 07:17:49 AM
Do you think the racial bias in the admissions process would be as strong if there were no law school rankings?

It's a vicious circle. It's not US News' responsibility to change their ranking method; it is law schools' responsibility to use a more intelligent (and therefore more fair) admissions process.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 22, 2006, 07:35:37 AM
I guess my problem with red's argument is that it is far too narrow. I'm reasonably convinced that stereotype threat exists, but I'm also reasonably convinced that it doesn't fully account for the differences in LSAT scoring. More importantly, I think you have to think about stereotype threat as just one small manifestation of a wide-ranging cultural problem. In other words, if stereotype threat was the only problem facing African-Americans, I don't think you could build a justification for affirmative action out of that one problem. Red's attempt to build such a justification based only on stereotype threat is impressive, but still feels thin and unconvincing.

The real issue is overall racial discrimination in society. Once you account for the massive crippling effect that both institutional and individual racism cause throughout the lives of all blacks in America, not just the poor (although the poor certainly feel it more profoundly), then the case for affirmative action as a way of leveling the playing field, if only partially, for black applicants becomes much stronger.

At the same time, it becomes much more problematic. On the one hand, it seems woefully inadequate. Helping a small handful of people, and probably not the people most hurt by racism, is like showing up in New Orleans before the hurricane with an umbrella.

On the other hand, affirmative action is problematic because it contributes to racial animus in society. I don't think it's a huge contributor, but certainly the fact that so many respected institutions explicitly favor members of certain races at the expense of members of others sends a message that a lot of people hear as a justification for racism. I don't see a solution to this problem.

Unfortunately, our nation doesn't currently have the political will to mount a more forceful challenge to some of the racist structures that permeate our society. (I'd start with urban policies that promote much more integration in housing and schools.) Affirmative action is helpful enough to enough people with few enough harms that I think it's still worth doing. I think we are seeing some gradual changes in the root causes of racism, and I hope that we will continue to see more, and that we will see a point in our lifetimes where affirmative action won't be necessary.


I'll come back to this.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: BPM on July 22, 2006, 09:04:51 AM
i'll admit that i haven't read the whole thread.  i read a lot of it a couple months ago when it started (mostly just what red said).

i have a question though.  my question concerns those who believe AA should be economically based

I can't speak for all of us, but most of the other SES-AA supporters I know think about it in relative terms.  IOW, AA shouldn't be exclusively based on SES, but it should play a far more prominent role than it does now.  Why?  The bulk of academic differences stem from SES.  Moreover, that correlation is probably due to our inane property tax-based public school funding.

Red's talking about something slightly different.  She's talking about the differences in testing once you account for SES, undergrad GPA, etc.


once pre-existing social anxiety levels are accounted for, I almost guarantee the differences, other than innate skills, will disappear.

hence the unfairness of relabelling test anxiety, a condition that affects all populations, to "stereotype threat" so that one can draw conclusions that benefit some and exclude others.

Text anxiety =/= stereotype threat


the end effect is test anxiety.



http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=11414722&dopt=Abstract



Steele's (1992, 1997) stereotype-threat theory attempts to explain underperformance of minority students in academic domains and of women in mathematics. Steele argues that situational self-relevance of negative group stereotypes in testing situations increases the anxiety these students experience and that these differential anxiety levels explain performance differences. Research shows that manipulation of stereotype threat can affect academic performance. However, there has been little research testing whether anxiety does at least partially explain the relationship between race and achievement. The goal of this study was to examine whether anxiety will explain racial differences in academic performance and gender differences in math performance in the context of a nationally representative sample of high school seniors. Partial mediation was observed, with anxiety explaining significant portions of the racial differences in academic performance. Anxiety also partially explained sex differences in math achievement, although the effect sizes were very small. These results provide general support for Steele's stereotype-threat hypothesis. Copyright 2001 Academic Press.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Infinity on July 22, 2006, 09:26:51 AM
Red (and other compelling AA defenders)---I've found your discussion enlightening, but I have one major question that nobody has addressed (though i skimmed a few of the posts, so please correct me if i overlooked it).  I personally am very torn about AA, though I do believe it is a useful social policy for the moment, so I am a supporter.  That said, however, there's a major gap regarding the implementation of AA that I'm not sure how to answer, so I would like to know what others think.

How does a general (or "societal" or "structual" problem as you all like to say) problem dictate particular actions?  In other words, what concrete changes should an AA policy enact in law school admissions decisions on particular candidates? 

Lets assume that all the arguments that have been provided in defense of AA are true (that there is a large LSAT (I'll ignore GPA) gap between members of different races, that the "stereotype threat" is prevalent and is the best conception we have for explaining this gap, that merit and fairness are the proper criteria for law school admissions, etc.).  Now if all of these are true, it seems to follow that, as Red suggested in her very first post, AA is a good policy because it offsets the psychologically (or societally) induced LSAT gap that obscures the equal talents of members of different races and it thereby increases the meritocracy of law schools (which we have assumed is good).  AA thus seems to be a good general solution to a general problem.

What, though, are the concrete effects of this policy?  On the decision of any particular candidate with an LSAT score lower than the average accepted by a schoool, how should the admissions committee determine that this candidate suffered from the "stereotype threat" as opposed simply to achieving a score indicative of their apptitude (and yes I know this assumes without argument that GPA\LSAT indicate apptitude, but there does not seem to be a better suggested method for evaluating apptitude so i will not argue this point here)?  If, as Red said, black students score on average 6 points lower because of the "stereotype threat," does that mean we should add 6 points to every black student's LSAT score and from there judge all candidates equally and blind to race? 

That might be the systematic solution, but it does not seem fair or meritocratic.  Certainly, some students are affected more than others by the "stereotype threat" and the 6 points is just an average.  How should we account for particular students who score well on other standardized tests (ACTs, SATs) but bomb the LSAT--do they get +6?  What about students with high GPAs (let's even say a 4.0) but bad LSATs, do they get +6?  Why would the "stereotype threat" affect these students in certain acadmic situations but not, seemingly, in other comparable ones?  Should we give the +6 to students only when they have low ACTs\SATs and low LSATs, or only when they have low GPAs, low SATs\ACTs\ and low LSATs?  And what about students who are affected by more than 6 points because of the "stereotype threat," but only get a 6 point boost?  What is fair and meritocratic?

It would certainly be fair and meritocratic to give a boost to students that corresponds with the damage done by the "stereotype threat" when it is apparent, but there does not seem to be any way to determine this in a rigorous manner.  Without such a determination, it seems unfair and unmeritocratic to boost everyone's scores equally  (indeed, such rationale seems to me to be the continuous problem with AA: people agree with it on a general level, but in any individual instance where AA might seem to have helped a particular student gain admission, that student will get attacked for not deserving it, because how can we know when lower numbers obscure the higher talent of a student and when lower numbers actually indicate lower talent?).  The idea of boosting scores equally for a particular race seems to lead, logically, to the idea of a quota system (because it assumes that all students are inherently equal and different races should be represented equally in proportion to the number of applicants, which should equal the proportion of the different races in society since all people are assumed equal).

Instead, it seems that, ideally, LSAT scores should be understood as flexible because of the possibility of the "stereotype threat," but this response undermines the use of LSATs (which i find problematic because it is the only common criterion of admissions for all students) and also neglects to mention how AA would be consistently implemented fairly and meritocratically. 

It seems to me that, in the end, with AA in admissions decisions, there is generally a +6 boost (or +x), since there does not seem to be any way to determine when the "stereotype threat" occurs or to what extent it affects individuals, and so students get equal boosts which are usually too large or too small (though, on average, it is equal, it is not in particular situations).  This result is highly unsatisfactory to me because although it does deservedly benefit some, it also undeservedly harms some.  Perhaps it is best (and trite) to say that AA has lots of problems but that it is the best solution available to this "systemic" problem, but that is not much of a defense of AA. 

This is the conclusion I reach, and my intuition is that, at the moment, the benefits of AA are greater than the harms, but this is not for logical or certain reasons (the benefits of AA are not deducible from principles of fairness or meritocracy as some think), and i do not think that the gap between benefits and harms is very great.

So I would like to hear why people think I am right or wrong, but, more importantly, what concrete suggestions anyone has for implementing AA policies in evaluations of particular candidates.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SouthSide on July 22, 2006, 11:38:44 AM
Red (and other compelling AA defenders)---I've found your discussion enlightening, but I have one major question that nobody has addressed (though i skimmed a few of the posts, so please correct me if i overlooked it).  I personally am very torn about AA, though I do believe it is a useful social policy for the moment, so I am a supporter.  That said, however, there's a major gap regarding the implementation of AA that I'm not sure how to answer, so I would like to know what others think.

How does a general (or "societal" or "structual" problem as you all like to say) problem dictate particular actions?  In other words, what concrete changes should an AA policy enact in law school admissions decisions on particular candidates? 

Lets assume that all the arguments that have been provided in defense of AA are true (that there is a large LSAT (I'll ignore GPA) gap between members of different races, that the "stereotype threat" is prevalent and is the best conception we have for explaining this gap, that merit and fairness are the proper criteria for law school admissions, etc.).  Now if all of these are true, it seems to follow that, as Red suggested in her very first post, AA is a good policy because it offsets the psychologically (or societally) induced LSAT gap that obscures the equal talents of members of different races and it thereby increases the meritocracy of law schools (which we have assumed is good).  AA thus seems to be a good general solution to a general problem.

What, though, are the concrete effects of this policy?  On the decision of any particular candidate with an LSAT score lower than the average accepted by a schoool, how should the admissions committee determine that this candidate suffered from the "stereotype threat" as opposed simply to achieving a score indicative of their apptitude (and yes I know this assumes without argument that GPA\LSAT indicate apptitude, but there does not seem to be a better suggested method for evaluating apptitude so i will not argue this point here)?  If, as Red said, black students score on average 6 points lower because of the "stereotype threat," does that mean we should add 6 points to every black student's LSAT score and from there judge all candidates equally and blind to race? 

That might be the systematic solution, but it does not seem fair or meritocratic.  Certainly, some students are affected more than others by the "stereotype threat" and the 6 points is just an average.  How should we account for particular students who score well on other standardized tests (ACTs, SATs) but bomb the LSAT--do they get +6?  What about students with high GPAs (let's even say a 4.0) but bad LSATs, do they get +6?  Why would the "stereotype threat" affect these students in certain acadmic situations but not, seemingly, in other comparable ones?  Should we give the +6 to students only when they have low ACTs\SATs and low LSATs, or only when they have low GPAs, low SATs\ACTs\ and low LSATs?  And what about students who are affected by more than 6 points because of the "stereotype threat," but only get a 6 point boost?  What is fair and meritocratic?

It would certainly be fair and meritocratic to give a boost to students that corresponds with the damage done by the "stereotype threat" when it is apparent, but there does not seem to be any way to determine this in a rigorous manner.  Without such a determination, it seems unfair and unmeritocratic to boost everyone's scores equally  (indeed, such rationale seems to me to be the continuous problem with AA: people agree with it on a general level, but in any individual instance where AA might seem to have helped a particular student gain admission, that student will get attacked for not deserving it, because how can we know when lower numbers obscure the higher talent of a student and when lower numbers actually indicate lower talent?).  The idea of boosting scores equally for a particular race seems to lead, logically, to the idea of a quota system (because it assumes that all students are inherently equal and different races should be represented equally in proportion to the number of applicants, which should equal the proportion of the different races in society since all people are assumed equal).

Instead, it seems that, ideally, LSAT scores should be understood as flexible because of the possibility of the "stereotype threat," but this response undermines the use of LSATs (which i find problematic because it is the only common criterion of admissions for all students) and also neglects to mention how AA would be consistently implemented fairly and meritocratically. 

It seems to me that, in the end, with AA in admissions decisions, there is generally a +6 boost (or +x), since there does not seem to be any way to determine when the "stereotype threat" occurs or to what extent it affects individuals, and so students get equal boosts which are usually too large or too small (though, on average, it is equal, it is not in particular situations).  This result is highly unsatisfactory to me because although it does deservedly benefit some, it also undeservedly harms some.  Perhaps it is best (and trite) to say that AA has lots of problems but that it is the best solution available to this "systemic" problem, but that is not much of a defense of AA. 

This is the conclusion I reach, and my intuition is that, at the moment, the benefits of AA are greater than the harms, but this is not for logical or certain reasons (the benefits of AA are not deducible from principles of fairness or meritocracy as some think), and i do not think that the gap between benefits and harms is very great.

So I would like to hear why people think I am right or wrong, but, more importantly, what concrete suggestions anyone has for implementing AA policies in evaluations of particular candidates.

You're missing the point here. The argument from stereotype threat is that the LSAT, always a very rough gauge of an individual's fitness for law school, is paricularly inadequate as a measure of a black applicant's ability to do well in law school. Thus, law schools should consider each application from an under represented minority much more holistically. More weight sould be given to background, life experiences, essays, and accomplishments besides the LSAT. You shouldn't simply add 6 points to every black applicant's score, but you should be willing to dig deeper into these applications because you are aware of how issues like stereotype threat make the LSAT an insufficient measure.

No one has argued that law schools perfectly accomplish this currently, but this is what they are attempting to do. Obviously, this will always be an imperfect science, and you can never be sure of which applicants will truly make up the "best" class. I think the whole argument begins with the assumption, however, that admissions as a whole is a very imperfect science, and it is nearly impossible to make accurate judgments about any applicant. Red's point has simply been that you make this imperfect science much better if you account for stereotype threat when dealing with minority applications.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: aerynn on July 22, 2006, 11:55:11 AM
This is outside the scope of this conversation, but it is important to a conversation about AA (in my opinion). . .

Law School is not an end.  It is a means to the end of becoming a lawyer.  By looking at the admissions process, law school starts to look like a destination instead of what it really is: a trade school to create lawyers.

Given that those URMs who successfully graduate and pass the bar make great lawyers that are highly likely to give back to their communities and given that some minority members of the community may not trust a white lawyer (due to stereotypes and prejudice that exists on both sides) and that these members of the community will only be adequately served by minority lawyers, shouldn't we do whatever we can to create those minority lawyers?  I see it as irrelvant if those lawyers were not the top students at their law school for whatever reason (stereotype thread, test anxiety, poor early education offered by poor public schools, lack of role models in the family to encourage "book learning" as valuable, etc. etc. etc.)  If in the end the minorities who pass school and the bar make great lawyers who can serve in ways that white lawyers cannot, then we need to do whatever is needed to ensure that minority applicants make it into law school.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SouthSide on July 22, 2006, 01:56:08 PM
No one has argued that law schools perfectly accomplish this currently, but this is what they are attempting to do. Obviously, this will always be an imperfect science, and you can never be sure of which applicants will truly make up the "best" class. I think the whole argument begins with the assumption, however, that admissions as a whole is a very imperfect science, and it is nearly impossible to make accurate judgments about any applicant. Red's point has simply been that you make this imperfect science much better if you account for stereotype threat when dealing with minority applications.

I'm not certain that's entirely been her argument, by my point is that this line is not convincing for people who, as I said earlier, buy into the cult of individuality.

I think aerynn's right - I personally don't care exactly how you describe the root(s) of the bias or exactly what system you choose to deal with it, but I think something should be done.  I'm mushy that way.


If you buy into the "cult of individuality," you should be far more willing to look at individual applications holistically, rather than blindly assume that a student with a 175 is better than one with a 168.

And the problem with being "mushy" is that it doesn't lead us anywhere specific. Meaningless feel-good-ism can result in all sorts of harmful policies. I think we should take these problems seriously and rigorously examine what the best responses are.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Infinity on July 23, 2006, 09:42:54 AM
No one has argued that law schools perfectly accomplish this currently, but this is what they are attempting to do. Obviously, this will always be an imperfect science, and you can never be sure of which applicants will truly make up the "best" class. I think the whole argument begins with the assumption, however, that admissions as a whole is a very imperfect science, and it is nearly impossible to make accurate judgments about any applicant. Red's point has simply been that you make this imperfect science much better if you account for stereotype threat when dealing with minority applications.

I'm not certain that's entirely been her argument, by my point is that this line is not convincing for people who, as I said earlier, buy into the cult of individuality.

I think aerynn's right - I personally don't care exactly how you describe the root(s) of the bias or exactly what system you choose to deal with it, but I think something should be done.  I'm mushy that way.


If you buy into the "cult of individuality," you should be far more willing to look at individual applications holistically, rather than blindly assume that a student with a 175 is better than one with a 168.

And the problem with being "mushy" is that it doesn't lead us anywhere specific. Meaningless feel-good-ism can result in all sorts of harmful policies. I think we should take these problems seriously and rigorously examine what the best responses are.


I'm all for "holistic" examination of applicants, but i don't really understand what that means in any concrete fashion--it seems like a nice big fuzzy academic word that boils down to meaning: "examine an applicant's file and ignore the LSAT."  Personally, I would hope that every candidate's file is examined in detail beyond just the GPA\LSAT, and i think most law schools do look closely.  I fully understand that admissions is an inexact science, but using fuzzy words in place of largely objective criteria seems to make it less exact, rather than more.

You say admissions committees should "dig deeper" into these applications, an idea I largely reject since i think ALL candidates' applications should be thoroughly examined.  You also suggest that we give "more weight" to "background, life experiences, essays" for candidates subject to "stereotype threat."  Does that mean that even if a minority candidate has a good LSAT score we should ignore it and look only at his\her background, life experiences and essays?  Does the LSAT become something that if the student does well on it, then they get a bonus, but if they do not, we ignore it?  How is that fair to other students for whom the LSAT is make or break?

Your suggestions seem to propose different criteria of admission for different races (namely, look at the LSAT for some, not for others).  If we have different criteria of admission for different races, how do we compare candidates from different races?  Or can we not, in which case we have quotas for different races?  What happens if we have two candidates with mostly equal backgrounds (same type of college, same work experience, same socioeconomic status, same extracurriculars, etc.), and one candidate is subject to the "stereotype threat" and the other is not.  What if the candidate not subject to "stereotype threat" has an LSAT score 5 points better?  Or 10 points better?  How do we decide between them if there is only 1 admissions slot?  What if the "stereotype threat" candidate has a 5 point or 10 point better LSAT score.  Should we automatically accept him\her over the other student?  Just because of the LSAT score?  But you suggested we have to ignore the LSAT score for these candidates.  Can we really ignore LSAT scores when making decisions?  How else can candidates be compared (albeit roughly and inexactly) when we all have such different backgrounds?  The LSAT is the one constant for all law school applicants.
 
And even though I apparently "missed the point," you finished your statement by making the very error that I'm questioning: "Red's point has simply been that you make this imperfect science much better if you account for stereotype threat when dealing with minority applications."  Well, HOW do we account for the "stereoytpe threat when dealing with minority applications"?  Falling back on "holistic examination" is precisely the type of soft thinking I'm trying to work around.  I'm honestly interested in this question because AA is something i support, but I'm not sure how to make it as workable in practice as I would like.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: H4CS on July 23, 2006, 11:08:18 AM
C00per6, you're completely off-point.  This whole thread had demonstrated that LSAT scores only make sense in context and that the process of AA is a contextualization process by which these scores can be better understood.  Arguments that AA is a sledgehammer not suited to discern the difference between those who suffered greatly from issues such as stereotype threat and those who didn't have these same challenges also miss the point.  When people say that a holisitic approach is needed, they are addressing this point, arguing that empowering adcoms to consider all available relevant factors (SES, race, other challenging circumstances) that a committee can better understand the merit of an application.  Without AA, it's not possible to contextualize in this manner at all and the LSAT becomes a meaningless metric.  It's like arguing that adcoms can't look at the difficulty of your major, the size of your courseload, or the quality of your ugrad institution when comparing your GPA to another student's.  This info adds the context to make your GPA meaningful when compared.  All that this thread has needed to show was that the LSAT operates in a similar way and I think red's done a commendable job attempting to show this.

And red, we've hit the point where I fully disagree with you both on argumentative methodology and on principle when it comes to stereotype threat.  I'm going to start a new thread in a few days after I get my sources together and I get back in town, but I think a lot of my fears at the beginning of this thread seem to be validated.  In short, instead of turning to social psych to explain why the LSAT seems to be racially biased, I think it's time to turn to the test itself, the way that it's administered, the way that students are prepared for it, the ways that various students are encouraged to take it, and the way the test is created and perpetuated.  I think these factors go further than stereotype threat.  In short, I think the problem isn't that URM students are wrongly convinced that the LSAT is stacked against them; I think that it is (which is then may be exacerbated by stereotype threat).

A quick thought experiment: what would be the results of an experiment designed to measure stereotype threat when students were told that they'd underperform on a test that legitimately was prejudiced against them?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SouthSide on July 23, 2006, 01:41:14 PM
C00per6, you might want to actually read the arguments that have already been made. The theory behind stereotype threat is that, when a stereotyping environment exists in the administration of a standardized test, the results of that test will not be accurate for the minorities who take it, even if the test is accurate as a whole. Thus, your arguments don't really apply. This is condensed, so if you don't follow, go back and read the original couple pages of this thread.


In the studies red. cited, don't we see them not underperforming when told something like "this isn't a measure of your intelligence" -- thus supporting the contention that it is stereotype threat, rather than the test itself, causing the underperformance?

Right. But the studies generally administer a "challenging verbal test," not the LSAT itself. Thus, it is possible that, on top of stereotype threat, the test itself is also biased. I don't believe this to be the case, but i'd be interested in seeing Spaulding's argument.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SouthSide on July 23, 2006, 02:03:10 PM
Whaddayaknow. The NYTimes Magazine has a great article today about the IQ/genes discussion above.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/23/magazine/23wwln_idealab.html?_r=1&oref=slogin (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/23/magazine/23wwln_idealab.html?_r=1&oref=slogin)

Basically, the best recent research shreds the idea that IQ is linked to genes in the way that a lot of posts here have argued.

With the current law school admissions system, if anything, the threat environment on the URM applicant is lower than the white applicant.  Take this hypo of two applicants:

Applicant 1 can get into a school with a LSAT score 6-10 points lower than what is normally required.  As a URM, this applicant is effectively competing against other URMs and not necessarily against 75% of the population.

Applicant 2.  Even with a score in the median, acceptance is still a gamble.  This applicant is competing against a statistical ranking, and must better test-takers from great schools.

As indicated the threat environment is much lower for Applicant 1 (the URM) than Applicant 2 (the white) to perform well on the LSAT.  Within the context of LSAT for admissions, the stereotype threat is a great tool to allow whites to experience a threat environment and subsequent underperformance.  (one might even use practice versus actual LSATs as crude measure)  As per a significant justification for AA, it has many shortcomings.


Do you have any idea of the difference between science and the half-ass theory you came up with in five minutes to post on an interent message board? The stereotype threat hypothesis is based on a number of laboratory tests, which have replicated similar results time and again. Your little hypothetical is just something you made up. If you want to convince a social psychologist to study it, come back and let me know the results. Until then, stop wasting everyone's time.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: BPM on July 23, 2006, 03:00:38 PM

Do you have any idea of the difference between science and the half-ass theory you came up with in five minutes to post on an interent message board? The stereotype threat hypothesis is based on a number of laboratory tests, which have replicated similar results time and again. Your little hypothetical is just something you made up. If you want to convince a social psychologist to study it, come back and let me know the results. Until then, stop wasting everyone's time.


I anticipated that type of knee jerk reaction, precisely on the difference between a scientific and conclusionary analysis.  When one looks at the mechanisms in a scientific manner, the elements are certainly there.  First it affects all groups.  Within the groups it affects those with the most concern.  The action is centered on race as group boundaries, but could very reasonably be based on other criteria such as the self motivated whose parents have lower levels of education, male-female gender, or gays.

From the horse's mouth:

http://www.vpcomm.umich.edu/admissions/research/expert/steele.html

In subsequent years, our research has revealed several important parameters of the effect of stereotype threat on standardized test performance. First, it can interfere with the test performance of any group whose abilities are negatively stereotyped in the larger society: Women taking difficult math tests; lower-class French students taking a difficult language exam; older people taking a difficult memory test; White male athletes being given a test of natural athletic ability; White males taking a difficult math test on which they are told "Asians do better"; as well as Hispanic students at the University of Texas being given a difficult English test. This research shows stereotype threat to be a very general effect, one that is undoubtedly capable of undermining the standardized test performance of any group negatively stereotyped in the area of achievement tested by the test.

We have also discovered that the detrimental effect of stereotype threat on test performance is greatest for those students who are the most invested in doing well on the test. As an intimidation, one might expect that it would affect the weakest students most. But this is not what happens. Across our research, stereotype threat most impaired students who were the most identified with achievement, those who were also the most skilled, motivated, and confident--the academic vanguard of the group more than the academic rearguard.

This fact had been beneath our noses all along in our data and even in our theory. A person has to care about a domain in order to be disturbed by the prospect of being stereotyped in it. So all of our earlier experiments had selected participants who were identified with the domain of the test involved--Black students identified with verbal skills and women identified with math. But we had not tested participants who were less identified with these domains. When we did, what had been beneath our noses hit us in the face. None of these disidentified students showed any effect of stereotype threat whatsoever. Nothing.

Now make no mistake, these disidentified students did not perform well on the tests. Like anyone who does not care, they would start the test, discover its difficulty, stop trying very hard and get a lower score. But their performance did not differ depending on whether they were at risk of being judged stereotypically--their performance was the same regardless of whether they had been told it was their ability we were testing.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Infinity on July 23, 2006, 03:07:38 PM
C00per6, you're completely off-point.  This whole thread had demonstrated that LSAT scores only make sense in context and that the process of AA is a contextualization process by which these scores can be better understood.  Arguments that AA is a sledgehammer not suited to discern the difference between those who suffered greatly from issues such as stereotype threat and those who didn't have these same challenges also miss the point.  When people say that a holisitic approach is needed, they are addressing this point, arguing that empowering adcoms to consider all available relevant factors (SES, race, other challenging circumstances) that a committee can better understand the merit of an application.  Without AA, it's not possible to contextualize in this manner at all and the LSAT becomes a meaningless metric.  It's like arguing that adcoms can't look at the difficulty of your major, the size of your courseload, or the quality of your ugrad institution when comparing your GPA to another student's.  This info adds the context to make your GPA meaningful when compared.  All that this thread has needed to show was that the LSAT operates in a similar way and I think red's done a commendable job attempting to show this.

I don't understand what you mean when you say that: "Without AA, it's not possible to contextualize in this manner at all and the LSAT becomes a meaningless metric."  First of all, why is contextualization impossible without AA?  Do not admissions officers look closely at candidates' applications regardless of race and take into account challenging circumstances? 

Second of all, without AA, LSATs become a meaningless metric?  Why is that?  What is meaningless about them?  Obviously when comparing GPAs across candidates you have to take into account the school, the major, etc.  The ENTIRE point of the LSAT is that you should not need to contextualize it because it should be a standardized test.  However, the argument about "stereotype threat" undermines its supposed objectivity.  So either the solution is: (1) ignore LSAT scores completely for some groups or for everyone, or (2) provide a benefit for students subject to "stereotype threat," whether by boosting scores or by weighting non-LSAT factors more heavily.  I believe the first option is a poor choice, so my question is: how do we do take the second option and employ it in a fair and meritocratic way?  I don't think we can.  Instead, I think AA operates, in practice, on unfair and unmeritocratic reasons because of societal benefits unrelated to fairness or merit (e.g., making society less racially stratified, increasing diversity, etc.).  I disagree with Red and others who say that AA can be defended purely on the basis of fairness or merit.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Infinity on July 23, 2006, 03:15:11 PM
C00per6, you might want to actually read the arguments that have already been made. The theory behind stereotype threat is that, when a stereotyping environment exists in the administration of a standardized test, the results of that test will not be accurate for the minorities who take it, even if the test is accurate as a whole. Thus, your arguments don't really apply. This is condensed, so if you don't follow, go back and read the original couple pages of this thread.


Yes yes yes, suggest that I haven't read the posts, good way to avoid responding to my questions.  My arguments really have little to do with "stereotype threat" itself, so I don't see why my "arguments don't really apply."  My point, instead, is, how do you concretely implement AA in admissions decisions in a fair and meritocratic manner if we assume that "stereotype threat" exists and is the explanation for a gap in LSAT scores between members of different races.  People have proposed extensive "contextualization" and "holistic" examination, neither of which seem solutions to me in that i think context and holistic approaches are important for all applicants regardless of race.  What specifically will be the difference when adcoms review the files of applicants subject to the "stereotype threat" and those not? 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: bass on July 23, 2006, 03:22:59 PM
C00per6, you might want to actually read the arguments that have already been made. The theory behind stereotype threat is that, when a stereotyping environment exists in the administration of a standardized test, the results of that test will not be accurate for the minorities who take it, even if the test is accurate as a whole. Thus, your arguments don't really apply. This is condensed, so if you don't follow, go back and read the original couple pages of this thread.


Yes yes yes, suggest that I haven't read the posts, good way to avoid responding to my questions.  My arguments really have little to do with "stereotype threat" itself, so I don't see why my "arguments don't really apply."  My point, instead, is, how do you concretely implement AA in admissions decisions in a fair and meritocratic manner if we assume that "stereotype threat" exists and is the explanation for a gap in LSAT scores between members of different races.  People have proposed extensive "contextualization" and "holistic" examination, neither of which seem solutions to me in that i think context and holistic approaches are important for all applicants regardless of race.  What specifically will be the difference when adcoms review the files of applicants subject to the "stereotype threat" and those not? 

As a philosophy lover not at all invested in this sort of discussion, let me provide this entirely unsatisfactory answer to your question.

This thread is concerned with the question of justification: Why is AA justified?

Your posts seem to be concerned with an entirely different question: how can meritocratic AA be implemented?  This is an interesting and I think difficult question, even for the strongest supporters of AA.  But it's not the question at hand.

If you'll accept Red.'s arguments that AA is justified, then we can move the practical questions of implementation to another thread (perhaps with some smart policy people).  I, for one, prefer to keep my head in the clouds.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Infinity on July 23, 2006, 03:29:36 PM
This is outside the scope of this conversation, but it is important to a conversation about AA (in my opinion). . .

Law School is not an end.  It is a means to the end of becoming a lawyer.  By looking at the admissions process, law school starts to look like a destination instead of what it really is: a trade school to create lawyers.

Given that those URMs who successfully graduate and pass the bar make great lawyers that are highly likely to give back to their communities and given that some minority members of the community may not trust a white lawyer (due to stereotypes and prejudice that exists on both sides) and that these members of the community will only be adequately served by minority lawyers, shouldn't we do whatever we can to create those minority lawyers?  I see it as irrelvant if those lawyers were not the top students at their law school for whatever reason (stereotype thread, test anxiety, poor early education offered by poor public schools, lack of role models in the family to encourage "book learning" as valuable, etc. etc. etc.)  If in the end the minorities who pass school and the bar make great lawyers who can serve in ways that white lawyers cannot, then we need to do whatever is needed to ensure that minority applicants make it into law school.


I agree with you mostly Aerynn, however, i have two qualms, one small, one big. 

First, I do not think that law school is a trade school: if it was a trade school, it would be focused mainly on passing the bar or doing concrete lawyer things, like legal writing and research.  Instead, i view it as a strand within a liberal arts education, but this point is mostly irrelevant to AA so I'll leave it aside.

Second, your great point about the need for lawyers of different races leaves open the question about the necessity of AA.  Applicants from races who score more poorly than they should on LSATs will generally still get into law schools, but at ones ranked lower than they otherwise would have.  If the only important thing is to make sure that URMs get into law school, that will happen in the current system.  The current system, though, would preclude minority lawyers in the top schools without AA.  So you would need to add to your arguement for minority lawyers to explain why there should be an equal distribution in all law schools, even if the URMs in top schools were not "the top students."  I agree that this is important, but it does not follow from your argument alone, I don't think.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Infinity on July 23, 2006, 03:31:43 PM

As a philosophy lover not at all invested in this sort of discussion, let me provide this entirely unsatisfactory answer to your question.

This thread is concerned with the question of justification: Why is AA justified?

Your posts seem to be concerned with an entirely different question: how can meritocratic AA be implemented?  This is an interesting and I think difficult question, even for the strongest supporters of AA.  But it's not the question at hand.

If you'll accept Red.'s arguments that AA is justified, then we can move the practical questions of implementation to another thread (perhaps with some smart policy people).  I, for one, prefer to keep my head in the clouds.


I'm actually a philosophy student\lover as well (i guess that makes me a lover of a lover of wisdom).  However, i don't believe philosophy is disconnected from practice (i think that's the failing of most philosophers--i'm a pragmatist).  If a meritocratic AA is impossible to implement, then i think that AA cannot be justified on grounds of merit.  I don't believe justification precedes plausibility.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 23, 2006, 03:39:26 PM
No one has argued that law schools perfectly accomplish this currently, but this is what they are attempting to do. Obviously, this will always be an imperfect science, and you can never be sure of which applicants will truly make up the "best" class. I think the whole argument begins with the assumption, however, that admissions as a whole is a very imperfect science, and it is nearly impossible to make accurate judgments about any applicant. Red's point has simply been that you make this imperfect science much better if you account for stereotype threat when dealing with minority applications.

I'm not certain that's entirely been her argument, by my point is that this line is not convincing for people who, as I said earlier, buy into the cult of individuality.

I think aerynn's right - I personally don't care exactly how you describe the root(s) of the bias or exactly what system you choose to deal with it, but I think something should be done.  I'm mushy that way.


If you buy into the "cult of individuality," you should be far more willing to look at individual applications holistically, rather than blindly assume that a student with a 175 is better than one with a 168.

And the problem with being "mushy" is that it doesn't lead us anywhere specific. Meaningless feel-good-ism can result in all sorts of harmful policies. I think we should take these problems seriously and rigorously examine what the best responses are.


Hmm... I think there's an equivocation of terms (mushy) here.  I don't think that there was actually much "meaningless feel-good-ism" exhibited in either archival's or aerynn's post.  They seem to lead us someplace specific: admit a higher percentage of your qualified African American applicants, regardless of how their numerical entry credentials stack up against white applicants', for the good of the profession.  I don't think that this is the only reasonable basis for affirmative action/diminished reliance on the LSAT in admissions (and red.'s ST argument may provide another, among others), but it seems a perfectly good one to me.  If the profession needed more patent lawyers, we'd admit more people with hard science degrees, even if their writing wasn't quite as elegant as the history majors', I'd imagine.  (These are not symmetrical, of course, given the pervasive systemic racism in our society, but they are reasonably analogous as admissions practices.)
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: bass on July 23, 2006, 03:41:05 PM

As a philosophy lover not at all invested in this sort of discussion, let me provide this entirely unsatisfactory answer to your question.

This thread is concerned with the question of justification: Why is AA justified?

Your posts seem to be concerned with an entirely different question: how can meritocratic AA be implemented?  This is an interesting and I think difficult question, even for the strongest supporters of AA.  But it's not the question at hand.

If you'll accept Red.'s arguments that AA is justified, then we can move the practical questions of implementation to another thread (perhaps with some smart policy people).  I, for one, prefer to keep my head in the clouds.


I'm actually a philosophy student\lover as well (i guess that makes me a lover of a lover of wisdom).  However, i don't believe philosophy is disconnected from practice (i think that's the failing of most philosophers--i'm a pragmatist).  If a meritocratic AA is impossible to implement, then i think that AA cannot be justified on grounds of merit.  I don't believe justification precedes plausibility.

Obviously I was joking somewhat, and certainly there are many who agree with you that questions of justification should notbe divorced from questions of practice.

But we need to agree, I think, on the terms of the argument, and we need to keep things tidy. 

So let me ask you this:  Assume for a second that, if AA is justified, there is some meritocratic implementation of it that is at least better than no AA.  Is AA justified on the grounds that Red. provides?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 23, 2006, 03:44:39 PM
No one has argued that law schools perfectly accomplish this currently, but this is what they are attempting to do. Obviously, this will always be an imperfect science, and you can never be sure of which applicants will truly make up the "best" class. I think the whole argument begins with the assumption, however, that admissions as a whole is a very imperfect science, and it is nearly impossible to make accurate judgments about any applicant. Red's point has simply been that you make this imperfect science much better if you account for stereotype threat when dealing with minority applications.

I'm not certain that's entirely been her argument, by my point is that this line is not convincing for people who, as I said earlier, buy into the cult of individuality.

I think aerynn's right - I personally don't care exactly how you describe the root(s) of the bias or exactly what system you choose to deal with it, but I think something should be done.  I'm mushy that way.


If you buy into the "cult of individuality," you should be far more willing to look at individual applications holistically, rather than blindly assume that a student with a 175 is better than one with a 168.

And the problem with being "mushy" is that it doesn't lead us anywhere specific. Meaningless feel-good-ism can result in all sorts of harmful policies. I think we should take these problems seriously and rigorously examine what the best responses are.


Hmm... I think there's an equivocation of terms (mushy) here.  I don't think that there was actually much "meaningless feel-good-ism" exhibited in either archival's or aerynn's post.  They seem to lead us someplace specific: admit a higher percentage of your qualified African American applicants, regardless of how their numerical entry credentials stack up against white applicants', for the good of the profession.  I don't think that this is the only reasonable basis for affirmative action/diminished reliance on the LSAT in admissions (and red.'s ST argument may provide another, among others), but it seems a perfectly good one to me.  If the profession needed more patent lawyers, we'd admit more people with hard science degrees, even if their writing wasn't quite as elegant as the history majors', I'd imagine.  (These are not symmetrical, of course, given the pervasive systemic racism in our society, but they are reasonably analogous as admissions practices.)

The only problem with this line of thinking MissP is that you're essentially asserting a quota system, which, as regards race, is unconstitutional.

No, I'm not.  Grutter distinguishes this attention to the diversity of the profession -- which at this point is the only expressly constitutional rationale for AA -- from quotas specifically.  I'm not talking about percentage representation; I'm talking about increasing representation.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Infinity on July 23, 2006, 03:56:20 PM
Obviously I was joking somewhat, and certainly there are many who agree with you that questions of justification should notbe divorced from questions of practice.

But we need to agree, I think, on the terms of the argument, and we need to keep things tidy. 

So let me ask you this:  Assume for a second that, if AA is justified, there is some meritocratic implementation of it that is at least better than no AA.  Is AA justified on the grounds that Red. provides?

I think i would agree, but its hard for me to say for sure without knowing the specific manner of meritocratic implementation.  I'm generally very skeptical of specific practices being justified by theories of abstract right (fairness, merit, etc.).  But, as I said in an earlier post, I think Red's arguments do justify AA in theory, just not in practice.  And, I do think that AA is justified in practice, just not on meritocratic grounds.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: bass on July 23, 2006, 03:59:29 PM
Obviously I was joking somewhat, and certainly there are many who agree with you that questions of justification should notbe divorced from questions of practice.

But we need to agree, I think, on the terms of the argument, and we need to keep things tidy. 

So let me ask you this:  Assume for a second that, if AA is justified, there is some meritocratic implementation of it that is at least better than no AA.  Is AA justified on the grounds that Red. provides?

I think i would agree, but its hard for me to say for sure without knowing the specific manner of meritocratic implementation.  I'm generally very skeptical of specific practices being justified by theories of abstract right (fairness, merit, etc.).  But, as I said in an earlier post, I think Red's arguments do justify AA in theory, just not in practice.  And, I do think that AA is justified in practice, just not on meritocratic grounds.

I see.  Perhaps there should be another thread that can provide a forum for AA practice, under the assumption that it is theoretical justified on the grounds described here.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 23, 2006, 04:03:29 PM
No, I'm not.  Grutter distinguishes this attention to the diversity of the profession -- which at this point is the only expressly constitutional rationale for AA -- from quotas specifically.  I'm not talking about percentage representation; I'm talking about increasing representation.

I don't know who Grutter is or what they say, but my understanding is that diversity can be weighted (say, give URMs an extra point in the admissions process) but it cannot be the sole reason for admission, which seemed to be what you were suggesting when you said that law schools would take more hard science majors to fill the specific gap of patent lawyers.  If this is the case, then AA is being practiced non-meritocratically.  But I apologize for misinterpreting your words, and thanks for pointing out my mistake.

Grutter is the Michigan affirmative action case about law school admissions.  It actually specifically says that a point-based system (as Michigan employed in undergarduate admissions) is unconstitutional.  The majority endorsed a holistic review of applications with attention to diversity (for institutions that found this to be a reasonable goal).  

I don't know exactly what you mean about AA "being practiced non-meritocratically," as I think that merit is a very weighted term.  (I am not saying this to be snide or critical; I actually don't know exactly what you are getting at.)  My position is merely that it's good for everyone to have diverse law schools and a diverse profession.  Schools have many more qualified applicants than they need to fill the class, and they have to make admissions decisions on bases beyond the minimal qualifications of applicants.  Schools have generally chosen to rely largely on a ranking of LSAT and GPA with very little attention to the context of these scores or to the very plausible idea that there is minor or no difference between a 169 scorer and a 175 scorer.  I would set up different criteria, as some schools have done, with more attention to race, SES, career goals, educational background, etc.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Infinity on July 23, 2006, 04:12:37 PM
Grutter is the Michigan affirmative action case about law school admissions.  It actually specifically says that a point-based system (as Michigan employed in undergarduate admissions) is unconstitutional.  The majority endorsed a holistic review of applications with attention to diversity (for institutions that found this to be a reasonable goal). 

I don't know exactly what you mean about AA "being practiced non-meritocratically," as I think that merit is a very weighted term.  (I am not saying this to be snide or critical; I actually don't know exactly what you are getting at.)  My position is merely that it's good for everyone to have diverse law schools and a diverse profession.  Schools have many more qualified applicants than they need to fill the class, and they have to make admissions decisions on bases beyond the minimal qualifications of applicants.  Schools have generally chosen to rely largely on a ranking of LSAT and GPA with very little attention to the context of these scores or to the very plausible idea that there is little difference between a 169 scorer and a 175 scorer.  I would set up different criteria, as some schools have done, with more attention to race, SES, career goals, educational background, etc.

Heh, don't i look foolish not knowing "grutter" now?  I just know the cases as the Michigan cases, not by the other names.  But i apologize for my ignorance (i, naively, assumed you were citing some sociologist or psychologist, and didn't even bother googling it).

And certainly "merit" is a charged and somewhat-ambiguous term.  However, rather than get into a debate on terms, I think we can agree on a rough notion of legal merit as the apptitude someone has for being a lawyer (e.g., ability to analyze complex legal ideas, write well in a legal manner, speak well on legal topics, etc.).  Since we would agree (i assume) that race has little to do with one's intelligence directly (perhaps because a person is a certain race they are more likely to get certain educational advantages, but assuming all other things are equal), then the idea of merit would not include any idea of race.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Infinity on July 23, 2006, 04:17:32 PM
I see.  Perhaps there should be another thread that can provide a forum for AA practice, under the assumption that it is theoretical justified on the grounds described here.

That might be a good idea---I've posted my question here because i think it pertains to Red's quest for a meritocratic justification of AA, but if others choose to try to help me answer it here or elsewhere, i'll listen and respond if i can. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: thorc954 on July 23, 2006, 04:23:31 PM
My position is merely that it's good for everyone to have diverse law schools and a diverse profession.  
[/quote]


If we are all truely created equal, why is diversity something we should even care about?  We should fill spots in top law schools with top applicants. Okay, assuming I agree with stereotype threat, this would suggest that some URMs are equally or more qualified then those at the top schools. Great, admit them as well. The fact that people care about diversifying is what is so wrong about AA. Efforts should simply be made to give qualified canidates compensation for a biased testing situation, not to ensure that every class has five blacks, two asians, a bisexual and a transvestite.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 23, 2006, 06:35:41 PM
Quote from: miss p
My position is merely that it's good for everyone to have diverse law schools and a diverse profession.  


If we are all truely created equal, why is diversity something we should even care about?  We should fill spots in top law schools with top applicants. Okay, assuming I agree with stereotype threat, this would suggest that some URMs are equally or more qualified then those at the top schools. Great, admit them as well. The fact that people care about diversifying is what is so wrong about AA. Efforts should simply be made to give qualified canidates compensation for a biased testing situation, not to ensure that every class has five blacks, two asians, a bisexual and a transvestite.

We-ell, I would say that we are not created equal, at least not if creation includes circumstances of birth, and then of life.  But you're correct that red.'s thread was designed to specifically exclude this debate, so I'm going to leave it there for now.  I came in merely to defend aerynn and archival from SouthSide's (hi SouthSide!) accusations of being vague, not to start another discussion about whether diversity is a legitimate consideration in admissions.  I think it very clearly is, and I would challenge you to imagine a sector of public life that does not have a racial dimension if you don't.  But it doesn't really have much bearing on this discussion here.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 23, 2006, 06:50:50 PM
Grutter is the Michigan affirmative action case about law school admissions.  It actually specifically says that a point-based system (as Michigan employed in undergarduate admissions) is unconstitutional.  The majority endorsed a holistic review of applications with attention to diversity (for institutions that found this to be a reasonable goal). 

I don't know exactly what you mean about AA "being practiced non-meritocratically," as I think that merit is a very weighted term.  (I am not saying this to be snide or critical; I actually don't know exactly what you are getting at.)  My position is merely that it's good for everyone to have diverse law schools and a diverse profession.  Schools have many more qualified applicants than they need to fill the class, and they have to make admissions decisions on bases beyond the minimal qualifications of applicants.  Schools have generally chosen to rely largely on a ranking of LSAT and GPA with very little attention to the context of these scores or to the very plausible idea that there is little difference between a 169 scorer and a 175 scorer.  I would set up different criteria, as some schools have done, with more attention to race, SES, career goals, educational background, etc.

Heh, don't i look foolish not knowing "grutter" now?  I just know the cases as the Michigan cases, not by the other names.  But i apologize for my ignorance (i, naively, assumed you were citing some sociologist or psychologist, and didn't even bother googling it).

And certainly "merit" is a charged and somewhat-ambiguous term.  However, rather than get into a debate on terms, I think we can agree on a rough notion of legal merit as the apptitude someone has for being a lawyer (e.g., ability to analyze complex legal ideas, write well in a legal manner, speak well on legal topics, etc.).  Since we would agree (i assume) that race has little to do with one's intelligence directly (perhaps because a person is a certain race they are more likely to get certain educational advantages, but assuming all other things are equal), then the idea of merit would not include any idea of race.

Darned fifteen-second rule wiped out my post!  I think it was way longer than fifteen seconds, too!

First, don't be silly.  You don't look foolish or naive or ignorant for not knowing the name of the case; I feel narrow-minded.  I sincerely apologize if my post sounded corrective or dismissive.  I was just trying to write quickly because I don't have much time on the computer and I probably spared some of my habitual charm. (Ha ha.)

I would like to employ a more expansive definition of merit that includes the contribution to the profession or to a community that a prospective student might eventually make, but I understand that this probably sounds hopelessly mushy, to return to the buzzword of this line of posts.  But you're certainly right that an affirmative consideration of racial diversity is not a per se meritocratic process, if merit is defined in the more narrow terms you use (intelligence, certain training-based skills, etc.).  But it is red's argument that if we do not consider race, we are not appropriately assessing a candidate's (narrowly defined) merit because we are overrelying on a biased instrument that has predictive value for white students' performance and bar passage and much less predictive value for black students' performance and bar passage.  (This isn't exactly what she said, but I believe it is borne out by the literature.)  I was arguing that a school can appropriately consider (narrowly defined) merit (and only admit meritorious applicants) while also considering an applicant's potential contribution to the school, profession, or community in other ways. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 24, 2006, 08:06:43 AM
Hey -- this discussion has perked up a lot.  :)

I suppose that I should clarify my stance w.r.t. what I am (and what I am not) suggesting, and, in so doing, respond to at least some of the questions that have been raised.

The frame

1. I am targeting my attention on the T14 schools, and engaging the debate strictly on the basis of scholastic merit1. This is because scholastic merit is the criterion against which the people who argue against affirmative action frame the debate. One can imagine other qualities that may be relevant: “leadership”, etc., but these complicate the issue from the outset, when, for the sake of ease of discussion, I would rather that they complicated the issue at the end of the discussion.

2. I am defining “affirmative action” as any admissions process that does not systematically discriminate against equally-qualified black, hispanic and native american applicants;

3. I am focusing on what is properly achieved at the law school admissions stage rather than earlier or later in the pipline.


The justification


The social psych explanation is, I think, particularly relevant when the grounds for debate are framed in the above way. Stereotype threat:

a) most affects those URM candidates that are the most qualified & motivated;

b) operates at a level below consciousness, making it particularly resistant to a bootsrap rebuttal;

c) fits not only the size of the gap in LSAT scores between equally qualified URM and non-URM candidates, but also explains intra-”race” disparities in score performance2;

d) explains why the index number correlates with URM performance in law school3; and,

e) (I think persuasively) answers the following common questions:
--“why should the sons and daughters of  rich black folk benefit from affirmative action when the chidren of Appalachian coalminers don’t?”

--“how black/hispanic/native american do I have to be in order to mark the box?”

I want to be clear that while I do acknowledge the merit of socio-economic (including social capital) explanations for the disparate distribution of index scores, I think that such explanations and justifications are, in the end, insufficient4.  Race itself matters, independent of social networks, income, access to mentors, etc.


Remedies

Now, there are a number of ways that one can imagine remedying what would, in the absence of some kind of affirmative action, be an admissions process that was systematically biased against black, hispanic, and native american applicants.

These range from

(i) the way that things seem to be done now;

(ii) to the Guinier and Sturm proposal of constructing an incoming class by weighted lottery;

(iii) to the stochastic process suggested by Adehmar;

(iv) to the kind of  process that that I would favor -- the development and use of a longer, harder test instrument that doesn’t discriminate by race, that makes finer distinctions in reasoning and (other) thinking skills, and that better predicts future performance as a law student.


I can imagine reasonable arguments being made for any of these kinds of proposals6.

But I can not see any argument that could reasonably be made for relying on a system whose greatest strength is in identifying and punishing blacks, hispanics and native americans, and whose weakest feature is identifying applicants’ potential as lawyers or law students.

The real problems with the current admissions system -- a process that distils societal racism, injects it into the heart of the process,  & then tries to make up for it -- are not that it is unfair, unmeritocratic, or “reverse-discriminatory”, but that it unecessarily stigmatizes URMs, and that it makes it all too easy to put off changes in the law school environment itself. No wonder, then, that it is under constant challenge, and no wonder it is (apparently) so bloody hard to explain to the great unwashed (including the Supreme Court).

When challenged, law schools are forced to defend affirmative action not on the grounds of merit, but on the grounds of academic “diversity”5. The academic diversity defense seems to me to be terribly weak -- morally and legally -- and I myself would not support race-based affirmative action if the justification for it were on that ground.


__________________

1"Acquired skills relevant to the study of law". I figure that we all more or less agree on what this means -- ability to follow and anticipate a line of inquiry; to read properly; to see shades of meaning; and to think critically, independently, and imaginatively.

2Ethiopian-Americans or Nigerian immigrants, for example, are likely to be less susceptible to stereotype effect than the descendants of slaves; and Filipinos are likely to be more susceptible to it than Koreans; etc.

3Of course, LSAT overpredicts URM performance in law school. The size of the over-prediction is probably a measure of the extent to which the law school experience is hostile to URM students.

4 Just look at the experience of the California schools that attempted to achieve diversity through SES-focused admissions processes. Each of these experiments was an utter failure.

5 The scholastic diversity argument is different, I think, than the professional diversity argument that Miss P has hinted at. I don't find the latter persuasive, but the former is, I think, particularly flawed as grounds for affirmative action. It seems, first, oddly patronizing: “the white kids at Michigan or Texas or Berkeley (i.e. the ones who really deserve to be there) learn better when they have blacks in their Section who can tell them about how law intersects with life in the ghetto”. Second, it strikes me as a dishonest claim, and one cynically tailored to appeal to an audience that is all too willing to work from the unstated premise of URM inferiority.

6By the way, I don't see what is so fuzzy about looking at applications holistically. On the contrary, it strikes me that that is the way to achieve a greater measure of accuracy in judging an applicants' scholastic merit and potential. And no, they don't look at everyone holistically -- they assume that the 3.8/175 is bright and motivated and admit him/her automatically (what I have read suggests that approximately half of each class at schools such as Penn, CLS, Harvard is admitted automatically in this way), when we all know that that is not necessarily so: you can show 3.8/175 and be as dumb as a brick.

In any case, I am absolutely not arguing for a system that blindly adds 6-4-2 points to every black-hispanic-native american applicant’s index number.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 24, 2006, 08:46:45 AM
I disagree with Red and others who say that AA can be defended purely on the basis of fairness or merit.

I would be interested in hearing more about this.

Do you think that I have not sufficiently problematized the assumption that the LSAT is a straight race-neutral measure of reasoning proficiency?

Thanks for your posts, by the way.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 24, 2006, 08:53:54 AM
And red, we've hit the point where I fully disagree with you both on argumentative methodology and on principle when it comes to stereotype threat.  I'm going to start a new thread in a few days after I get my sources together and I get back in town, but I think a lot of my fears at the beginning of this thread seem to be validated.  In short, instead of turning to social psych to explain why the LSAT seems to be racially biased, I think it's time to turn to the test itself, the way that it's administered, the way that students are prepared for it, the ways that various students are encouraged to take it, and the way the test is created and perpetuated.  I think these factors go further than stereotype threat.  In short, I think the problem isn't that URM students are wrongly convinced that the LSAT is stacked against them; I think that it is (which is then may be exacerbated by stereotype threat).

I look forward to this.

A quick thought experiment: what would be the results of an experiment designed to measure stereotype threat when students were told that they'd underperform on a test that legitimately was prejudiced against them?

Not sure about what the outcome of this would be, actually.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 24, 2006, 08:56:51 AM
From the horse's mouth:

http://www.vpcomm.umich.edu/admissions/research/expert/steele.html

I am starting to seriously doubt your reading comprehension skills. I also note that you have chosen not to respond to the straight-up question that I asked you. I am neither impressed nor persuaded.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 24, 2006, 09:13:31 AM

I think you are digging away too much of your own foundation here. It will be very hard to sustain an argument that "merit" alone can be used as the basis of affirmative action in admissions, without any consideration of justice in a larger societal sense.......

You could still ..... argue for affirmative action. You would argue that earlier corrective action is needed as well as using affirmative action to level the playing field while the corrective actions are taking place.

I am not persuaded that this kind of basis for affirmative action would constitute anything other than a process of making up the numbers without regard to scholastic merit.

Take, for example, the case of URM candidates in the lower end of the index score distribution whose grades and LSAT scores are poor because they have disidentified from acadmic achievement. Imagine that they have so disidentified because of the effects of racism - they are underprepared, they are expected to not do well, they tune out, and their academic preparation is therefore not up to scratch. In such a situation, affirmative action is entirely the wrong corrective. There is nothing to be gained from it; it is unfair to those candidates who are prepared and motivated; and it will only act as a form of "social promotion".

I also feel this way about the extra consideration given to socio-economic background. Unprepared is unprepared, and there's no way around it.

I do think that affirmative action can be defended solely on the grounds of academic merit, and I don't think that the numbers of those URMs admitted to top law schools under that justification would be entirely different than the numbers currently admitted under the diversity justification.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Freak on July 24, 2006, 09:16:33 AM
I do think that affirmative action can be defended solely on the grounds of academic merit, and I don't think that the numbers of those URMs admitted to top law schools under that justification would be entirely different than the numbers currently admitted under the diversity justification.

Practically speaking, then, what's the point?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 24, 2006, 09:22:07 AM
Anyway, Red, I asked a question a few pages back. How do you defend the GPA gap between blacks and whites?

It seems like those accepted at the T14 have both lower lsats and gpas then their white counterparts.

The GPA gap between those black candidates whose index numbers predict that they will perform in the bottom 10% of the law school class and those white candidates who are also predicted to perform in the lowest 10% is statistically insignificant - about 0.1. It's not GPA that would kill their chances in the absence of affirmative action, but the LSAT.

There are a number of reasons why the GPA varies by race: URM applicants tend to have come from lower SES, tend to have attended schools less plagued by grade inflation, etc.

There's more to this, but I want to come back to it later, when we've got fewer balls in the air.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: philibusters on July 24, 2006, 10:04:06 AM
Red said "e) (I think persuasively) answers the following common questions:
--“why should the sons and daughters of  rich black folk benefit from affirmative action when the chidren of Appalachian coalminers don’t?”


To me the key word in the quote was "should"--it doesn't necessarily say why they do, though at other points she has argued that AA is in part a response to flaws of the LSAT- Still assuming one takes stereotype threat as explained by Red as a reason why AA is jusitificed based on merit of the applicants, then there is still room for other threads that focus on the historical and political realities behind it,  unless of course we assume the lawschools use AA policies purely for reasons of merit.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: BPM on July 24, 2006, 10:14:45 AM
From the horse's mouth:

http://www.vpcomm.umich.edu/admissions/research/expert/steele.html

I am starting to seriously doubt your reading comprehension skills. I also note that you have chosen not to respond to the straight-up question that I asked you. I am neither impressed nor persuaded.


once pre-existing social anxiety levels are accounted for, I almost guarantee the differences, other than innate skills, will disappear.

hence the unfairness of relabelling test anxiety, a condition that affects all populations, to "stereotype threat" so that one can draw conclusions that benefit some and exclude others.

Look, you seem stuck on this point, and it strikes me that you likely suffer from ADHD or test anxiety. Fair enough. No-one here is trying to exclude you from law school.

I do think, however, that you should try to keep your eye on the ball. You are the one doing the re-labeling to suit your purposes, and with disregard for the information that I have posted.

In the very first couple of posts, I showed you experimental evidence that, for example, people with nearly perfect scores in the math portion of the SAT succumbed to the stereotype effect when exposed to particular stereotype triggers.

How does this square with your statement that: "hence the unfairness of relabelling test anxiety, a condition that affects all populations, to "stereotype threat" so that one can draw conclusions that benefit some and exclude others"?  That's a straight question, and I expect a straight answer from you.



In general there is no need to respond when the other side is trying terribly hard to discredit themself; especially with the level of erroneous personal attack, and lack of composure you've displayed.  To indulge however, it is fairly obvious that anxiety plays a significant part of the difference.  The answer was provided to another more civil poster, and I can repost if you wish to respond in a similar manner.

First, let's make this simple.  Separate the factual evidence from the conclusion.

FACT:
black subjects experience stereotype threat and perform lower
women experience stereotype threat and perform lower
white men experience stereotype threat and perform lower
older subjects experience stereotype threat and perform lower
the threat was shown to be eliminated by diversion in both black and women subjects

YOUR CONCLUSION:
because black subjects experienced stereotype threat, AA is justified

The hollowness of that argument is farily obvious, though I'll repeat:  it ignores the mountains of evidence of stereotype threat within non-black candidates.

Examine each of the excluded groups, where stereotype threat was shown to be FACTUALLY present in laboratory experiments.  If women perform lower due to perceived math abilities, the stereotypes of logical/analytical reasoning would also affect their LSAT scores.  If white men experience stereotype threat when coupled with asian men, the logical games portion might also show a handicap.  Furthermore there was no evidence this threat was confined only to math skills.  The stereotype of Asians lacking in communications and verbal skills is also prominent.

The question for you then, if each of these groups were shown to succumb to the effects of stereotype threat in laboratory conditions arguably similar to the LSAT, shouldn't they also receive similar considerations as your conclusion suggests?

AA is certainly justified, though not on the grounds you've provided.  There really isn't much else to say, and thanks for the 2-cent internet psychological analysis.  You're wrong on both accounts, but I would suggest reading up on anger management.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Infinity on July 24, 2006, 11:31:10 AM
Red said "e) (I think persuasively) answers the following common questions:
--“why should the sons and daughters of  rich black folk benefit from affirmative action when the chidren of Appalachian coalminers don’t?”


To me the key word in the quote was "should"--it doesn't necessarily say why they do, though at other points she has argued that AA is in part a response to flaws of the LSAT- Still assuming one takes stereotype threat as explained by Red as a reason why AA is jusitificed based on merit of the applicants, then there is still room for other threads that focus on the historical and political realities behind it,  unless of course we assume the lawschools use AA policies purely for reasons of merit.

This was, at least in part, the point Bass made.  I do kind of wish the "should" and "how" could be separated, even though C00per6 disagrees.  C00per6's point, I think, was that without a proper "how-to", there should be no corrective action even with evidence of a disparate impact.  (I find that strange, but whatever.)

That's mostly my point, that the evaluation (and justification) of an idea is not its theoretical soundness but its practical feasibility (see, for instance, communism and other variants of Marxism and utopianism, the Star Wars anti-missile program, neoconservatism, and, the best metaphor of all in my opinion: the Tower of Babel).  By contrast, non-theoretically sound but practically beneficial ideas are often very useful or good: Newton's mechanics, penicillin, sleep, etc.).

Also, I do believe that AA is a good policy right now because of its benefits (an empirical justification), with or without a theoretical justification.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Lily Jaye on July 24, 2006, 01:02:23 PM
i'll admit that i haven't read the whole thread.  i read a lot of it a couple months ago when it started (mostly just what red said).

i have a question though.  my question concerns those who believe AA should be economically based

I can't speak for all of us, but most of the other SES-AA supporters I know think about it in relative terms.  IOW, AA shouldn't be exclusively based on SES, but it should play a far more prominent role than it does now.  Why?  The bulk of academic differences stem from SES.  Moreover, that correlation is probably due to our inane property tax-based public school funding.

Red's talking about something slightly different.  She's talking about the differences in testing once you account for SES, undergrad GPA, etc.


once pre-existing social anxiety levels are accounted for, I almost guarantee the differences, other than innate skills, will disappear.

hence the unfairness of relabelling test anxiety, a condition that affects all populations, to "stereotype threat" so that one can draw conclusions that benefit some and exclude others.

Text anxiety =/= stereotype threat


the end effect is test anxiety.



http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=11414722&dopt=Abstract



Steele's (1992, 1997) stereotype-threat theory attempts to explain underperformance of minority students in academic domains and of women in mathematics. Steele argues that situational self-relevance of negative group stereotypes in testing situations increases the anxiety these students experience and that these differential anxiety levels explain performance differences. Research shows that manipulation of stereotype threat can affect academic performance. However, there has been little research testing whether anxiety does at least partially explain the relationship between race and achievement. The goal of this study was to examine whether anxiety will explain racial differences in academic performance and gender differences in math performance in the context of a nationally representative sample of high school seniors. Partial mediation was observed, with anxiety explaining significant portions of the racial differences in academic performance. Anxiety also partially explained sex differences in math achievement, although the effect sizes were very small. These results provide general support for Steele's stereotype-threat hypothesis. Copyright 2001 Academic Press.

First of all, re-read my post and then re-read your post.  They're saying the same thing: namely, that the two are not equivalent.  While text anxiety may play a substantial role, text anxiety alone does not completely explain the stereotype threat.  After all, the last time I checked, "significant portions" and "partially explained" are not equivalent to "completely explains."

Secondly, anxiety from some sources (i.e., race) may influence people differently than anxiety from others (i.e., tests).  Without being able to see the full study until school starts, I won't be able to say for sure whether this study accurately accounts for those differences. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Infinity on July 24, 2006, 01:15:30 PM
The frame
1. I am targeting my attention on the T14 schools, and engaging the debate strictly on the basis of scholastic merit1. This is because scholastic merit is the criterion against which the people who argue against affirmative action frame the debate. One can imagine other qualities that may be relevant: “leadership”, etc., but these complicate the issue from the outset, when, for the sake of ease of discussion, I would rather that they complicated the issue at the end of the discussion.

2. I am defining “affirmative action” as any admissions process that does not systematically discriminate against equally-qualified black, hispanic and native american applicants;
__________________

1"Acquired skills relevant to the study of law". I figure that we all more or less agree on what this means -- ability to follow and anticipate a line of inquiry; to read properly; to see shades of meaning; and to think critically, independently, and imaginatively.

6By the way, I don't see what is so fuzzy about looking at applications holistically. On the contrary, it strikes me that that is the way to achieve a greater measure of accuracy in judging an applicants' scholastic merit and potential. And no, they don't look at everyone holistically -- they assume that the 3.8/175 is bright and motivated and admit him/her automatically (what I have read suggests that approximately half of each class at schools such as Penn, CLS, Harvard is admitted automatically in this way), when we all know that that is not necessarily so: you can show 3.8/175 and be as dumb as a brick.

In any case, I am absolutely not arguing for a system that blindly adds 6-4-2 points to every black-hispanic-native american applicant’s index number.

I'm going to respond as carefully as I can, Red, since your well-considered post warrants it.  You asked:

"Do you think that I have not sufficiently problematized the assumption that the LSAT is a straight race-neutral measure of reasoning proficiency?"

I take no issue with your problematization of AA.  I am not an expert in social science or on "stereotype threat."  In my postings on this thread, I have assumed as true that "stereoytpe threat" is a real phenomenon that accounts for the gap in LSAT scores between different races.  I leave it to others more skilled in these areasto critique your argument on whether "stereotype threat" is real or accounts for the entire gap.  Thus, in all my postings on this thread, i take it as fact that the LSATs objectivity as a standardized test is undermined by"stereotype threat."

In my previous long post (a few pages back) I agreed that "stereotype threat" justifies AA in theory, as you suggest, as a way to neutralize test discrepencies and give an equal shake to all law school applicants.  So I accept your definition of AA as "any admissions process that does not systematically discriminate against equally-qualified black, hispanic and native american applicants."

I also concur with your definition of "merit" as "Acquired skills relevant to the study of law," from which it follows that race is not a factor in merit (at least not ideally).

My challenge to your justification of AA arises when I ask how do we implement AA in a meritocratic manner.  I understand that you are not suggesting "a system that blindly adds 6-4-2 points to every black-hispanic-native american applicant’s index number."  But how else can AA operate in practice?  And if AA cannot operate meritocratically in practice, then i do not think AA is justified by merit.  Another way of stating this point is to ask: what would an "admissions process that does not systematically discriminate against equally-qualified black, hispanic and native american applicants."  Because this is the definition of AA, if we cannot explain what such an admissions process is in practice, then we have not justified it since all we have justified in theory is an ambiguous concept.  The normal way of answering my question is: more "holistic examinations," or greater "contextualization," answers that i find vague.

The reason why I find "holistic examination" fuzzy is that it is generally employed as an argument, disguised in high-falutin academic language, against using numbers (LSAT\GPA) in admissions.  A holistic examination should include all aspects of a candidates application, including their numerical indicators.  Perhaps in certain circumstances for particular candidates, admissions committees give less weight to these numbers (thus, people may submit addendums explaining why they underacheived).  And that is proper, but those are limited circumstances determined on a case-by-case basis.

I do not see how a reasonable case-by-case determination can be made for applicants on the basis of race.  Although I'm uncertain about this, I imagine that it is tough for admissions committees to decide between most applicants' backgrounds, either because they are mostly similar (which would make sense for most students directly out of college, or just a year or two out of school) or because they are incommensurable (how do you compare the background of a person who overcame a brain tumor with one who worked and supported a child throughout college?  Is the person who overcame the death of both parents at a young age less than, equal to, or superior to someone who knows 4 languages?  What about if the person knows 8 languages? Or started their own business?).  In the few instances where a background is exceptional, we see those applicants being accepted to schools despite sub-par numbers, though not too low (no 140s or <2.0s at T14s).

I imagine this scenario:  Princeton Law School, the newest entry to the T14, subscribes to your policy of entirely meritocratic admissions based on holistic examinations.  It makes a few auto-admits and a few auto-rejects based on holistic examinations (thus kids with both good numbers and great backgrounds are admitted, and kids with bad numbers and unimpressive backgrounds are rejected).  That leaves 70 or 80% of the applicants.  URMs were admitted at a rate among the auto-admits that, if continued for the entire applicant pool, would result in URMs becoming Ms.  However, now that all the candidates with exceptional backgrounds are out of the way, URMs are at a disadvantage in comparison to non-URMs.  All these leftover candidates are largely indistinguishable: either they have average numbers and backgrounds, or there are some with good numbers and average backgrounds or good backgrounds and average numbers, but, at the margins, non-URMs always have slightly better numbers, particularly LSAT scores, with the result that, upon ranking all students on the basis of a holistic examination, URMs are disproportionately low on the admit list.  What does PLS do?  If it admits students purely on the basis of its list, URMs will continue to be URMs.

However, the admissions committee learns about "stereotype threat," which it believes accounts for the numbers gap at the margins.  But how does it apply this knowledge?  It does not want to blindly add points to every person subject to "stereotype threat."  It wants to know for sure who is unduly affected by "stereotype threat" and to what extent to bump them up the list fairly.  What indicators of "stereotype threat" are there?  How can PLS distinguish between candidates who performed as well as they could and those who actually suffered from "stereotype threat?"  I think there are none.  Let's make this situation more concrete:

While ranking, PLS has grouped together 10 non-URMs and 10 URMs with comparable backgrounds and GPAs.  However, the URMs all have LSATs 6/4/2 points lower (relative to their race), which, if accurate, are below the school's acceptable levels given an unexceptional background.  How should PLS rank them?  On average, these candidates are all equal, and, perhaps, if PLS could admit all of them, it should.  But lets say that it cannot: they are down to their last 10 spots, or these are the 20 candidates from Florida and PLS only wants 10 admits from Florida; now the individual rankings are crucial.  Despite being equal on average, it does not follow that PLS should consider them all equal when ranking them individually, because some of the URMs might have not been affected by the "stereotype threat" and others might have been affected by it by more than 6/4/2 points.  Nor does it follow, though, that greater "contextualization" or a more holistic approach will miraculously reveal which of these URMs suffered from the "stereotype threat" and to what extent.  Since it is meritocratic, PLS would, unless it is risk-seeking (which is highly doubtful since it is a law school admissions committee), rank the 10 non-URMs higher because each, individually, is more likely to have an acceptable LSAT score than each individual URM, even though, on average, they all have the same score (and obviously LSATs are not sure things, they are only indicators, but if the only difference between two candidates is an LSAT score, the only meritocratic course is to rank higher the student with the higher LSAT).  Because it is impossible to specifically determine the affect of "stereotype threat" on any of these individual candidates, it is more meritocratic to rank 10 170s higher than 10 165s, even if some of those 165s might really be 170s or 175s if the "stereotype threat" is properly accounted for in the individual cases.  Unless PLS boosts all of the URMs equally (and blindly) it seems impossible to have a fair or meritocratic method that would not rank the 10 non-URMs highest.

Thus it seems that PLS can either have a meritocratic admissions system or an AA admissions system, but not both.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: thorc954 on July 24, 2006, 08:31:04 PM
Anyway, Red, I asked a question a few pages back. How do you defend the GPA gap between blacks and whites?

It seems like those accepted at the T14 have both lower lsats and gpas then their white counterparts.

The GPA gap between those black candidates whose index numbers predict that they will perform in the bottom 10% of the law school class and those white candidates who are also predicted to perform in the lowest 10% is statistically insignificant - about 0.1. It's not GPA that would kill their chances in the absence of affirmative action, but the LSAT.

There are a number of reasons why the GPA varies by race: URM applicants tend to have come from lower SES, tend to have attended schools less plagued by grade inflation, etc.

There's more to this, but I want to come back to it later, when we've got fewer balls in the air.



sounds good, we will talk later :)
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SouthSide on July 25, 2006, 03:36:46 AM
Whew. Lots of fun stuff to chew on here:

FACT:
black subjects experience stereotype threat and perform lower
women experience stereotype threat and perform lower
white men experience stereotype threat and perform lower
older subjects experience stereotype threat and perform lower
the threat was shown to be eliminated by diversion in both black and women subjects

YOUR CONCLUSION:
because black subjects experienced stereotype threat, AA is justified

The hollowness of that argument is farily obvious, though I'll repeat:  it ignores the mountains of evidence of stereotype threat within non-black candidates.
...
The question for you then, if each of these groups were shown to succumb to the effects of stereotype threat in laboratory conditions arguably similar to the LSAT, shouldn't they also receive similar considerations as your conclusion suggests?

I'm no fan of personal attacks, BPM, but your posts are so comically illogical that it's hard not to poke at least a little fun. You seem to conceive of stereotype threat as some nebulous floating anxiety that affects all groups equally. This is such a patent misreading of the evidence that it hardly merits serious discussion.

That's mostly my point, that the evaluation (and justification) of an idea is not its theoretical soundness but its practical feasibility (see, for instance, communism and other variants of Marxism and utopianism, the Star Wars anti-missile program, neoconservatism, and, the best metaphor of all in my opinion: the Tower of Babel).  By contrast, non-theoretically sound but practically beneficial ideas are often very useful or good: Newton's mechanics, penicillin, sleep, etc.).

Another one that made me chuckle. You could unpack the absurdities in this paragraph for days; it almost reads like a quote from a Monty Python episode. My favorite point is where you label sleep as an "idea."

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 25, 2006, 03:46:58 AM
And that's why I love you, SouthSide.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SouthSide on July 25, 2006, 04:14:46 AM
However, the admissions committee learns about "stereotype threat," which it believes accounts for the numbers gap at the margins.  But how does it apply this knowledge?  It does not want to blindly add points to every person subject to "stereotype threat."  It wants to know for sure who is unduly affected by "stereotype threat" and to what extent to bump them up the list fairly.  What indicators of "stereotype threat" are there?  How can PLS distinguish between candidates who performed as well as they could and those who actually suffered from "stereotype threat?"  I think there are none.  Let's make this situation more concrete:

While ranking, PLS has grouped together 10 non-URMs and 10 URMs with comparable backgrounds and GPAs.  However, the URMs all have LSATs 6/4/2 points lower (relative to their race), which, if accurate, are below the school's acceptable levels given an unexceptional background.  How should PLS rank them?  On average, these candidates are all equal, and, perhaps, if PLS could admit all of them, it should.  But lets say that it cannot: they are down to their last 10 spots, or these are the 20 candidates from Florida and PLS only wants 10 admits from Florida; now the individual rankings are crucial.  Despite being equal on average, it does not follow that PLS should consider them all equal when ranking them individually, because some of the URMs might have not been affected by the "stereotype threat" and others might have been affected by it by more than 6/4/2 points.  Nor does it follow, though, that greater "contextualization" or a more holistic approach will miraculously reveal which of these URMs suffered from the "stereotype threat" and to what extent.  Since it is meritocratic, PLS would, unless it is risk-seeking (which is highly doubtful since it is a law school admissions committee), rank the 10 non-URMs higher because each, individually, is more likely to have an acceptable LSAT score than each individual URM, even though, on average, they all have the same score (and obviously LSATs are not sure things, they are only indicators, but if the only difference between two candidates is an LSAT score, the only meritocratic course is to rank higher the student with the higher LSAT).  Because it is impossible to specifically determine the affect of "stereotype threat" on any of these individual candidates, it is more meritocratic to rank 10 170s higher than 10 165s, even if some of those 165s might really be 170s or 175s if the "stereotype threat" is properly accounted for in the individual cases.  Unless PLS boosts all of the URMs equally (and blindly) it seems impossible to have a fair or meritocratic method that would not rank the 10 non-URMs highest.

Thus it seems that PLS can either have a meritocratic admissions system or an AA admissions system, but not both.

There are lots of weird logical steps in your post, so I'll just try to pick out a couple of the bigger ones that I think sufficiently damage your larger point.

First, let's take your unsupported assertion that there is no way to determine which candidates may have been affected by stereotype threat and which haven't. I don't see why this is the case. Adcomms see lots of applicants every year, and they can start to discern patterns about what sort of students tend to be successful. Obviously, they can never be sure of what any applicant will do, so the whole process is a series of educated guesses. Given the existence of a persistent stereotype threat, adcomms can and should examine other relevant factors of minority applicants more closely to look for indications that their LSAT scores are not indicative of their prospects. This educated guesswork won't be perfect, but it will be a lot more accurate than relying on a measure that is known to be biased.

Second, you make a simple mathematical error in your example of the 20 grouped applicants. You state that each individual non-URM is more likely to have an acceptable score than each individual URM, even though the scores on average will be the same when accounting for stereotype threat. This is clearly not true. Even if you had no way of predicting who was most affected by stereotype threat, you would be just as well off picking randomly as you would be picking from only the non-URM group. If you do have some holistic methods of ascertaining who has been particularly affected by stereotype threat, which I have argued that you do, then you are much better off taking that information into account.

In reality, admissions don't work much like your hypothetical, but even if they did, your points wouldn't follow.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SouthSide on July 25, 2006, 05:55:22 AM
I am not persuaded that this kind of basis for affirmative action would constitute anything other than a process of making up the numbers without regard to scholastic merit.

Take, for example, the case of URM candidates in the lower end of the index score distribution whose grades and LSAT scores are poor because they have disidentified from acadmic achievement. Imagine that they have so disidentified because of the effects of racism - they are underprepared, they are expected to not do well, they tune out, and their academic preparation is therefore not up to scratch. In such a situation, affirmative action is entirely the wrong corrective. There is nothing to be gained from it; it is unfair to those candidates who are prepared and motivated; and it will only act as a form of "social promotion".

I also feel this way about the extra consideration given to socio-economic background. Unprepared is unprepared, and there's no way around it.

I do think that affirmative action can be defended solely on the grounds of academic merit, and I don't think that the numbers of those URMs admitted to top law schools under that justification would be entirely different than the numbers currently admitted under the diversity justification.

I don't understand your final paragraph. You are apparently contending that law schools currently are admitting different URMs for diversity purposes than the URMs they would otherwise be admitting "solely on the grounds of academic merit." Or else the numbers wouldn't be around the same.

That's a minor point, though. My broader critique from my earlier posts was that your narrow focus on stereotype threat misses the much larger social context, and thus can not justify AA in and of itself. Your most recent posts remind me of the blind man grabbing an elephant's tail and concluding that an elephant is very much like a rope.

In my view, stereotype threat is not an isolated phenomenon. In fact, by its very nature, it couldn't be. Rather, it exists within the context of systematic racial discrimination in our society. The stereotype threat is a highly suggestive example of the negative effects that racism causes, but there are many others. For example, research has shown that teachers are more likely to call on white male students in classes than other students. Most importantly, racial discrimination will continue and may even intensify in law school and in the legal profession.

Thus, your glib projection that all will be equal once you account for stereotype threat seems misguided in the extreme. Further measurements of merit, such as law school GPA and career success after law school, will show variable results. Opponents of AA can point to these statistics and cry foul, and the stereotype threat argument does not have a response. My argument is only strengthened by these disparities, however, as they seem to show continuing evidence of the pervasive racial bias that I believe affirmative action aims to combat. Given racism's persistence throughout American culture, the whole engine is in need of some major overhauls. In the meantime, however, affirmative action provides a helpful tuneup.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 25, 2006, 07:36:33 AM
I don't understand your final paragraph. You are apparently contending that law schools currently are admitting different URMs for diversity purposes than the URMs they would otherwise be admitting "solely on the grounds of academic merit." Or else the numbers wouldn't be around the same.

That's a minor point, though. My broader critique from my earlier posts was that your narrow focus on stereotype threat misses the much larger social context, and thus can not justify AA in and of itself. Your most recent posts remind me of the blind man grabbing an elephant's tail and concluding that an elephant is very much like a rope.

In my view, stereotype threat is not an isolated phenomenon. In fact, by its very nature, it couldn't be. Rather, it exists within the context of systematic racial discrimination in our society. The stereotype threat is a highly suggestive example of the negative effects that racism causes, but there are many others. For example, research has shown that teachers are more likely to call on white male students in classes than other students. Most importantly, racial discrimination will continue and may even intensify in law school and in the legal profession.

Thus, your glib projection that all will be equal once you account for stereotype threat seems misguided in the extreme. Further measurements of merit, such as law school GPA and career success after law school, will show variable results. Opponents of AA can point to these statistics and cry foul, and the stereotype threat argument does not have a response. My argument is only strengthened by these disparities, however, as they seem to show continuing evidence of the pervasive racial bias that I believe affirmative action aims to combat. Given racism's persistence throughout American culture, the whole engine is in need of some major overhauls. In the meantime, however, affirmative action provides a helpful tuneup.

Right, and this goes back to the point that you made earlier that the stereotype thread explanation seems thin. I agree with you that it does seem thin, but I think that that's principally because the kind of corrective that is within the power of adcomms to effect is itself a slender one. AA in law school admissions is necessarily only a small piece of the wider puzzle of how to reduce structural racism in this country.

I think that we can all agree that the minimum obligation that law school adcomms have to black applicants is to treat them fairly. We will not all agree that AA in law school admissions will have any practical effect on secondary school segregation, on the frequency with which UG profs call on black students, etc. The problems earlier in the pipeline should be dealt with at that appropriate stage, just as th problems later in the pipeline (e.g. firm patnership potential) should be dealt with at that future stage and by, for example, firms.

The law school's responsibility is to not discriminate by race. This means that (1) they should have an admissions system that doesn't systematically exclude equally-qualified URM candidates, and (2) that they should use pedagogical and grading systems that more accurately reflect the skill level of the students.

Let's take a case of two white candidates. One has majored in Classics, and is showing a 3.5 GPA from the University of Chicago. The other has majored in Poli Sci, and is showing a 3.8 GPA from Harvard. Is this enough information to decide that the Harvard applicant is brighter and more deserving, on academic grounds, of being admitted to the law school? No. The question remains -- why does one have a 3.5 and the other a 3.8? If (a substantial part)of) the answer is that Harvard has rampant grade inflation and Poli Sci is an easy major, while Chicago has a tough grading curve and Classics is a particularly challenging course of study, then the numbers 3.5 and 3.8 don't tell the full story, and the Chicago candidate may in fact be more academically accomplished, and more deserving of admission, than the Harvard candidate. They'd then need to look further in the applicant's file -- class rank, how Chicago classicists and Harvard Poli Sci majors have fared at that law school, etc.

This sort of excercise doesn't seem to raise an eyebrow, because we intuitively understand that the numbers have to be put into context to determine true academic merit. We don't argue, for example, that the Chicago classicist has been admitted on the grounds of diversity. Nor do adcomms feel that it is either their responsibility, nor within their power, to lecture Harvard on its grade-inflation at the UG level. Instead, they recognize it as distorting the utility of the UGPA as a straight measure of scholastic merit, and adjust for it.

This is the kind of process, and the kind of justification, that I am suggesting for the consideration of URM applicants with lower LSAT scores. Adcomms should recognize that, inter alia, the stereotype threat, via the LSAT, systematically distorts the true picture of URMs' academic ability and scholastic merit, and should adjust for it accordingly. How? By looking at their GPA, major, class rank, presence/absence of grade inflation at the UG attended, any scholarships won, etc and making an educated guess at whether this information confirms the presumption -- and it is a presumption -- that the relatively low LSAT score is an artifact of the racial bias of the test, rather than an accurate reflection of the applicants' true abilities. This is what race-based affirmative action is to me.

I should emphasize that this kind of consideration is one of several by which URMs would be admitted to the top law schools: (i) some URMs, obviously, have GPA/LSAT scores that are above the median and are so admitted; (ii) a disproportionate number have attended schools with tougher-than-average grading curves, or have worked full-time jobs throughout UG, and are so afforded extra consideration of their GPA; (iii) some have numbers within the range for that law school (say, two-tenths of a standard deviation away from the median) and, like their white and Asian counterparts with truly unusual work or volunteer experience, are admitted on those grounds. None of these ways by which URMs may be admitted, though, is what we commonly understand by race-based affirmative action. What I am proposing is that we should add one more consideration for URMs -- (iv) that knowledge that the LSAT is probably not telling the truth about their true academic ability, and that, when in doubt, the other factors in their application file (adjusted GPA, recommendations, scholarships and prizes) should be seen as more accurate indicators of their scholarly merit.

This sounds like a fairly conservative position to me, and one that I think utterly fair and meritocratic. Will it get it right every single time? I doubt it. Is it fairer and more meritocratic? Yes. Is it a better justification than "diversity"? I think so. Does it address structural racism up and down the educational, cultural and professional system? No.  Glib? Maybe.

___________

C00per06 -- I'm thinking that this response to Southside may also fit the question that you posed. Holler if it doesn't.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 25, 2006, 07:41:43 AM
You're wrong on both accounts, but I would suggest reading up on anger management.

Aw, don't be such a ninny. I like you.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: philibusters on July 25, 2006, 07:57:11 AM
I don't understand your final paragraph. You are apparently contending that law schools currently are admitting different URMs for diversity purposes than the URMs they would otherwise be admitting "solely on the grounds of academic merit." Or else the numbers wouldn't be around the same.

That's a minor point, though. My broader critique from my earlier posts was that your narrow focus on stereotype threat misses the much larger social context, and thus can not justify AA in and of itself. Your most recent posts remind me of the blind man grabbing an elephant's tail and concluding that an elephant is very much like a rope.

In my view, stereotype threat is not an isolated phenomenon. In fact, by its very nature, it couldn't be. Rather, it exists within the context of systematic racial discrimination in our society. The stereotype threat is a highly suggestive example of the negative effects that racism causes, but there are many others. For example, research has shown that teachers are more likely to call on white male students in classes than other students. Most importantly, racial discrimination will continue and may even intensify in law school and in the legal profession.

Thus, your glib projection that all will be equal once you account for stereotype threat seems misguided in the extreme. Further measurements of merit, such as law school GPA and career success after law school, will show variable results. Opponents of AA can point to these statistics and cry foul, and the stereotype threat argument does not have a response. My argument is only strengthened by these disparities, however, as they seem to show continuing evidence of the pervasive racial bias that I believe affirmative action aims to combat. Given racism's persistence throughout American culture, the whole engine is in need of some major overhauls. In the meantime, however, affirmative action provides a helpful tuneup.

Right, and this goes back to the point that you made earlier that the stereotype thread explanation seems thin. I agree with you that it does seem thin, but I think that that's principally because the kind of corrective that is within the power of adcomms to effect is itself a slender one. AA in law school admissions is necessarily only a small piece of the wider puzzle of how to reduce structural racism in this country.

I think that we can all agree that the minimum obligation that law school adcomms have to black applicants is to treat them fairly. We will not all agree that AA in law school admissions will have any practical effect on secondary school segregation, on the frequency with which UG profs call on black students, etc. The problems earlier in the pipeline should be dealt with at that appropriate stage, just as th problems later in the pipeline (e.g. firm patnership potential) should be dealt with at that future stage and by, for example, firms.

The law school's responsibility is to not discriminate by race. This means that (1) they should have an admissions system that doesn't systematically exclude equally-qualified URM candidates, and (2) that they should use pedagogical and grading systems that more accurately reflect the skill level of the students.

Let's take a case of two white candidates. One has majored in Classics, and is showing a 3.5 GPA from the University of Chicago. The other has majored in Poli Sci, and is showing a 3.8 GPA from Harvard. Is this enough information to decide that the Harvard applicant is brighter and more deserving, on academic grounds, of being admitted to the law school? No. The question remains -- why does one have a 3.5 and the other a 3.8? If (a substantial part)of) the answer is that Harvard has rampant grade inflation and Poli Sci is an easy major, while Chicago has a tough grading curve and Classics is a particularly challenging course of study, then the numbers 3.5 and 3.8 don't tell the full story, and the Chicago candidate may in fact be more academically accomplished, and more deserving of admission, than the Harvard candidate. They'd then need to look further in the applicant's file -- class rank, how Chicago classicists and Harvard Poli Sci majors have fared at that law school, etc.

This sort of excercise doesn't seem to raise an eyebrow, because we intuitively understand that the numbers have to be put into context to determine true academic merit. We don't argue, for example, that the Chicago classicist has been admitted on the grounds of diversity. Nor do adcomms feel that it is either their responsibility, nor within their power, to lecture Harvard on its grade-inflation at the UG level. Instead, they recognize it as distorting the utility of the UGPA as a straight measure of scholastic merit, and adjust for it.

This is the kind of process, and the kind of justification, that I am suggesting for the consideration of URM applicants with lower LSAT scores. Adcomms should recognize that, inter alia, the stereotype threat, via the LSAT, systematically distorts the true picture of URMs' academic ability and scholastic merit, and should adjust for it accordingly. How? By looking at their GPA, major, class rank, presence/absence of grade inflation at the UG attended, any scholarships won, etc and making an educated guess at whether this information confirms the presumption -- and it is a presumption -- that the relatively low LSAT score is an artifact of the racial bias of the test, rather than an accurate reflection of the applicants' true abilities. This is what race-based affirmative action is to me.

I should emphasize that this kind of consideration is one of several by which URMs would be admitted to the top law schools: (i) some URMs, obviously, have GPA/LSAT scores that are above the median and are so admitted; (ii) a disproportionate number have attended schools with tougher-than-average grading curves, or have worked full-time jobs throughout UG, and are so afforded extra consideration of their GPA; (iii) some have numbers within the range for that law school (say, two-tenths of a standard deviation away from the median) and, like their white and Asian counterparts with truly unusual work or volunteer experience, are admitted on those grounds. None of these ways by which URMs may be admitted, though, is what we commonly understand by race-based affirmative action. What I am proposing is that we should add one more consideration for URMs -- (iv) that knowledge that the LSAT is probably not telling the truth about their true academic ability, and that, when in doubt, the other factors in their application file (adjusted GPA, recommendations, scholarships and prizes) should be seen as more accurate indicators of their scholarly merit.

This sounds like a fairly conservative position to me, and one that I think utterly fair and meritocratic. Will it get it right every single time? I doubt it. Is it fairer and more meritocratic? Yes. Is it a better justification than "diversity"? I think so. Does it address structural racism up and down the educational, cultural and professional system? No.  Glib? Maybe.

___________

C00per06 -- I'm thinking that this response to Southside may also fit the question that you posed. Holler if it doesn't.

I'd have to go back though this thread, but it seems Red has narrowed her position quite a bit as we have gone through this thread.  The position put out in her latest thread is hard to attack because its quite modified-adcomms should consider stereotype threat when considering urm's LSAT scores.  Well if stereotype has been shown to exist and the consensus seems to be the evidence does support, its hard to argue with that.

That said, I would like to point out, while we are may agree on that, AA is currently much more than that, and if we want to justify or critique to the current system we have to look further than stereotype threat to other perspectives on AA that some of the other threads have looked at, and which Red has criticized us for posting.  For instance, Red admitted in this thread makes the assumption AA in the higher education context has to do with merit, but other threads have questioned that http://www.lawschooldiscussion.org/prelaw/index.php/topic,60525.0.html (http://www.lawschooldiscussion.org/prelaw/index.php/topic,60525.0.html)  only to be criticized by Red (and have the thread killed)--which made it especially annoying when she locks her threads because she is worried that people by going off topic (which we were) were killing her thread.

That said, and partly cause I feel bad about ranting against her, I will say this thread has been good because it has dealt with some of the toughest AA questions like why normatively URM's from upperclass families should be give AA based on merit.  I tried many times to deal with that, but never did I even think to come up with an argument based on merit (I usually turned to historical or political reasons)-so the thread did add something new to do the debate.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Infinity on July 25, 2006, 08:15:29 AM
Whew. Lots of fun stuff to chew on here:

That's mostly my point, that the evaluation (and justification) of an idea is not its theoretical soundness but its practical feasibility (see, for instance, communism and other variants of Marxism and utopianism, the Star Wars anti-missile program, neoconservatism, and, the best metaphor of all in my opinion: the Tower of Babel).  By contrast, non-theoretically sound but practically beneficial ideas are often very useful or good: Newton's mechanics, penicillin, sleep, etc.).

Another one that made me chuckle. You could unpack the absurdities in this paragraph for days; it almost reads like a quote from a Monty Python episode. My favorite point is where you label sleep as an "idea."

Well if I can't convince, I'm happy that I entertain.  Anyways, I think you were reading my line a touch too literally, though you're right that I probably shouldn't have used the word "idea."  The point is, we use and do lots of things without knowing why or without being able to explain why they work (or explaining wrongly), whereas lots of things we can theoretically understand and explain how they would work, don't actually work in practice because that nice tidy world of theory is often removed from life.  This is obviously not a novel point, but I was making it to say that we don't necessarily need a theoretical justification of AA if it provides concrete societal benefits, but this point is really neither here nor there, so I'll shut up about it.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: bass on July 25, 2006, 08:22:36 AM
Whew. Lots of fun stuff to chew on here:

That's mostly my point, that the evaluation (and justification) of an idea is not its theoretical soundness but its practical feasibility (see, for instance, communism and other variants of Marxism and utopianism, the Star Wars anti-missile program, neoconservatism, and, the best metaphor of all in my opinion: the Tower of Babel).  By contrast, non-theoretically sound but practically beneficial ideas are often very useful or good: Newton's mechanics, penicillin, sleep, etc.).

Another one that made me chuckle. You could unpack the absurdities in this paragraph for days; it almost reads like a quote from a Monty Python episode. My favorite point is where you label sleep as an "idea."

Well if I can't convince, I'm happy that I entertain.  Anyways, I think you were reading my line a touch too literally, though you're right that I probably shouldn't have used the word "idea."  The point is, we use and do lots of things without knowing why or without being able to explain why they work (or explaining wrongly), whereas lots of things we can theoretically understand and explain how they would work, don't actually work in practice because that nice tidy world of theory is often removed from life.  This is obviously not a novel point, but I was making it to say that we don't necessarily need a theoretical justification of AA if it provides concrete societal benefits, but this point is really neither here nor there, so I'll shut up about it.

Yea, to be honest, I thought SS's response here was silly and childish.  Your point was pretty clear and not absurd.  Is sleep an idea?  No, but that wasn't your point.

Charity people.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Lily Jaye on July 25, 2006, 08:23:30 AM
However, the admissions committee learns about "stereotype threat," which it believes accounts for the numbers gap at the margins.  But how does it apply this knowledge?  It does not want to blindly add points to every person subject to "stereotype threat."  It wants to know for sure who is unduly affected by "stereotype threat" and to what extent to bump them up the list fairly.  What indicators of "stereotype threat" are there?  How can PLS distinguish between candidates who performed as well as they could and those who actually suffered from "stereotype threat?"  I think there are none.  Let's make this situation more concrete:

While ranking, PLS has grouped together 10 non-URMs and 10 URMs with comparable backgrounds and GPAs.  However, the URMs all have LSATs 6/4/2 points lower (relative to their race), which, if accurate, are below the school's acceptable levels given an unexceptional background.  How should PLS rank them?  On average, these candidates are all equal, and, perhaps, if PLS could admit all of them, it should.  But lets say that it cannot: they are down to their last 10 spots, or these are the 20 candidates from Florida and PLS only wants 10 admits from Florida; now the individual rankings are crucial.  Despite being equal on average, it does not follow that PLS should consider them all equal when ranking them individually, because some of the URMs might have not been affected by the "stereotype threat" and others might have been affected by it by more than 6/4/2 points.  Nor does it follow, though, that greater "contextualization" or a more holistic approach will miraculously reveal which of these URMs suffered from the "stereotype threat" and to what extent.  Since it is meritocratic, PLS would, unless it is risk-seeking (which is highly doubtful since it is a law school admissions committee), rank the 10 non-URMs higher because each, individually, is more likely to have an acceptable LSAT score than each individual URM, even though, on average, they all have the same score (and obviously LSATs are not sure things, they are only indicators, but if the only difference between two candidates is an LSAT score, the only meritocratic course is to rank higher the student with the higher LSAT).  Because it is impossible to specifically determine the affect of "stereotype threat" on any of these individual candidates, it is more meritocratic to rank 10 170s higher than 10 165s, even if some of those 165s might really be 170s or 175s if the "stereotype threat" is properly accounted for in the individual cases.  Unless PLS boosts all of the URMs equally (and blindly) it seems impossible to have a fair or meritocratic method that would not rank the 10 non-URMs highest.

Thus it seems that PLS can either have a meritocratic admissions system or an AA admissions system, but not both.

There are lots of weird logical steps in your post, so I'll just try to pick out a couple of the bigger ones that I think sufficiently damage your larger point.

First, let's take your unsupported assertion that there is no way to determine which candidates may have been affected by stereotype threat and which haven't. I don't see why this is the case. Adcomms see lots of applicants every year, and they can start to discern patterns about what sort of students tend to be successful. Obviously, they can never be sure of what any applicant will do, so the whole process is a series of educated guesses. Given the existence of a persistent stereotype threat, adcomms can and should examine other relevant factors of minority applicants more closely to look for indications that their LSAT scores are not indicative of their prospects. This educated guesswork won't be perfect, but it will be a lot more accurate than relying on a measure that is known to be biased.

I'm not so sure.  As I understand it, the use of student gophers to statistically analyze application information and grades are fairly new, and still primarily used by UG adcoms -- and so far, the only thing they've found is that it's exceedingly difficult to predict how specific people above a certain threshold will do once they're enrolled.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Infinity on July 25, 2006, 08:44:46 AM
There are lots of weird logical steps in your post, so I'll just try to pick out a couple of the bigger ones that I think sufficiently damage your larger point.

First, let's take your unsupported assertion that there is no way to determine which candidates may have been affected by stereotype threat and which haven't. I don't see why this is the case. Adcomms see lots of applicants every year, and they can start to discern patterns about what sort of students tend to be successful. Obviously, they can never be sure of what any applicant will do, so the whole process is a series of educated guesses. Given the existence of a persistent stereotype threat, adcomms can and should examine other relevant factors of minority applicants more closely to look for indications that their LSAT scores are not indicative of their prospects. This educated guesswork won't be perfect, but it will be a lot more accurate than relying on a measure that is known to be biased.

Second, you make a simple mathematical error in your example of the 20 grouped applicants. You state that each individual non-URM is more likely to have an acceptable score than each individual URM, even though the scores on average will be the same when accounting for stereotype threat. This is clearly not true. Even if you had no way of predicting who was most affected by stereotype threat, you would be just as well off picking randomly as you would be picking from only the non-URM group. If you do have some holistic methods of ascertaining who has been particularly affected by stereotype threat, which I have argued that you do, then you are much better off taking that information into account.

In reality, admissions don't work much like your hypothetical, but even if they did, your points wouldn't follow.


I confess I don't know how admissions really works (nor, I doubt, do most posters here), but I thought the story I told about it was relatively convincing, and your counterpoints don't make me think otherwise.

To take your points in reverse order: I did not make a mathematical error.  If you have 2 invesment options, and the first one pays out $100 every time, and the second one pays out $200 33% of the time, $100 33% of the time and $0 33% of the time, although the two bets average the same payoff (same "expected value," as they say), if you desire $100, you will certainly take the first bet (unless you are excessively risk-seeking), because the likelihood of getting $100 is 100% in the first bet but only 66% in the second bet.  So, perhaps, you could make an argument to me that T14 law schools want the best of the best and should be willing to be more risk-seeking to get an Achilles even though it might also mean getting a Patrocles, but, and this is just a matter of considered opinion, I would think that law schools would generally prefer to take an Ajax, a known quantity that will perform admirably but without much flair.  This metaphor probably isn't helping me out since I would take Achilles and Patrocles over 2 Ajaxes, but in the decisions I was talking about, there weren't any potential-Achilles around, since all the exceptional candidates had already been selected, and the logic, I think, holds.  Particularly, I think, law schools will be more risk-averse when filling out the majority of their class, so perhaps they take a few flyers on potential-Achilles, but not the vast majority, which would end up excluding URMs on the basis of merit because of lower LSAT scores.

On your first point, I dont think it answers the dilemma i posed.  I have already said that law schools should look closely at all candidates' files, and not more closely at some than others.  Regardless, my point is that the vast majority of candidates' backgrounds are largely indistinguishable or incommensurable.  And certainly law school admissions committees might detect patterns of backgrounds that correlate with success in school, but that is irrelevant: i would imagine such backgrounds are generally spread out over candidates from all races (remember, we're talking about average applicants here, not exceptional ones).  And if that is the case, my dilemma returns: how do you distinguish between two students with similar backgrounds indicative of success, but one has a higher LSAT score.  In these cases, the ones with higher LSAT scores are, because of my point above, marginally more likely to have the level of merit the school desires.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 25, 2006, 08:52:59 AM
In these cases, the ones with higher LSAT scores are, because of my point above, marginally more likely to have the level of merit the school desires.

Eh? The score band on the LSAT, at the 95% confidence interval is 11 points wide. Further, I think I have posted some pretty compelling evidence that that the LSAT is a significantly distorted measure merit of URMs as a group.

The one thing that we can absolutely NOT say with ANY degree of plausibility, is that the individual white applicant with a 170 LSAT score is -- other things (i.e. GPA and such) being equal -- more meritorious than the individual black applicant with an LSAT score of 164. No way.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: bass on July 25, 2006, 08:57:49 AM
The one thing that we can absolutely NOT say with ANY degree of plausibility, is that the individual white applicant with a 170 LSAT score is -- other things (i.e. GPA and such) being equal -- more meritorious than the individual black applicant with an LSAT score of 164. No way.

Okay, does that mean we can say that the black applicant is more meritorious?  Are they equally so?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Infinity on July 25, 2006, 09:12:22 AM
None of these ways by which URMs may be admitted, though, is what we commonly understand by race-based affirmative action. What I am proposing is that we should add one more consideration for URMs -- (iv) that knowledge that the LSAT is probably not telling the truth about their true academic ability, and that, when in doubt, the other factors in their application file (adjusted GPA, recommendations, scholarships and prizes) should be seen as more accurate indicators of their scholarly merit.

This sounds like a fairly conservative position to me, and one that I think utterly fair and meritocratic. Will it get it right every single time? I doubt it. Is it fairer and more meritocratic? Yes. Is it a better justification than "diversity"? I think so. Does it address structural racism up and down the educational, cultural and professional system? No.  Glib? Maybe.

___________

C00per06 -- I'm thinking that this response to Southside may also fit the question that you posed. Holler if it doesn't.

Red, I agree with almost everything you say, except the quoted section above.  My question here (which I just iterated to Southside in the above post) is that I do not see how it will be possible, very often, to distinguish between two candidates, one URM, one non-URM, with comparable backgrounds without using LSATs.  You mentioned 3 other avenues of admissions for URMs, all of which I agree with, through all of which I would imagine URMs are not UR (hence, in my PLS scenario, URMs are being admitted in great numbers among what I called the auto-admits).  However, at this stage, the hoi polloi of the admissions class, i can't understand how an examination of one person's background will really distinguish them from another person by too much.  It is not as if, at this stage, the non-URMs are all dunces with good stores and terrible backgrounds and the URMs have sub-par scores with fantastic backgrouds.  What i think is more a more plausible situation is two candidates with comparable backgrounds who are differentiated only by LSAT score.  Although on average these candidates might have the same LSAT score when adjusted for "stereotype threat," individually, that is not certain, and the lack of certainty leads me to think that, on the basis of merit or fairness, the law school would have to prefer the candidates more likely to have the higher merit indicated by the higher LSAT score.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Infinity on July 25, 2006, 09:14:01 AM
First, just to nitpick, you wouldn't have to be "excessively risk-seeking" to take the first choice.  Risk-neutral is sufficient.  Risk-seeking would mean that you would take the first choice even if the expected value were less than $100.

I don't really get your argument here.  It seems to me that you are saying that the URMs would have a wider range of scores than the non-URMs.  Where does this assumption come from?

My assumption comes from the argument that "Stereotype threat" is an average.  So adjusting for "stereotype threat" for URMs would lead to a wider range of scores because "stereotype threat" does not reduce scores by a constant.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Infinity on July 25, 2006, 09:21:13 AM
The URM score distribution will be shaped the exact same way after the adjustment as it was before the adjustment.  Is there a wider range in URMs as non-URMs?

True, on average, the distribution would be the same.  But, again, when looking at specific individuals and making specific admissions decisions on a case-by-case basis, that cannot be known.

And you're right about the risk-seeking\risk-neutral distinction.  I am assuming that law-schools are risk-averse and would prefer the certainty of a sure bet.  This is certainly debateable, and may be where my argument goes ashore.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Infinity on July 25, 2006, 09:31:03 AM
The one thing that we can absolutely NOT say with ANY degree of plausibility, is that the individual white applicant with a 170 LSAT score is -- other things (i.e. GPA and such) being equal -- more meritorious than the individual black applicant with an LSAT score of 164. No way.

Okay, does that mean we can say that the black applicant is more meritorious?  Are they equally so?

I agree with "....."'s intended point.  Also, I don't think the scoreband helps your point because, again, marginally, the person with the higher LSAT score will have a slightly higher score band, even if it is 11 points wide and there is lots of overlap. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: bass on July 25, 2006, 09:35:28 AM
The one thing that we can absolutely NOT say with ANY degree of plausibility, is that the individual white applicant with a 170 LSAT score is -- other things (i.e. GPA and such) being equal -- more meritorious than the individual black applicant with an LSAT score of 164. No way.

Okay, does that mean we can say that the black applicant is more meritorious?  Are they equally so?

I agree with "....."'s intended point.  Also, I don't think the scoreband helps your point because, again, marginally, the person with the higher LSAT score will have a slightly higher score band, even if it is 11 points wide and there is lots of overlap. 

It was more a clarification than anything.  I certainly don't understand how it could be inconceivable that the white applicant is more meritorious (I hate using this word...sounds made up).
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Infinity on July 25, 2006, 09:40:52 AM
The problem with your argument is that it is not appropriate to bring in risk-seeking/risk-neutral/risk-averse to this discussion.  It's easy when we are talking about dollars.  A dollar is a dollar is a dollar.  But the hypothetical "assuming-all-else-equal" when applied to applicants is silly.  All else is inherently going to differ from applicant to applicant.  I mean I see what you are going for in your argument.  But if Patrocles was raised in a Somalian hut and Achilles has never known poverty, and there is no indication that there will be a huge difference in ability, Patrocles will be the better addition to the class.

I respectfully disagree with the unstated premise of your counterexample: that the URM will have a clearly distinguishable background from the non-URM.  I agree "assuming-all-else-equal" is rarely the case, but my point is not that the candidates have equal backgrounds but indistingusiable or incommensurable backgrounds (remember, we're talking here about the average candidates, the 60 or 70 or 80% of the class that are not auto-rejects or auto-admits, sure, some of them may stand out with background stories, but i sincerely think that most average applicants, are, well, average).  I picture a kind of bell-curve in terms of the quality of an applicant's background, with the vast majority, irrespective of race, being normal.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 25, 2006, 09:51:14 AM
It was more a clarification than anything.  I certainly don't understand how it could be inconceivable that the white applicant is more meritorious (I hate using this word...sounds made up).

Oh, but it's not inconceivable. It is just one additional factor to look at.

Further, law schools have a duty to look at that factor in a way that they don't have a duty to look at , say, work experience. The use of a racially biased instrument to measure critical thinking skills, the decision to rely on it so heavily, and the decision not to develop and use a more accurate and race-neutral instrument, is entirely theirs (and the ABA's).
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 25, 2006, 10:00:48 AM
Although on average these candidates might have the same LSAT score when adjusted for "stereotype threat," individually, that is not certain, and the lack of certainty leads me to think that, on the basis of merit or fairness, the law school would have to prefer the candidates more likely to have the higher merit indicated by the higher LSAT score.

You are looking for certainty, and I can't offer it to you. What I am suggesting is that there is a special reason to believe that a black applicant with a weak LSAT, but an otherwise strong scholarly background, is more accurately represented by his adjusted GPA, her class rank, his merit scholarships, her letters of recommendation, than s/he is by her LSAT score. I am also suggesting that law schools have a special duty to act on that presumption.

That is what merit-based affirmative action means to me: the intelligent, careful examination of every applicants' file to identify those that are the best and the brightest.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SouthSide on July 25, 2006, 10:18:03 AM
I don't understand your final paragraph. You are apparently contending that law schools currently are admitting different URMs for diversity purposes than the URMs they would otherwise be admitting "solely on the grounds of academic merit." Or else the numbers wouldn't be around the same.

That's a minor point, though. My broader critique from my earlier posts was that your narrow focus on stereotype threat misses the much larger social context, and thus can not justify AA in and of itself. Your most recent posts remind me of the blind man grabbing an elephant's tail and concluding that an elephant is very much like a rope.

In my view, stereotype threat is not an isolated phenomenon. In fact, by its very nature, it couldn't be. Rather, it exists within the context of systematic racial discrimination in our society. The stereotype threat is a highly suggestive example of the negative effects that racism causes, but there are many others. For example, research has shown that teachers are more likely to call on white male students in classes than other students. Most importantly, racial discrimination will continue and may even intensify in law school and in the legal profession.

Thus, your glib projection that all will be equal once you account for stereotype threat seems misguided in the extreme. Further measurements of merit, such as law school GPA and career success after law school, will show variable results. Opponents of AA can point to these statistics and cry foul, and the stereotype threat argument does not have a response. My argument is only strengthened by these disparities, however, as they seem to show continuing evidence of the pervasive racial bias that I believe affirmative action aims to combat. Given racism's persistence throughout American culture, the whole engine is in need of some major overhauls. In the meantime, however, affirmative action provides a helpful tuneup.

Right, and this goes back to the point that you made earlier that the stereotype thread explanation seems thin. I agree with you that it does seem thin, but I think that that's principally because the kind of corrective that is within the power of adcomms to effect is itself a slender one. AA in law school admissions is necessarily only a small piece of the wider puzzle of how to reduce structural racism in this country.

I think that we can all agree that the minimum obligation that law school adcomms have to black applicants is to treat them fairly. We will not all agree that AA in law school admissions will have any practical effect on secondary school segregation, on the frequency with which UG profs call on black students, etc. The problems earlier in the pipeline should be dealt with at that appropriate stage, just as th problems later in the pipeline (e.g. firm patnership potential) should be dealt with at that future stage and by, for example, firms.

The law school's responsibility is to not discriminate by race. This means that (1) they should have an admissions system that doesn't systematically exclude equally-qualified URM candidates, and (2) that they should use pedagogical and grading systems that more accurately reflect the skill level of the students.

Let's take a case of two white candidates. One has majored in Classics, and is showing a 3.5 GPA from the University of Chicago. The other has majored in Poli Sci, and is showing a 3.8 GPA from Harvard. Is this enough information to decide that the Harvard applicant is brighter and more deserving, on academic grounds, of being admitted to the law school? No. The question remains -- why does one have a 3.5 and the other a 3.8? If (a substantial part)of) the answer is that Harvard has rampant grade inflation and Poli Sci is an easy major, while Chicago has a tough grading curve and Classics is a particularly challenging course of study, then the numbers 3.5 and 3.8 don't tell the full story, and the Chicago candidate may in fact be more academically accomplished, and more deserving of admission, than the Harvard candidate. They'd then need to look further in the applicant's file -- class rank, how Chicago classicists and Harvard Poli Sci majors have fared at that law school, etc.

This sort of excercise doesn't seem to raise an eyebrow, because we intuitively understand that the numbers have to be put into context to determine true academic merit. We don't argue, for example, that the Chicago classicist has been admitted on the grounds of diversity. Nor do adcomms feel that it is either their responsibility, nor within their power, to lecture Harvard on its grade-inflation at the UG level. Instead, they recognize it as distorting the utility of the UGPA as a straight measure of scholastic merit, and adjust for it.

This is the kind of process, and the kind of justification, that I am suggesting for the consideration of URM applicants with lower LSAT scores. Adcomms should recognize that, inter alia, the stereotype threat, via the LSAT, systematically distorts the true picture of URMs' academic ability and scholastic merit, and should adjust for it accordingly. How? By looking at their GPA, major, class rank, presence/absence of grade inflation at the UG attended, any scholarships won, etc and making an educated guess at whether this information confirms the presumption -- and it is a presumption -- that the relatively low LSAT score is an artifact of the racial bias of the test, rather than an accurate reflection of the applicants' true abilities. This is what race-based affirmative action is to me.

I should emphasize that this kind of consideration is one of several by which URMs would be admitted to the top law schools: (i) some URMs, obviously, have GPA/LSAT scores that are above the median and are so admitted; (ii) a disproportionate number have attended schools with tougher-than-average grading curves, or have worked full-time jobs throughout UG, and are so afforded extra consideration of their GPA; (iii) some have numbers within the range for that law school (say, two-tenths of a standard deviation away from the median) and, like their white and Asian counterparts with truly unusual work or volunteer experience, are admitted on those grounds. None of these ways by which URMs may be admitted, though, is what we commonly understand by race-based affirmative action. What I am proposing is that we should add one more consideration for URMs -- (iv) that knowledge that the LSAT is probably not telling the truth about their true academic ability, and that, when in doubt, the other factors in their application file (adjusted GPA, recommendations, scholarships and prizes) should be seen as more accurate indicators of their scholarly merit.

This sounds like a fairly conservative position to me, and one that I think utterly fair and meritocratic. Will it get it right every single time? I doubt it. Is it fairer and more meritocratic? Yes. Is it a better justification than "diversity"? I think so. Does it address structural racism up and down the educational, cultural and professional system? No.  Glib? Maybe.

___________

C00per06 -- I'm thinking that this response to Southside may also fit the question that you posed. Holler if it doesn't.

Got it. You are arguing the relatively minimalist point that some affirmative action can be justified based simply on fairness and projected academic success. I think you would have to concede that this is not the only reason that affirmatvie action is currently practiced, and also that limiting one's justification to this reason would likely result in fewer URM admits than the status quo.

Then, the question becomes whether we should consider additional social or academic goals in admissions, which I will allow is a question for another thread.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: BPM on July 25, 2006, 10:19:48 AM
I'm no fan of personal attacks, BPM, but your posts are so comically illogical that it's hard not to poke at least a little fun. You seem to conceive of stereotype threat as some nebulous floating anxiety that affects all groups equally. This is such a patent misreading of the evidence that it hardly merits serious discussion.

Not at all, I'm saying quite the opposite.  Because each group has been shown to be impacted by the stereotype threat, you must determine the degree and context each group is affected, before jumping to a conclusion that URMs scores have significanly more error. 

It may very well be the case that only URMs are affected and red's theory is fully justified, or it may turn out that many other groups are similarly affected making it a wash.  To make that differential conclusion, however, there is still a significant gap between the similarity of laboratory evidence and an actual LSAT administration, where the pre-test self-identification exercises introduce a mine-field of these stereotype primes.

Whatever the case may be, the state of the stereotype threat w/ respect to the LSAT is extremely premature to draw the conclusions for immediate remediation.  Read Steele's interview:

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&articleID=000AB254-3CFA-11E7-BB5883414B7F0000&pageNumber=2&catID=2

Even so, Steele would like to move the discussion of race away from affirmative action. "It distracts from some of the more profound inequalities in American society," he says. Disparities in academic tracking, discipline and resources limit intellectual achievement from a child's very first day in school, he argues. And silent, psychological cues impede success as well. When schools relegate ethnic studies to special programs, for instance, students' identities are marginalized in tandem, Steele asserts. Or when a teacher starts talking about "white males," those students begin to feel threatened and uncomfortable.

With a laugh, Steele predicts it will take a whole village of scientists to fully understand the process. In testing, for instance, other influences may swamp stereotype threat. "That's why I think it's exciting--it's important and powerful but not very well understood," Steele remarks. He believes the phenomenon, diffuse throughout society, affects everything from white self-segregation to minority self-limitation. "Stereotype threat is a first attempt to characterize these processes," he explains. "You hope people make some sense out of it and use it."


-------------------------------------

Interestingly, Steele does present an argument targetted at standardized testing that would be in line with Red's goal, but of which stereotype threat is a minor consideration, and it goes something like this:

- In every country, with exception of the US, admissions testing is characterized as knowledge and not aptitude based
- Regardless of the characterization, within the U.S. all standardized admissions tests are really knowledge and not aptitude tests
- Performance on knowledge based tests reflects the accumulation of prior education and economic access
- Education and economic access is correlated with socioeconomic standing
(conclusion) Standardized tests don't measure aptitude, but indirectly measure socioeconomic standing

And I think we can safely add to this reasoning that standardized test would also function as a gateway to limit access to those from lower socioeconomic groups.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SouthSide on July 25, 2006, 10:24:53 AM
And you're right about the risk-seeking\risk-neutral distinction.  I am assuming that law-schools are risk-averse and would prefer the certainty of a sure bet.  This is certainly debateable, and may be where my argument goes ashore.

I'd far rather have an Achilles and a Patroclus than two Ajaxes, both in real life and in admissions. Especially if I can use holistic methods to increase my chances of sorting out the Achilleses from the Patrocluses. (Hmmm, the plural forms of Greek names are a conundrum. The Achillae and the Patrocli?)
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: philibusters on July 25, 2006, 11:43:38 AM
In these cases, the ones with higher LSAT scores are, because of my point above, marginally more likely to have the level of merit the school desires.

Eh? The score band on the LSAT, at the 95% confidence interval is 11 points wide. Further, I think I have posted some pretty compelling evidence that that the LSAT is a significantly distorted measure merit of URMs as a group.

The one thing that we can absolutely NOT say with ANY degree of plausibility, is that the individual white applicant with a 170 LSAT score is -- other things (i.e. GPA and such) being equal -- more meritorious than the individual black applicant with an LSAT score of 164. No way.


What does merit mean anyway???  The whole thread seems to indicate that its more than an index score based on LSAT and GPA--but what is it. But you guys talk about merit, an abstract concept, likes its something real, that can be measured.  But the whole point of the thread is that LSAT is flawed and doesn't measure merit--well duh, to some degree merit is in the eye of the beholder, each particular school.  Red dismissed the diversity argument but it could add merit to a person in a school's eye.  Lets not forget merit will always be an abstract concept-it will never be a real thing, so its stupid to say I reject merit based on LSAT scores, because its an arbirtrary definition, but I redefine it as...whether one applicant is more meritious than another applicant is always a subjective call- I thought the tone down message of the thread was that objective scores have limitations adcomms should take into account when judging which candiadates are most deserving of admission, but now they seems to be a notion that merit is objective, the quote being "The one thing that we can absolutely NOT say with ANY degree of plausibility, is that the individual white applicant with a 170 LSAT score is -- other things (i.e. GPA and such) being equal -- more meritorious than the individual black applicant with an LSAT score of 164. No way."--when in fact meritorious is an abstract concept so opinions could vary in that situation.  Maybe thats where basing an AA argument on merit fails, on the one hand basing merit only on index score is subjective because it ignores the holistic person and the no matter what you do, what you consider merit will be subjective-so that its better to approach AA from another angle.  Besides I don't think lawschools think of merit when they design their AA policies.  The arguments today seem short sighted because there is a refusual to recognize the limits of a meritious admission systems-that its inherently subjective.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: aerynn on July 25, 2006, 12:44:31 PM
Wow, phil, that is almost exactly what I was thinking.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: aerynn on July 25, 2006, 12:50:25 PM
I always think in paragraphs and mixed-case text.  ;)
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: aerynn on July 25, 2006, 12:53:27 PM
I always think in paragraphs and mixed-case text.  ;)

I knew there was a reason I liked you.
:-*

Now I'm blushing!
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 25, 2006, 01:38:46 PM

1. I am targeting my attention on the T14 schools, and engaging the debate strictly on the basis of scholastic merit1. This is because scholastic merit is the criterion against which the people who argue against affirmative action frame the debate. One can imagine other qualities that may be relevant: “leadership”, etc., but these complicate the issue from the outset, when, for the sake of ease of discussion, I would rather that they complicated the issue at the end of the discussion.


I think this whole thing is of dubious worth to the extent that it focuses on the T14 and the underperformance of already high scoring blacks.  

Focusing on high scoring black applicants ath the T14 is so narrow as to hardly be relevant.

Whats the ultimate goal here? It looks like this is an arguement for justifying AA in order to facilitate the creation of a black elite. Either that or it appears to be an attempt to address law students' jealousies that certain URMs with lower scores got into certain institutions that were ranked higher in US News. The people that whine about not getting in because of AA are jackasses anyway.

I want to see more black lawyers, more participation in the legal process, more minority kids aiming high. I dont want to see the top of the crop co-opted into the halls of white privilege.


Yes.  Pretty much.  The LSAT is probably a biased instrument -- by stereotype threat or by other means -- and admissions offices at all schools, not merely the T14, should take that into account.  I still think there's a bigger issue afoot, even if we limit ourselves to the law school admissions context.
Title: Plural forms of Greek names.
Post by: Miss P on July 25, 2006, 04:23:41 PM
I'd far rather have an Achilles and a Patroclus than two Ajaxes, both in real life and in admissions. Especially if I can use holistic methods to increase my chances of sorting out the Achilleses from the Patrocluses. (Hmmm, the plural forms of Greek names are a conundrum. The Achillae and the Patrocli?)


[brief hijack]
Can we talk about this for a second?  It's been tripping me up all afternoon.  I have never studied Classical Greek and I barely know the alphabet except from learning to avoid fraternities, so this is a random, ignorant question.  You can PM me about it or (if you think there are others who are interested in discussing this) we could start a thread.  Why do we still use the Latinate transliterations of Greek names, and are we bound to decline and pluralize them in Latin?  I would choose a>ai, o>oi, o>a, etc. (these are the transliterated Greek plurals, right?), but then do I have to go back and change the ch in Achilles to k?  I find this all confusing.  It might be best to just go with English pluralization: Achilleses, Ajaxes, etc.
[/brief hijack]
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 25, 2006, 04:40:24 PM
You're speaking English anyway.  You've already translated the name into your language.  Just use your language.  For me, it's not a matter of which is easier (although English certainly is) -- it's a matter of which is right, and English is the right way to do it now.

Move on, you Luddites.  Get with the times!


(Yeah, yeah, I'm aware of the mild irony of the whole Luddite statement.  Blah, blah, blah.)


Okay, my bit of hijacking is done.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: bass on July 25, 2006, 04:51:23 PM
We use the latin because that's what we've done for a really long time.  And it makes no sense to make Achilles plural with greek endings because Achilles is Achilleus in greek.

If you use the greek, people will call you a pedant.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 25, 2006, 04:56:22 PM
The point is that you should be called a pedant for using Latin as well.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 25, 2006, 05:17:37 PM
What does merit mean anyway???

Seriously?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 25, 2006, 05:23:33 PM

Yes.  Pretty much.  The LSAT is probably a biased instrument -- by stereotype threat or by other means -- and admissions offices at all schools, not merely the T14, should take that into account.  I still think there's a bigger issue afoot, even if we limit ourselves to the law school admissions context.

Okay, Miss P. My curiosity is now uncontainable. This thread has exhausted the steretype/LSAT Bias/Merit justification. We're ready for the bigger issues when you (or Aerynn or Credo or Spaulding or any one else) are.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Hank Rearden on July 26, 2006, 12:14:05 AM
Came across this earlier tonight:

http://www.lagriffedulion.f2s.com/dct.htm

which is based on

http://www.lrainc.com/swtaboo/stalkers/em_bayes.html

Kind of interesting to read...seems that it is possible that standardized tests actually underpredict white and Asian performance and overpredict URM performance, perhaps suggesting that reverse affirmative action is necessary in order to form the highest-performing class possible.  There's lots of statistics though, so beware.   
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SouthSide on July 26, 2006, 04:27:51 AM

Yes.  Pretty much.  The LSAT is probably a biased instrument -- by stereotype threat or by other means -- and admissions offices at all schools, not merely the T14, should take that into account.  I still think there's a bigger issue afoot, even if we limit ourselves to the law school admissions context.

Okay, Miss P. My curiosity is now uncontainable. This thread has exhausted the steretype/LSAT Bias/Merit justification. We're ready for the bigger issues when you (or Aerynn or Credo or Spaulding or any one else) are.

Well, here's a rough overview of the other justifications that have been mentioned on this thread:

1: AA is a corrective to societal racism. (Advanced by me)

2: AA helps law schools to create a more diverse class, which is educationally beneficial for all. (Advanced by the Grutter briefs)

3: AA helps the creation of a black elite, which creates role models, encourages minority students to aim high, etc. (Advanced mostly by credo_pirata)

4: AA helps create more minority lawyers. This is a slightly different argument than number 3 above. (I think Miss P has made this case most forcefully)

5: In addition to stereotype threat, there are other systematic biases in the application process that AA helps to correct for. (advanced by Spaulding)

6: Merit is an arbitrary concept, admissions are essentially random, so why not use AA if it produces results we want to see. (This seems to be what philibusters and others are driving at)

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: philibusters on July 26, 2006, 07:39:16 AM

Yes.  Pretty much.  The LSAT is probably a biased instrument -- by stereotype threat or by other means -- and admissions offices at all schools, not merely the T14, should take that into account.  I still think there's a bigger issue afoot, even if we limit ourselves to the law school admissions context.

Okay, Miss P. My curiosity is now uncontainable. This thread has exhausted the steretype/LSAT Bias/Merit justification. We're ready for the bigger issues when you (or Aerynn or Credo or Spaulding or any one else) are.

Well, here's a rough overview of the other justifications that have been mentioned on this thread:

1: AA is a corrective to societal racism. (Advanced by me)

2: AA helps law schools to create a more diverse class, which is educationally beneficial for all. (Advanced by the Grutter briefs)

3: AA helps the creation of a black elite, which creates role models, encourages minority students to aim high, etc. (Advanced mostly by credo_pirata)

4: AA helps create more minority lawyers. This is a slightly different argument than number 3 above. (I think Miss P has made this case most forcefully)

5: In addition to stereotype threat, there are other systematic biases in the application process that AA helps to correct for. (advanced by Spaulding)

6: Merit is an arbitrary concept, admissions are essentially random, so why not use AA if it produces results we want to see. (This seems to be what philibusters and others are driving at)



I would have used the words subjective, not necessarily random.

To further that there have been many approaches to AA on this board and a couple I just added now-all can add something to the debate I think.

A.  Merit

Argument 1 --AA defeats a merit system because it allows in those with lower stats
Argument 2- Merit is subjective
Argument 3- The current admission system is fauculty in that test conditions favor some groups more than others, so merit must take into account other factors.

B.  Moral
Argument 1-- Natural law says we are all equal so giving some people an advantage is immoral
Argument 2-- The moral  thing to do is to help the disadvantaged, otherwise we endorse permanent inequality

C.  Social
Argument 1-- Diversity is a needed thing in higher education and society as a whole, else we segregate or selves and lose productivity and cause unnecessary quarrels.
Argument 2--Society needs to make sure there are no permanent underclass or they risk creating an alienated segment of the population that will reject mainstream values and be a burden to the rest of society.

D. Political
Argument 1--AA is an example of speical interests gone amok- going into areas they have no business going into.
Argument 2-- For a gov't to have political legitimacy in a political democracy- staple institutions like the legal profession must be inclusive to all segments of society.
Argument 3--AA is a result of a natural political process and we should accept just like we accept different tax brackets and the different ways gov't treats different people (think of the substantive due process part of your first year ConLaw course here).

E.  Historical (Similiar to political-usually you would blend them together)
Argument 1:  We have done things a certain way for so long.  Originally there must have been a purpose and now AA become an institution in itself and cannot be done away with in the present without interfering with people's expectation.
Argument 2:  AA is not an end to itself, but one step in a process towards equal civil rights, and it is a mistake to try to isolate the issue away from the larger civil rights issues.
Argument 3:  Whatever the historical reasons in the larger civil rights context, in todays world the URM's that benefit the most from upper class backgrounds and are already empowered from a civil rights perspective due to their economic success.
Argument 4:  AA helped create a self-sustainable middle class-so because the program is successful we should encourage it.
F.  Economic
Argument 1--AA increases productivity by... (never heard this argument, but imagine what Posner would say if he was in support of AA).  One example might be AA increases economic productivity by giving people who have contact segments of the population that are underdeveloped the technical skills to bring economic development.
Argument 2-- AA decreases productivity by... (never heard this argument, but imagine what Posner would say if he was against AA).  One example would it decreases productivity by interfering with the natural market of higher education-adding fat to it.

Add on to the list as you see fit
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 26, 2006, 10:11:03 AM

Yes.  Pretty much.  The LSAT is probably a biased instrument -- by stereotype threat or by other means -- and admissions offices at all schools, not merely the T14, should take that into account.  I still think there's a bigger issue afoot, even if we limit ourselves to the law school admissions context.

Okay, Miss P. My curiosity is now uncontainable. This thread has exhausted the steretype/LSAT Bias/Merit justification. We're ready for the bigger issues when you (or Aerynn or Credo or Spaulding or any one else) are.

Well, here's a rough overview of the other justifications that have been mentioned on this thread:

1: AA is a corrective to societal racism. (Advanced by me)

2: AA helps law schools to create a more diverse class, which is educationally beneficial for all. (Advanced by the Grutter briefs)

3: AA helps the creation of a black elite, which creates role models, encourages minority students to aim high, etc. (Advanced mostly by credo_pirata)

4: AA helps create more minority lawyers. This is a slightly different argument than number 3 above. (I think Miss P has made this case most forcefully)

5: In addition to stereotype threat, there are other systematic biases in the application process that AA helps to correct for. (advanced by Spaulding)

6: Merit is an arbitrary concept, admissions are essentially random, so why not use AA if it produces results we want to see. (This seems to be what philibusters and others are driving at)



I don't have the time to give my full take on this, but I don't have anything really original to say anyway.  I roughly agree with all of these, with #2 less, with #1 and #5 the most, and I don't care to pick one as the only or best rationale for AA. 

Also, beyond the stereotype threat and other mechanisms through which the LSAT may be racially biased, I think the LSAT is a pretty stupid test -- way too easy to game for some people and way too much an index of accumulated social capital, among other things -- and law schools overrely on it.  I say this despite an admittedly LSAT-heavy admissions profile and knowing that I probably wouldn't have gotten in anywhere if it weren't for those four hours in October.

EDIT: p.s. re: Greek names.  I agree.  Pluralize them in English.  I think pluralizing them in Latin -- despite the use of Latin transliterations for centuries -- is both pedantic and confusing.  I'm the type who refuses to call plural octopus "octopi" but also would never write "oktopous."
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SouthSide on July 26, 2006, 11:00:51 AM

I don't have the time to give my full take on this, but I don't have anything really original to say anyway.  I roughly agree with all of these, with #2 less, with #1 and #5 the most, and I don't care to pick one as the only or best rationale for AA. 

Also, beyond the stereotype threat and other mechanisms through which the LSAT may be racially biased, I think the LSAT is a pretty stupid test -- way too easy to game for some people and way too much an index of accumulated social capital, among other things -- and law schools overrely on it.  I say this despite an admittedly LSAT-heavy admissions profile and knowing that I probably wouldn't have gotten in anywhere if it weren't for those four hours in October.

EDIT: p.s. re: Greek names.  I agree.  Pluralize them in English.  I think pluralizing them in Latin -- despite the use of Latin transliterations for centuries -- is both pedantic and confusing.  I'm the type who refuses to call plural octopus "octopi" but also would never write "oktopous."

To sort out which justifications you agree with, you would have to first define the criteria by which an admissions system should be judged. That's a difficult question that I have somewhat conflicting viewpoints on. Perhaps I'll come back to it after further reflection.

On the pluralization question, I am having trouble thinking of any singular English nouns that end in "es." Thus, I'm still not sure how to pluralize Achilles. Hmmm....

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Freak on July 26, 2006, 11:03:30 AM
clue, "how many deer to do you see?" "I see one deer."
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: philibusters on July 26, 2006, 12:17:39 PM
Anticipating the discussion..


1: AA is a corrective to societal racism. (Advanced by me)


Vague? What is it exactly that AA is correcting for? How does the corrective fit the problem? Wasn't a corrective (AA) applied at the level of Undergrad admissions? Why should a black Harvard kid get special treatment in the law school admin process? etc..


2: AA helps law schools to create a more diverse class, which is educationally beneficial for all. (Advanced by the Grutter briefs)

Doubtful; unsupported by adequate evidence that this is true.


3: AA helps the creation of a black elite, which creates role models, encourages minority students to aim high, etc. (Advanced mostly by credo_pirata)

Doubtful that AA could conceivably have this effect.


4: AA helps create more minority lawyers. This is a slightly different argument than number 3 above. (I think Miss P has made this case most forcefully)


Yes, but why do those lawyers need to graduate from Columbia, Northwestern, Cornell, rather than from Tulane, William & Mary, or Howard?

5: In addition to stereotype threat, there are other systematic biases in the application process that AA helps to correct for. (advanced by Spaulding)


By race or by class?

6: Merit is an arbitrary concept, admissions are essentially random, so why not use AA if it produces results we want to see. (This seems to be what philibusters and others are driving at)


Other than at the margins, does anyone believe this? Could a Harvard admit be rejected by Thomas Jefferson? By WUSL?

I just said in a post, 3 posts ago, random was the wrong word in number 6, and totally changes the argument, subjective is the word- no its not random-random makes it sound like a Harvard admit could be rejected ty TJ-which isn't the point.  However, merit is an abstract concept and is subjective, there is no mathamatical formula for it, so there will always be some variation when different people look at academic merit.  If asked to rank 50 students 1-50 without an index score it is very doubtful that any two adcomms would come across with the exact same list.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: BPM on July 26, 2006, 12:49:48 PM
You're missing a very basic argument.

We live in a democratic society where the needs of the communities need voicing at not only the legislative, but also the commercial, educational, scientific, and legal level.  An effective democratic voice requires both sufficient numbers and the monetary means

Education creates professionals who are capable of voicing these concerns, but the community concerns cannot be fully addressed unless a sufficient number of graduates are produced who are in tune with the needs of these communities. 

In effect, education is a means to an end.  The end in this case is a diversified professional workforce that is representative of the general population at large.  A component to having a democratic voice is the economic means to provide that voice, and affirmative action enables poorer groups (traditionally lacking the monetary requirement for a democratic voice) to achieve certain numbers of professionals to hopefully voice the needs of the respective communities.

If one truly believes in democracy, they would want reasonable representation of races (with the assumption that race implies different community needs) at all levels of society.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Freak on July 26, 2006, 12:54:44 PM
You're missing a very basic argument.

We live in a democratic society where the needs of the communities need voicing at not only the legislative, but also the commercial, educational, scientific, and legal level.  An effective democratic voice requires both sufficient numbers and the monetary means

Education creates professionals who are capable of voicing these concerns, but the community concerns cannot be fully addressed unless a sufficient number of graduates are produced who in tune with the needs of these communities. 

In effect, education is a means to an end.  The end in this case is a diversified professional workforce that is representative of the general population at large.  A component to having a democratic voice is the economic means to provide that voice, and affirmative action enables poorer groups (traditionally lacking the monetary requirement for a democratic voice) to achieve certain numbers of professional to hopefully exert the needs of the respective communities.

If one truly believes in democracy, they would want reasonable representation of races (with the assumption that race implies different community needs) at all levels of society.

You assume an aweful lot here.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: philibusters on July 26, 2006, 01:05:18 PM
I just said in a post, 3 posts ago, random was the wrong word in number 6, and totally changes the argument, subjective is the word- no its not random-random makes it sound like a Harvard admit could be rejected ty TJ-which isn't the point.  However, merit is an abstract concept and is subjective, there is no mathamatical formula for it, so there will always be some variation when different people look at academic merit.  If asked to rank 50 students 1-50 without an index score it is very doubtful that any two adcomms would come across with the exact same list.

"Subjective"/"random": same thing. Unless you mean that there is uncertainty at the margins, I doubt that it is as subjective as you are suggesting. If it were, there wouldn't be any conflict or litigation around the issue of affirmative action. No-one would notice anything at all; a 4.0/180 would apply to a very large list of schools, just to be safe of being admitted somewhere, etc.

The whole point is that admits' numbers (i.e. what adcomms use to define merit) are bunched together at each school. AA & in-state admissions are the principal disruptors of that pattern. It looks like three different admissions tracks, and the question is whether this is justified. Saying that the process is subjective seems unsatisfactory as a response, let alone as a justification.


I did not say the admissions process was subjective, and I didn't even hint at that until my last post which responded to you because I wasn't paying attention to what I was saying.  I said merit is an abstract concept that because it is an abstract concept, it ends up being normative and subjective.  My point was def. not that the admissions process is random so why talk about it?--My point was that trying to justify AA through an argument rooted in merit, will at least in part fall short because merit is a subjective concept.  I didn't say anything about the admissions process, you didn't understand the original argument--again the argument is that approaching the AA question from a merit perspective is a good idea but can't reach a completely satisfactory answer, hence did you not notice I listed like 6 other perspectives to appoach the AA question from.

 I don't know if you read the board a lot, but I have written in a lot of AA threads, and started quite a few, usually the goal being when I start a thread to appoach the question from a different perspective that hasn't been done on this board-You are missing the argument I put out, merit is an abstract, normative, subjective concept, you can get somewhere, but only so far by focusing on it, when I first brought in the argument that merit was subjective-I did so to say that people were getting petty in their arguments-trying to quantify merit.  Honestly I never said the answer to justifying AA is that merit is subjective-infact I said any justification of AA on merit is at best incomplete.   
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: philibusters on July 26, 2006, 01:10:12 PM
Looking back I see the problem, Southside summarized the argument in a way I wouldn't agree with.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: BPM on July 26, 2006, 01:10:53 PM
You're missing a very basic argument.

We live in a democratic society where the needs of the communities need voicing at not only the legislative, but also the commercial, educational, scientific, and legal level.  An effective democratic voice requires both sufficient numbers and the monetary means

Education creates professionals who are capable of voicing these concerns, but the community concerns cannot be fully addressed unless a sufficient number of graduates are produced who in tune with the needs of these communities. 

In effect, education is a means to an end.  The end in this case is a diversified professional workforce that is representative of the general population at large.  A component to having a democratic voice is the economic means to provide that voice, and affirmative action enables poorer groups (traditionally lacking the monetary requirement for a democratic voice) to achieve certain numbers of professional to hopefully exert the needs of the respective communities.

If one truly believes in democracy, they would want reasonable representation of races (with the assumption that race implies different community needs) at all levels of society.

You assume an aweful lot here.

Yes, it's such a nebulous idealistic goal-based argument, and the beauty is it can't really be argued against.  Something you'd only see from the Republican party, because the obvious retort is "You must be against democracy!"

FWIW, I am thinking beyond the academic environment.  For example in the sciences, there's an extremely high dropout rate of entry and mid-level females because the representation at the upper levels is quite poor.  Similar observances are made in the field of law.  For racial AA admits, it's even worse.

It becomes extremely wasteful to produce a high number of AA professionals, yet watch them dropout early in their career due to percieved barriers to advancement.  That argument hopefully addresses why anyone even would even care.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Freak on July 26, 2006, 01:27:07 PM
Speaking solely for law, many drop out because it becomes readily apparent that only if you don't live from paycheck to paycheck and don't have a credit rating of 400 can you afford justice.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: aerynn on July 26, 2006, 01:42:01 PM
My point was that trying to justify AA through an argument rooted in merit, will at least in part fall short because merit is a subjective concept. 

Ok. Why is it that merit (as a "subjective concept") is defined or happens to coincide with  - except at the margins - a tight and higher GPA/LSAT index index for regular applicants, but is defined in such a way as to coincide with a lower distribution of index scores) for URMs and for in-state applicants?

If merit is a "subjective concept", is the gap in the median index score coincidental?

What justifies this? Why should the average Hispanic applicant get a boost, or special consideration, or whatever else it is that AA does?

Whatever the answer to this question is, I don't think that saying that "merit is subjective anyway" is going to lead to a full and satisfactory answer. At best, it can only provide some guidance as to why two candidates with close but incommensurate application profiles may be ranked differently by one school, but not by another. That is, it's only useful at the margins.


We've decided, as a society, that one's GPA and LSAT score correlate in some way with your intelligence and work ethic.  We have also decided that smart, hard working people are the best people to admit to law school.  Thus, GPA and LSAT as measures of "merit."

Suppose GPA and LSAT were NOT indicative of intelligence or work ethic, due to the test taker speaking only Japanese and the school she attended grading nothing higher than a B (to teach students that there is no such thing as perfection and that an A paper will forever remain an unattainable goal).  To admit her you would have to find another way to discover her intelligence and work ethic.  Thus, you comb through her app "holistically" to discover if she has "merit."

Now let's suppose that the numbers by which we judge merit are broken for every minority in the country.  How do you fix it?

That is the conversation we are having about AA.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: douyahoo on July 26, 2006, 01:44:03 PM
Based on what you've said, a democracy necessarily encompasses equal opportunity.  That conceded, wouldn't that mean affirmative action based primarily on socioeconomic status -- since foreign-born minorities are currently the benficiaries of affirmative action designed for native born minorities?  Don't poor white kids represent a voice, too?  
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: aerynn on July 26, 2006, 01:49:22 PM
This comes back to the widely derrided and discarded arguement that if there is going to be large group of minority lawyers serving minority and majority communities, it may be beneficial for the Ivory Tower to have at least a passing familiarity with them and their ideas, approach to the practice of law, etc.

Especially since the T14 is responsible for nearly all of law academia.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: aerynn on July 26, 2006, 01:52:37 PM
We've decided, as a society, that one's GPA and LSAT score correlate in some way with your intelligence and work ethic.  We have also decided that smart, hard working people are the best people to admit to law school.  Thus, GPA and LSAT as measures of "merit."

Suppose GPA and LSAT were NOT indicative of intelligence or work ethic, due to the test taker speaking only Japanese and the school she attended grading nothing higher than a B (to teach students that there is no such thing as perfection and that an A paper will forever remain an unattainable goal).  To admit her you would have to find another way to discover her intelligence and work ethic.  Thus, you comb through her app "holistically" to discover if she has "merit."

Now let's suppose that the numbers by which we judge merit are broken for every minority in the country.  How do you fix it?

That is the conversation we are having about AA.

Got it. That's red.'s justification, and I largely buy it. If nothing else, it's wily.

I'm having a hard time seeing how the justification that philibusters is proposing is any any way different from hers.

I think their difference is largely conceptual.  Red seems to believe that by adjusting LSAT scores, if not mathmatically than conceptually, one can still get a clear picture of an applicant's merit.

Phili seems to be saying that "merit" is such a subjective idea, even the idea that the LSAT could measure any sort of intellectual merit is subjective, that it is sort of silly to get so worked up over what margin of points is owed to whom and for what justification.  Stop fussing over numbers and start looking at who will make a good lawyer.

At least, that is my interpretation.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 26, 2006, 02:10:58 PM
If that is what red. is saying, then you should also keep in mind that the "merit" she speaks of is very narrowly defined, like the terms of a game.  It is NOT "merit" in the general sense of the word.

She advocates a better test of aptitude -- one that is more accurate and less discriminatory.  It is this aptitude that constitutes her definition of "merit".
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: aerynn on July 26, 2006, 02:17:15 PM
What if there is no such thing as an accurate test of apptitude?  What if any test that will be administered to a racial majority will, by definition, be a bad fit for members of the minority that dis-identify with the majority and go out of their way to hold on to their minority group membership by operating under a unique paradigm?

Further, since there are so few relative minority applicants, how much effort to compensate for their difference is justified?  Why not just admit a "reasonable" percentage to each school and be done with it, rather than go crazy trying to make one test fit all?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: philibusters on July 26, 2006, 02:38:07 PM
My point was that trying to justify AA through an argument rooted in merit, will at least in part fall short because merit is a subjective concept. 

Ok. Why is it that merit (as a "subjective concept") is defined or happens to coincide with  - except at the margins - a tight and higher GPA/LSAT index index for regular applicants, but is defined in such a way as to coincide with a lower distribution of index scores) for URMs and for in-state applicants?

If merit is a "subjective concept", is the gap in the median index score coincidental?

What justifies this? Why should the average Hispanic applicant get a boost, or special consideration, or whatever else it is that AA does?

Whatever the answer to this question is, I don't think that saying that "merit is subjective anyway" is going to lead to a full and satisfactory answer. At best, it can only provide some guidance as to why two candidates with close but incommensurate application profiles may be ranked differently by one school, but not by another. That is, it's only useful at the margins.


Dude, first you ask "Ok. Why is it that merit (as a "subjective concept") is defined or happens to coincide with  - except at the margins - a tight and higher GPA/LSAT index index for regular applicants, but is defined in such a way as to coincide with a lower distribution of index scores) for URMs and for in-state applicants?"--the answer is because merit is subjective in the eye of the beholder, so that schools might find merit in diversity.  You don't have merit yourself- merit can only come from a second person perceiving that you have merit-how they define that merit is subjective-diversity is inapplicable to most candiadates but applicable to others, therefore the school only applies it to some.   Remember merit is in the eye of the beholder... I started a thread about the beholder (institutions of higher education)... http://www.lawschooldiscussion.org/prelaw/index.php/topic,60525.0.html (http://www.lawschooldiscussion.org/prelaw/index.php/topic,60525.0.html)
You seem to be assuming the job of law schools is to act as a filter for merit-in that context lsat and gpa would be main criteria of merit-but thats wrong- law schools have many functions-and some law schools place different values on their functions from other law schools, some might take serious diviesity and hence diveristy is a criteria for merit--its subjective- merit is only in the eye of the beholder.  You keep saying merit only matters for the absolute border line kids--obviously thats untrue or else there would be no AA.

Then you ask "What justifies this? Why should the average Hispanic applicant get a boost, or special consideration, or whatever else it is that AA does?"

If I am right and in the end AA can only be justified from a normative perspective, then go back to page 31 of this thread, just one page ago I think and look at the like 15 normative arguments I listed.


Finally you say "Whatever the answer to this question is, I don't think that saying that "merit is subjective anyway" is going to lead to a full and satisfactory answer."--which was my whole point, any justification of AA cannot solely be based on merit-go back to the where I originally started the argument merit is subjective because Southside misstated it and you keep attributing to me what Southside said.

Edit
1.  After criticizning Red for using a normative base, I then brag about making 15 normative arguments-duh, that was stupid.  I got sidetracked and starting making inconsistent statements.  After further consideration, I go back to what I originally said in the companion thread, AA can only be justified on a normative basis-not based on numbers.  In my eagerness to disagree with others, I got confused-and said that merit is subjective and hence can only be of limited use in justifying AA.  To some degree thats probably true, but that is probably true of any normative argument justifying AA--so that in the end the best justification in my view is a normative one, based on my normative perspectives though, backuped by why you hold your normative perspective.  In hind sight I see thats what Red was doing when saying 170 wasn't necessarily better than 164 because of stereotype threat, et cetera and that I probably shouldn't said neither is right because merit is subjective, but that both of them are right because merit is in the eye of the beholder--a normative opinon of what law schools should value .

2.  We should stop arguing because you are talking about statement 6 from southside's post, and I am talking about my own post, so we are talking about two seperate things. 

3. Just notice another one, I said you "assume it a filter for merit" after I jsut said merit in unquantifiable, I meant "you assume its a filter for academic excellency"-I was accidently agreeing with Scipio by not paying attention to what I was saying.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: aerynn on July 26, 2006, 04:10:52 PM
"Disidentify" means "not care". 

That's not true at all.  There is seriously no point in continuing this conversation if that is the preconceived idea you are clinging to.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: aerynn on July 26, 2006, 04:24:44 PM
"Disidentify" means "not care". 

That's not true at all.  There is seriously no point in continuing this conversation if that is the preconceived idea you are clinging to.

I honestly thought it did. I'm black & not trying to flame or to be disingenuous. Anyway, I'll look it up and see what I can find. Apologies in advance for my false assumption.

I apologize if you weren't trying to flame.  I've just seen so many of my friends have to choose between idenifying with their black or hispanic race or being rejected for "acting white."  Those that surrendered their minority identification in order to succeed in the upper middle class white culture at my high school found themselves alienated by both groups.  To the rich white kids, the minority kids were always going to be minorities.  To the poorer minority kids, the upper middle class "white acting" kids were betraying their culture and their race.

To say that an uppper middle class black or hispanic kid doesn't face any problems due to their race is just so naive, based on what I've seen.  To see that struggle to identify with a culture that is very muddled with a lower SES, so that even having a higher SES jeopardizes a racial minority from being able to identify with and form friendships with others of that minority . . . it is a tough line to walk your whole life, especially during the teen years when group identification is the be all, end all of life.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: redemption on July 27, 2006, 07:23:34 AM
I'm going to be away for a few days. Please keep the discussion going, but keep it reasonably cordial and information-driven. It's no good to fling opinions back-and-forth, and it's no good proposing justifications for, or arguments against, affirmative action that won't persuade others.

Some suggestions:

This thread is not necessarily about stereotype threat, but it is about providing a sound justification for race-based affirmative action. This probably requires that any arguments for or against isolate race as an independent variable to be considered in the admissions process, and probably also requires a consideration of 'equal opportunity' in the law school admissons process.

In other words, imagine that you are addressing a white candidate whose numbers are at or just below the median, and are persuading her that there is a plausible and fair reason why she and other candidates like her were not admitted, but URM candidates with lower numbers were.

Bear in mind, too, that it is probably useful to construct an argument that has a reasonable chance of passing Constitutional scrutiny, whether or not it would survive the scrutiny of this particular composition of the Court.

Otherwise, the conversation will tend toward the pie-in-the-sky.

Cheers.  :)
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: bass on July 27, 2006, 07:25:06 AM
I like pie.

No matter where it is.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: redemption on July 27, 2006, 07:29:14 AM
I like pie.

No matter where it is.

You, my friend, should stop skulking around, and get in this thread. What's the use of being a philosopher of law if you won't share?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: bass on July 27, 2006, 07:33:06 AM
I like pie.

No matter where it is.

You, my friend, should stop skulking around, and get in this thread. What's the use of being a philosopher of law if you won't share?

Ha!  Yea, this seems to be more social psychology around here.  I'm honestly puzzled by AA and its justifications.  I haven't done much work on it, but I'll give it some thought.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: redemption on July 27, 2006, 07:45:23 AM

Ha!  Yea, this seems to be more social psychology around here.  I'm honestly puzzled by AA and its justifications.  I haven't done much work on it, but I'll give it some thought.

Social psych is not the only way in or out of this discussion. If the numbers differ between URMs and the rest, the reason for the difference is key to determining whether AA is appropriate, fair, and/or justified.

I led off with stereotype threat because I find it the explanation that best fits the facts. And based on that explanation made a normative case that AA - narrowly constructed - is justified and required.

I didn't work backwards from the conclusion that I wanted. If the explanation that best fit the facts were something else (e.g. URM applicants are simply not as prepared), I would have likely come to different conclusions, not excluding those that come out against Law School AA altogether.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Lily Jaye on July 27, 2006, 08:06:38 AM
I'm going to be away for a few days. Please keep the discussion going, but keep it reasonably cordial and information-driven. It's no good to fling opinions back-and-forth, and it's no good proposing justifications for, or arguments against, affirmative action that won't persuade others.

Some suggestions:

This thread is not necessarily about stereotype threat, but it is about providing a sound justification for race-based affirmative action. This probably requires that any arguments for or against isolate race as an independent variable to be considered in the admissions process, and probably also requires a consideration of 'equal opportunity' in the law school admissons process.

In other words, imagine that you are addressing a white candidate whose numbers are at or just below the median, and are persuading her that there is a plausible and fair reason why she and other candidates like her were not admitted, but URM candidates with lower numbers were.

In my experience, the way you're framing it won't convince people like her.  Race may be a separate variable influencing scores, but at the end of the day, SES still makes up the bulk of educational differences.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 27, 2006, 11:07:26 AM
I'm going to be away for a few days. Please keep the discussion going, but keep it reasonably cordial and information-driven. It's no good to fling opinions back-and-forth, and it's no good proposing justifications for, or arguments against, affirmative action that won't persuade others.

Some suggestions:

This thread is not necessarily about stereotype threat, but it is about providing a sound justification for race-based affirmative action. This probably requires that any arguments for or against isolate race as an independent variable to be considered in the admissions process, and probably also requires a consideration of 'equal opportunity' in the law school admissons process.

In other words, imagine that you are addressing a white candidate whose numbers are at or just below the median, and are persuading her that there is a plausible and fair reason why she and other candidates like her were not admitted, but URM candidates with lower numbers were.

In my experience, the way you're framing it won't convince people like her.  Race may be a separate variable influencing scores, but at the end of the day, SES still makes up the bulk of educational differences.

What keeps dropping out of this thread is the fact that race is experienced materially, and it is a factor in how SES is actually lived -- specifically, blackness exacerbates poverty and impoverishes the black middle class, according to the standards we hold for the majority.  Even middle-class black kids are likely to be (a) in poor black schools suffering all of the educational disadvantages (which I have listed throughout this board, but not this thread) of their poorer black peers, (b) subject to unfair or unnecessary discipline, high-stakes testing, and special-education transfers that their white peers do not face, (c) less wealthy than similarly situated (same income level) whites, (d) the first people in their families to earn college degrees or to attempt advanced professional degrees, and (e) adversely affected by negative associations of blackness with poverty, poor education, dangerousness, etc.  They also may feel a particular, racialized discouragement when they see the effects of pervasive racism and classism around them.  For instance, last year I think there were only 9 black 1Ls at Boalt, out of a class of something like 270.  And this is up from the previous years.  The numbers may be equally as bad for poor whites (I'm not sure), but this is not visible in the same way, so I can't imagine t being as dispiriting to poor white applicants and prospective applicants (not that the world they live in isn't plenty dispiriting).

I understand the narrow goal of justifying AA to a middling and bitter white applicant, and I know my flip responses won't do the trick.  I think the real problem, however, is that we are continually misrepresenting race -- on one hand as an isolated variable that only produces material effects in very narrow situations (can't hail a cab, harassed by cops, stereotype threat) and on the other hand as solely an index of SES.  It is both of these things, but much more.  We need to shift our discussion of race relations in general; a more productive conversation about AA will follow.  Call this pie in the sky if you wish, but I don't see any way around it.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SouthSide on July 27, 2006, 12:03:22 PM
What keeps dropping out of this thread is the fact that race is experienced materially, and it is a factor in how SES is actually lived -- specifically, blackness exacerbates poverty and impoverishes the black middle class, according to the standards we hold for the majority.  Even middle-class black kids are likely to be (a) in poor black schools suffering all of the educational disadvantages (which I have listed throughout this board, but not this thread) of their poorer black peers, (b) subject to unfair or unnecessary discipline, high-stakes testing, and special-education transfers that their white peers do not face, (c) less wealthy than similarly situated (same income level) whites, (d) the first people in their families to earn college degrees or to attempt advanced professional degrees, and (e) adversely affected by negative associations of blackness with poverty, poor education, dangerousness, etc.  They also may feel a particular, racialized discouragement when they see the effects of pervasive racism and classism around them.  For instance, last year I think there were only 9 black 1Ls at Boalt, out of a class of something like 270.  And this is up from the previous years.  The numbers may be equally as bad for poor whites (I'm not sure), but this is not visible in the same way, so I can't imagine t being as dispiriting to poor white applicants and prospective applicants (not that the world they live in isn't plenty dispiriting).

I understand the narrow goal of justifying AA to a middling and bitter white applicant, and I know my flip responses won't do the trick.  I think the real problem, however, is that we are continually misrepresenting race -- on one hand as an isolated variable that only produces material effects in very narrow situations (can't hail a cab, harassed by cops, stereotype threat) and on the other hand as solely an index of SES.  It is both of these things, but much more.  We need to shift our discussion of race relations in general; a more productive conversation about AA will follow.  Call this pie in the sky if you wish, but I don't see any way around it.

Right. This is what I've been trying to gesture at for my last several posts on this thread. To put it more simply, and to reference Cornel West, race matters. Its effects are felt pervasively in our society, and the main effect is systematic disadvantaging of minorities, especially black Americans. In the face of this, affirmative action seems like a necessary way of creating a fair and level playing field. Universities are the doorways to opportunity in this country, so if you believe in equality of opportunity for all, you should support affirmative action in admissions. It's disingenuous to claim that you believe in a colorblind system. We don't live in a colorblind world, unfortunately, and until we do, the most fair system is one that responds to the fact that certain groups of people are discriminated against.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on July 27, 2006, 12:17:15 PM
See, I agree with you, SouthSide.

However, it seems to me that red. started this thread specifically to stay away from just that sort of tangent.  Specifically to try and look for substantive, even empirically-based answers to this normative debate.

I think she's less interested in "why should we?" than "what is the evidence that supports why we should?". 

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Miss P on July 27, 2006, 12:20:57 PM
See, I agree with you, SouthSide.

However, it seems to me that red. started this thread specifically to stay away from just that sort of tangent.  Specifically to try and look for substantive, even empirically-based answers to this normative debate.

I think she's less interested in "why should we?" than "what is the evidence that supports why we should?". 

My feeling was that we couldn't provide a thoroughgoing justification to that person if we continue to talk about race the way we do.  I thought I provided some evidence about why and how race matters in my post.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on July 27, 2006, 12:27:27 PM
But I was talking to SouthSide...
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Miss P on July 27, 2006, 12:30:58 PM
But I was talking to SouthSide...


:D I know, you did address him by name, even! But since he was agreeing with me...  you know, transitive property, that whole bit.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: SouthSide on July 27, 2006, 12:53:52 PM
See, I agree with you, SouthSide.

However, it seems to me that red. started this thread specifically to stay away from just that sort of tangent.  Specifically to try and look for substantive, even empirically-based answers to this normative debate.

I think she's less interested in "why should we?" than "what is the evidence that supports why we should?". 



I will resist the urge to psychoanalyze red and say why exactly she started this thread.

Rather, I will say that the stereotype threat is an excellent piece of evidence that strongly supports the use of affirmative action. However, I don't think that it does so in the way that red. does. She seems to be arguing that, essentially, there is a statistical fluke that, once corrected for, will basically level the playing field. Thus, we should just iron out that statistical wrinkle and all will be right with the world.

For me, that statistical fluke is just one part of the story. I think the importance of something like the stereotype threat is that it offers extremely compelling evidence of one of the many effects of racism in society (specifically, the psychological impact it has on members of minority groups). While red's argument would be severely damaged by evidence that indicated that the stereotype threat itself only accounts for a small part of LSAT scoring gaps, my argument would not be harmed by this. Thus, I actually think you have to take the larger picture into account to make the case. It is this larger picture that provides a more comprehensive justification for AA, and one that I think you can convince many people to support, even those who feel harmed by AA.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Lily Jaye on July 28, 2006, 01:09:30 PM
I'm going to be away for a few days. Please keep the discussion going, but keep it reasonably cordial and information-driven. It's no good to fling opinions back-and-forth, and it's no good proposing justifications for, or arguments against, affirmative action that won't persuade others.

Some suggestions:

This thread is not necessarily about stereotype threat, but it is about providing a sound justification for race-based affirmative action. This probably requires that any arguments for or against isolate race as an independent variable to be considered in the admissions process, and probably also requires a consideration of 'equal opportunity' in the law school admissons process.

In other words, imagine that you are addressing a white candidate whose numbers are at or just below the median, and are persuading her that there is a plausible and fair reason why she and other candidates like her were not admitted, but URM candidates with lower numbers were.

In my experience, the way you're framing it won't convince people like her.  Race may be a separate variable influencing scores, but at the end of the day, SES still makes up the bulk of educational differences.

What keeps dropping out of this thread is the fact that race is experienced materially, and it is a factor in how SES is actually lived -- specifically, blackness exacerbates poverty and impoverishes the black middle class, according to the standards we hold for the majority.  Even middle-class black kids are likely to be (a) in poor black schools suffering all of the educational disadvantages (which I have listed throughout this board, but not this thread) of their poorer black peers,  (b) subject to unfair or unnecessary discipline, high-stakes testing, and special-education transfers that their white peers do not face, (c) less wealthy than similarly situated (same income level) whites, (d) the first people in their families to earn college degrees or to attempt advanced professional degrees, and (e) adversely affected by negative associations of blackness with poverty, poor education, dangerousness, etc.  They also may feel a particular, racialized discouragement when they see the effects of pervasive racism and classism around them.  For instance, last year I think there were only 9 black 1Ls at Boalt, out of a class of something like 270.  And this is up from the previous years.  The numbers may be equally as bad for poor whites (I'm not sure), but this is not visible in the same way, so I can't imagine t being as dispiriting to poor white applicants and prospective applicants (not that the world they live in isn't plenty dispiriting).

I understand the narrow goal of justifying AA to a middling and bitter white applicant, and I know my flip responses won't do the trick.  I think the real problem, however, is that we are continually misrepresenting race -- on one hand as an isolated variable that only produces material effects in very narrow situations (can't hail a cab, harassed by cops, stereotype threat) and on the other hand as solely an index of SES.  It is both of these things, but much more.  We need to shift our discussion of race relations in general; a more productive conversation about AA will follow.  Call this pie in the sky if you wish, but I don't see any way around it.

I know I'm a wee bit distracted at the moment by the rat running around in my room, but as far as I can tell, B-E explains the gap that occurs once you account for SES.  It's a question of mistaking absolute impact for its relative cousin.

Only A is really pertinent  for what you seem to want to argue-- and that concern is easily remedied by primarily classifying a student's SES on school instead of parental income.  (With the notable exception being public magnets and scholarship recepients at private high schools, in which case you'd have to pay really close attention to both.) 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: obamacon on July 28, 2006, 01:47:08 PM
What's the use of being a philosopher of law if you won't share?

I, for one, am trying to work up my interest in posting again, but as of yet have been unable to do so. Yes, I know I'm brilliant and I know you're waiting, almost assuredly in a state of suspenseful anticipation, to hear from me, but perhaps if you can interest me with a response to my Russian thread I can work up the energy to post another miracle of modern thought.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 28, 2006, 02:51:06 PM
What keeps dropping out of this thread is the fact that race is experienced materially, and it is a factor in how SES is actually lived -- specifically, blackness exacerbates poverty and impoverishes the black middle class, according to the standards we hold for the majority.  Even middle-class black kids are likely to be (a) in poor black schools suffering all of the educational disadvantages (which I have listed throughout this board, but not this thread) of their poorer black peers,  (b) subject to unfair or unnecessary discipline, high-stakes testing, and special-education transfers that their white peers do not face, (c) less wealthy than similarly situated (same income level) whites, (d) the first people in their families to earn college degrees or to attempt advanced professional degrees, and (e) adversely affected by negative associations of blackness with poverty, poor education, dangerousness, etc.  They also may feel a particular, racialized discouragement when they see the effects of pervasive racism and classism around them.  For instance, last year I think there were only 9 black 1Ls at Boalt, out of a class of something like 270.  And this is up from the previous years.  The numbers may be equally as bad for poor whites (I'm not sure), but this is not visible in the same way, so I can't imagine t being as dispiriting to poor white applicants and prospective applicants (not that the world they live in isn't plenty dispiriting).

I understand the narrow goal of justifying AA to a middling and bitter white applicant, and I know my flip responses won't do the trick.  I think the real problem, however, is that we are continually misrepresenting race -- on one hand as an isolated variable that only produces material effects in very narrow situations (can't hail a cab, harassed by cops, stereotype threat) and on the other hand as solely an index of SES.  It is both of these things, but much more.  We need to shift our discussion of race relations in general; a more productive conversation about AA will follow.  Call this pie in the sky if you wish, but I don't see any way around it.

I know I'm a wee bit distracted at the moment by the rat running around in my room, but as far as I can tell, B-E explains the gap that occurs once you account for SES.  It's a question of mistaking absolute impact for its relative cousin.

Only A is really pertinent  for what you seem to want to argue-- and that concern is easily remedied by primarily classifying a student's SES on school instead of parental income.  (With the notable exception being public magnets and scholarship recepients at private high schools, in which case you'd have to pay really close attention to both.) 

Lily, so sorry about the rat!  I am terrified of rats.

I don't know why B-E aren't relevant, though.  At least B and E are directly relevant.  C - the wealth question  - is a fuzzy one, because it is something that is hard to read in income tax submissions and parental jobs and even schools, but it may both psychically and materially affect someone's academic achievement (through having to work, through ineligibility for loans, through not having various safety nets, etc.).  You're right, however, that this may be a situation where blackness is just an index of asset poverty, and not a multiplier.  D - first person in the family to do X - may also be "merely" a question of SES, but I think it also goes to my last point about how psychically damaging it is to have few role models or positive experiences or to have the sense that people like you can achieve certain goals.  (I grew up middle class, but I had a lot of white friends who were very poor.  I am not saying that they didn't have a sense of exclusion from elite society based on their class position.  I do, however, think that this is fundamentally different.)

Finally, I'm not sure what the resistance is to having AA based on both SES and race, frankly.  It's clear that there is both racial and class-based difference in our society and specifically in terms of academic achievement, test scores, and financial and other preparation to go to professional school.  Why limit yourself to addressing one?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SouthSide on July 28, 2006, 03:36:29 PM

I don't know why B-E aren't relevant, though.  At least B and E are directly relevant.  C - the wealth question  - is a fuzzy one, because it is something that is hard to read in income tax submissions and parental jobs and even schools, but it may both psychically and materially affect someone's academic achievement (through having to work, through ineligibility for loans, through not having various safety nets, etc.).  You're right, however, that this may be a situation where blackness is just an index of asset poverty, and not a multiplier.  D - first person in the family to do X - may also be "merely" a question of SES, but I think it also goes to my last point about how psychically damaging it is to have few role models or positive experiences or to have the sense that people like you can achieve certain goals.  (I grew up middle class, but I had a lot of white friends who were very poor.  I am not saying that they didn't have a sense of exclusion from elite society based on their class position.  I do, however, think that this is fundamentally different.)

Finally, I'm not sure what the resistance is to having AA based on both SES and race, frankly.  It's clear that there is both racial and class-based difference in our society and specifically in terms of academic achievement, test scores, and financial and other preparation to go to professional school.  Why limit yourself to addressing one?

I second Miss P's response to Lily about B-E. They seem highly relevant to me, and I'm not sure where Lily's going when she says they're not.

In response to the point about SES-based affirmative action, I definitely believe it should be used for college admissions. I'm not so sure it should be used for law school admissions, though. Here's my reasoning. Law schools are basically only considering college graduates (with possible rare exceptions, such as the President's personal assistant). So, once you have selected that pool, I think you should focus on correcting for any discrimination felt within that pool. Here, it is unclear that poor white people experience any discrimination during college or in the taking of post-college standardized tests. It seems abundantly clear, however, that black students do experience ongoing discrimination during college and on the administration of the LSAT.

You could argue that poor people suffer from social exclusion while in college, but this seems difficult to establish. I would argue based on my own experience that class divisions on college campuses, if they exist at all, are not nearly as stark as racial divisions on college campuses. Also, you could argue that poor people are more likely to have to work while in college, which discriminates against them. The research here is very mixed, however. Lots of studies argue that having a job while in college actually helps a student's academic achievement.

I am arguing for using AA as a corrective measure to ensure equality of opportunity in the face of systematic discrimination. It would appear that the subgroup of poor students within the population of college graduates has not suffered from systematic discrimination. However, most of the evidence points to the conclusion that the subgroup of minority students within the population of college graduates has indeed continued to suffer from systematic discrimination. Thus, I would be more hesitant to use SES AA for law school admissions.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: obamacon on July 28, 2006, 03:48:15 PM
Law schools are basically only considering college graduates (with possible rare exceptions, such as the President's personal assistant).

I’d just like to point out that law schools require you to have at least 3 years of college (with most requiring 4) before you can be admitted. The President’s assistant was admitted to an MBA program as far as I remember.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 28, 2006, 04:35:45 PM
You could argue that poor people suffer from social exclusion while in college, but this seems difficult to establish. I would argue based on my own experience that class divisions on college campuses, if they exist at all, are not nearly as stark as racial divisions on college campuses.

Yeah, this is because everyone at elite private colleges is posing as poor or middle class.  You have Persian princes and daughters of Texas oil magnates pretending they understand what you're talking about when you say "FAFSA" or claiming they're worried about how they'll pay for their next tickets home.  At least that's how it was back in the day.

Though I usually agree with you SouthSide, I disagree rather strongly on this point.  I do not believe that disadvantage based in SES is adequately corrected for in undergraduate admissions, and I do not believe that kids without money and other family resources have as easy a time in college or after as their wealthier peers.  I am thinking of small things like having to read books on reserve instead of owning them, using the computer labs instead of personal computers, and staying on meal plan instead of getting to run around with one's friends at restaurants, but also larger things like social networking, level of preparation, and comfort in various professional environments.  People who are the first person in their family to attend college, for instance, face really tough decisions about whether and how to enter the workforce upon graduation (So many people I know from my low-level Ivy practically volunteered for their first couple of years out of school, but you can't do that without family money.  I temped), how and if to save money, buy a house, support their families, etc.  Also, if their families have bad credit histories, they may have all kinds of trouble financing professional school.  These are just a couple of issues at the tip of the iceberg.  But I'm not here to sermonize since this is going a bit off-topic.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on July 28, 2006, 04:52:23 PM
What's the use of being a philosopher of law if you won't share?

I, for one, am trying to work up my interest in posting again, but as of yet have been unable to do so. Yes, I know I'm brilliant and I know you're waiting, almost assuredly in a state of suspenseful anticipation, to hear from me, but perhaps if you can interest me with a response to my Russian thread I can work up the energy to post another miracle of modern thought.

No.

You don't debate.  You dabble.

Case dismissed.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: H4CS on July 28, 2006, 04:53:46 PM
You could argue that poor people suffer from social exclusion while in college, but this seems difficult to establish. I would argue based on my own experience that class divisions on college campuses, if they exist at all, are not nearly as stark as racial divisions on college campuses.

Yeah, this is because everyone at elite private colleges posing as poor or middle class.  You have Persian princes and daughters of Texas oil magnates pretending they understand what you're talking about when you say "FAFSA" or claiming they're worried about how they'll pay for their next tickets home.  At least that's how it was back in the day.

Though I usually agree with you SouthSide, I disagree rather strongly on this point.  I do not believe that disadvantage based in SES is adequately corrected for in undergraduate admissions, and I do not believe that kids without money and other family resources have as easy a time in college or after as their wealthier peers.  I am thinking of small things like having to read books on reserve instead of owning them, using the computer labs instead of personal computers, and staying on meal plan instead of getting to run around with one's friends at restaurants, but also larger things like social networking, level of preparation, and comfort in various professional environments.  People who are the first person in their family to attend college, for instance, face really tough decisions about whether and how to enter the workforce upon graduation (So many people I know from my low-level Ivy practically volunteered for their first couple of years out of school, but you can't do that without family money.  I temped), how and if to save money, buy a house, support their families, etc.  Also, if their families have bad credit histories, they may have all kinds of trouble financing professional school.  These are just a couple of issues at the tip of the iceberg.  But I'm not here to sermonize since this is going a bit off-topic.

I second Miss P's response on how SES is not answered at the undergrad level.  When I get back home and give my promised response, I have a huge section on this.  Essentially, soft-factors are often tyrannically biased towards the privileged, internships and opportunities often being given to those with the ability to afford them and the connections to receive them.  It's why I cringe when those who recognize the LSAT as biased turn to soft-factors, which I think are deeply encoded with the markers of SES and race. 

It may be more impressive to Hypothetical Law School that candidate A travelled to Burma to work in an orphanage when compared to candidate B who spent her summers working in Anonymous Firm C.  Yet it might be the case that had candidate B been able to afford the expensive program that accepted all 100% of applicants1 who could pay then she would not only have travelled to Burma but might have done a better job, had the kind of experience that would allow her to write a better PS, who knows.  Then again, that might not be the case.

1 I included this because the decisions of scholarship and award committees that have limited funding and provide financial support to those candidates they select might provide enough information to determine between these cases.  Then again, they too fall for soft-factors, etc.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: obamacon on July 28, 2006, 04:54:24 PM
I do not believe that kids without money and other family resources have as easy a time in college or after as their wealthier peers.

Is that necessarily a bad thing?

Quote
I am thinking of small things like having to read books on reserve instead of owning them, using the computer labs instead of personal computers, and staying on meal plan instead of getting to run around with one's friends at restaurants, but also larger things like social networking, level of preparation, and comfort in various professional environments.

Of course there is another side of this. Having everything isn’t necessarily an advantage, nor does it always produce the most successful people. The things you mentioned above, while certainly inconvenient, often produce well-adjusted people willing to do amazing things with their lives rather than maintain what their parents built (or even squander it all).

Quote
Also, if their families have bad credit histories, they may have all kinds of trouble financing professional school.

This is entirely the fault of the family, and no accommodations should be made for such poor decision making (with very few exceptions).

Quote
But I'm not here to sermonize since this is going a bit off-topic.

Indeed.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 28, 2006, 04:58:48 PM
I do not believe that kids without money and other family resources have as easy a time in college or after as their wealthier peers.

Is that necessarily a bad thing?

Quote
I am thinking of small things like having to read books on reserve instead of owning them, using the computer labs instead of personal computers, and staying on meal plan instead of getting to run around with one's friends at restaurants, but also larger things like social networking, level of preparation, and comfort in various professional environments.

Of course there is another side of this. Having everything isn’t necessarily an advantage, nor does it always produce the most successful people. The things you mentioned above, while certainly inconvenient, often produce well-adjusted people willing to do amazing things with their lives rather than maintain what their parents built (or even squander it all).

Quote
Also, if their families have bad credit histories, they may have all kinds of trouble financing professional school.

This is entirely the fault of the family, and no accommodations should be made for such poor decision making (with very few exceptions).

Quote
But I'm not here to sermonize since this is going a bit off-topic.

Indeed.



I rest my case. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 28, 2006, 05:12:48 PM
I do not believe that kids without money and other family resources have as easy a time in college or after as their wealthier peers.

Is that necessarily a bad thing?

Quote
I am thinking of small things like having to read books on reserve instead of owning them, using the computer labs instead of personal computers, and staying on meal plan instead of getting to run around with one's friends at restaurants, but also larger things like social networking, level of preparation, and comfort in various professional environments.

Of course there is another side of this. Having everything isn’t necessarily an advantage, nor does it always produce the most successful people. The things you mentioned above, while certainly inconvenient, often produce well-adjusted people willing to do amazing things with their lives rather than maintain what their parents built (or even squander it all).

Quote
Also, if their families have bad credit histories, they may have all kinds of trouble financing professional school.

This is entirely the fault of the family, and no accommodations should be made for such poor decision making (with very few exceptions).

Quote
But I'm not here to sermonize since this is going a bit off-topic.

Indeed.

I rest my case. 

Regarding the question of credit history - I guess I just live in a world where it's easier for me to imagine that people and their families sometimes make mistakes; it only compounds disadvantage to have those mistakes limit future opportunities as attenuated as a child's professional school loans. And maybe being in Canada muddles your perspective on this a bit: it's easy to get in a lot of debt in the US without making a lot of mistakes.  Housing prices, medical debt -- most people are one paycheck away from not being able to pay their loans off. This can really compromise someone's ability to go to professional school, and schools are not particularly accommodating of different family circumstances.  (I say this as a thirty-something who has lived 3000 miles away from her parents for half of her lifetime who nonetheless had to put all of their business on her financial aid forms.)

I don't really buy into the pop psychology of that which does not kill you makes you stronger, either.  Sure, there are lots of lazy, screwed up rich kids who don't appreciate what they have in life and don't even know how to write a check.  I guess being inconvenienced constantly makes some less privileged people more resourceful.  But is this kind of resourcefulness rewarded in professional school admissions?  I doubt it.  What's rewarded is having an unpaid internship at an NGO or knowing a senator or having written a book of short stories that Katie Couric chooses for the Today Show book club. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 28, 2006, 05:31:16 PM
I do not believe that kids without money and other family resources have as easy a time in college or after as their wealthier peers.

Is that necessarily a bad thing?

Quote
I am thinking of small things like having to read books on reserve instead of owning them, using the computer labs instead of personal computers, and staying on meal plan instead of getting to run around with one's friends at restaurants, but also larger things like social networking, level of preparation, and comfort in various professional environments.

Of course there is another side of this. Having everything isn’t necessarily an advantage, nor does it always produce the most successful people. The things you mentioned above, while certainly inconvenient, often produce well-adjusted people willing to do amazing things with their lives rather than maintain what their parents built (or even squander it all).

Quote
Also, if their families have bad credit histories, they may have all kinds of trouble financing professional school.

This is entirely the fault of the family, and no accommodations should be made for such poor decision making (with very few exceptions).

Quote
But I'm not here to sermonize since this is going a bit off-topic.

Indeed.

I rest my case. 

Regarding the question of credit history - I guess I just live in a world where it's easier for me to imagine that people and their families sometimes make mistakes; it only compounds disadvantage to have those mistakes limit future opportunities as attenuated as a child's professional school loans. And maybe being in Canada muddles your perspective on this a bit: it's easy to get in a lot of debt in the US without making a lot of mistakes.  Housing prices, medical debt -- most people are one paycheck away from not being able to pay their loans off. This can really compromise someone's ability to go to professional school, and schools are not particularly accommodating of different family circumstances.  (I say this as a thirty-something who has lived 3000 miles away from her parents for half of her lifetime who nonetheless had to put all of their business on her financial aid forms.)

I don't really buy into the pop psychology of that which does not kill you makes you stronger, either.  Sure, there are lots of lazy, screwed up rich kids who don't appreciate what they have in life and don't even know how to write a check.  I guess being inconvenienced constantly makes some less privileged people more resourceful.  But is this kind of resourcefulness rewarded in professional school admissions?  I doubt it.  What's rewarded is having an unpaid internship at an NGO or knowing a senator or having written a book of short stories that Katie Couric chooses for the Today Show book club. 


Miss P, I am on your side.

"I rest my case" was in reference to my previous post, where I pointed out that Breadboy is basically just a pseudo-troll.  The ridiculous post that I quoted to rest my case is proof of the point.  Either it's sublime ignorance, or it's intentional bull.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on July 28, 2006, 05:32:42 PM
By the way, it's just as easy to get into financial debt here as it is in the US.  Even easier, since people tend to believe that the safety net will cover them, so they do less to get out of debt, and then later find out that things aren't nearly as rosy as they were led to believe.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 28, 2006, 05:34:10 PM
I'm going to be away for a few days. Please keep the discussion going, but keep it reasonably cordial and information-driven. It's no good to fling opinions back-and-forth, and it's no good proposing justifications for, or arguments against, affirmative action that won't persuade others.

Some suggestions:

This thread is not necessarily about stereotype threat, but it is about providing a sound justification for race-based affirmative action. This probably requires that any arguments for or against isolate race as an independent variable to be considered in the admissions process, and probably also requires a consideration of 'equal opportunity' in the law school admissons process.

In other words, imagine that you are addressing a white candidate whose numbers are at or just below the median, and are persuading her that there is a plausible and fair reason why she and other candidates like her were not admitted, but URM candidates with lower numbers were.

In my experience, the way you're framing it won't convince people like her.  Race may be a separate variable influencing scores, but at the end of the day, SES still makes up the bulk of educational differences.

See theres no reason to convince the hypothetical mediocre white applicant, it doesnt matter.

Everybody gets caught up in LSATs and GPA as if they are some sort of axiomatic standard by which law schools have to admit people. They arent, they are just guidelines.  If Stanford wants to admit a kid with a 140 and a 2.0 thats their business. If they want to reserve 15 seats for black students thats their perogative.

No one has a right to law school.

Sure the public schools cant discriminate on race but when you realize that the LSAT and GPA arent binding on them either it becomes apparent that they arent discriminating against whites at all, they are discriminating against blacks, latinos, ESL applicants if they were to go by raw scores alone.

Why do people have trouble with this?


Because that validates the argument of reverse-discrimination. 

The argument in this thread is that the argument of reverse-discrimination is NOT valid. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 28, 2006, 06:09:56 PM
Miss P, I am on your side.

"I rest my case" was in reference to my previous post, where I pointed out that Breadboy is basically just a pseudo-troll.  The ridiculous post that I quoted to rest my case is proof of the point.  Either it's sublime ignorance, or it's intentional bull.


Oh, Jesus, I am so incredibly dim sometimes.  Forgive me, J.  I was definitely wondering how my clever friend up north made such a disastrous turn. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 28, 2006, 06:20:18 PM
Because that validates the argument of reverse-discrimination. 

The argument in this thread is that the argument of reverse-discrimination is NOT valid. 


Youre talking about reverse discrimination which is a political term.

Im not sure what you are saying.


I agree with Credo on this, and I don't believe that there is such a thing as "reverse-discrimination."  But is this another one of those tests where J is being Breadboy?  I'm so easily confused.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: SouthSide on July 28, 2006, 06:36:25 PM
I can't tell sometimes if breadboy is deliberately trolling or if he is just a dim bulb, but  whatever.

Let me just point out that we have broken out in agreement on the central issue so far. No one has tackled my initial argument about the legitimacy of AA as a way of promoting equality of opportunity in the face of pervasive inequality and discrimination. I think Miss P and I agree on this one, and it seems that Marauding J does as well.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: obamacon on July 28, 2006, 06:50:39 PM
Regarding the question of credit history - I guess I just live in a world where it's easier for me to imagine that people and their families sometimes make mistakes; it only compounds disadvantage to have those mistakes limit future opportunities as
attenuated as a child's professional school loans.

Yes, it does limit them in some sense, but I don’t find that particularly compelling. Even someone who declares bankruptcy only has poor credit for 7 years afterwards. I don’t blame people for their mistakes, but I do ask that they pay for them.

Quote
  Housing prices

You could move to a different area, not buy a house that’s above your means, or talk to a credit counselor about what you can and cannot afford to avoid any serious problems.

Quote
medical debt

Medical bills are one of the few exceptions I would make, although I still think people should better prepare themselves with health insurance covering only catastrophic medical claims (which is normally inexpensive).

Quote
most people are one paycheck away from not being able to pay their loans off.

I’m not sure how you’ve come up with most, but that is, again, their fault (except for a small minority of circumstances).

Quote
This can really compromise someone's ability to go to professional school, and schools are not particularly accommodating of different family circumstances.

You’re right, but is that necessarily a bad thing? Everyone has personal limits.

Quote
(I say this as a thirty-something who has lived 3000 miles away from her parents for half of her lifetime who nonetheless had to put all of their business on her financial aid forms.)

I disagree with law schools factoring in a parents income, but I understand why they’ve decided to add that in, and I acknowledge their right to do it.

Quote
I don't really buy into the pop psychology of that which does not kill you makes you stronger, either.

Nietzsche is hardly pop psychology ;)

Quote
I guess being inconvenienced constantly makes some less privileged people more resourceful.

Personally, I’m glad my parents weren’t more wealthy than they are now, and I probably would be twice the person I am now had I been of more humble birth.

Quote
But is this kind of resourcefulness rewarded in professional school admissions?

It’s the kind of resourcefulness that would lead a person to this kind of forum to learn just what is necessary to attend a professional school.

Quote
  What's rewarded is having an unpaid internship at an NGO or knowing a senator or having written a book of short stories that Katie Couric chooses for the Today Show book club. 

There are examples you can cite where being rich buys you all sorts of wonderful things, and if it is used correctly, I agree that it is a powerful tool. The problem is, the same things that let people build wealth often don’t make it past the initial builder. Internships and interviews with Katie Couric are nice, but those are hardly spectacular, especially when compared to what the intern or interviewees parents did. In my opinion, it sounds like someone with wealth that won’t make it to his grandchildren.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 28, 2006, 07:29:31 PM
Because that validates the argument of reverse-discrimination. 

The argument in this thread is that the argument of reverse-discrimination is NOT valid. 


Youre talking about reverse discrimination which is a political term.

Im not sure what you are saying.


I agree with Credo on this, and I don't believe that there is such a thing as "reverse-discrimination."  But is this another one of those tests where J is being Breadboy?  I'm so easily confused.

I don't believe there's any such thing as "reverse-discrimination" either.

Here, I'll go through the post (since I'm procrastinating on my chores, anyway):

Quote
See theres no reason to convince the hypothetical mediocre white applicant, it doesnt matter.

I agree with this.

Quote
Everybody gets caught up in LSATs and GPA as if they are some sort of axiomatic standard by which law schools have to admit people. They arent, they are just guidelines.  If Stanford wants to admit a kid with a 140 and a 2.0 thats their business. If they want to reserve 15 seats for black students thats their perogative.

This is true, but here's the problem.  If Stanford chooses ten black kids with 140s and 2.0s and chooses only one white kid with those numbers, then other white kids are going to start crying foul.  And legitimately so. 

The problem is that Stanford doesn't pick arbitrarily.  Almost no law school does.  It has those guidelines you spoke of, and it uses them for a reason -- to uphold a certain standard; to make sure a Stanford graduating class remains prestigious (whatever the @#!* they want that term to mean).

Stanford could, within rights, pick arbitrarily.  It doesn't.  It uses the LSAT and GPA to measure a student's aptitude, just like every other law school.  So when Johnny McWhitey doesn't get picked and Beyonce Blackskin does, and Johnny's numbers were considerably higher than Beyonce's, Johnny should be rightfully upset that he did not get in.  Now, his argument is valid.  It might not mean that Stanford's actions were criminal, but they sure were discriminatory.  Hence, "reverse-discrimination".  Which is a bull term, I know, but that's why I pulled it out of my magic hat.

THAT IS, IF THE LSAT (and, to an extent, GPA), ADJUSTED FOR OTHER FACTORS, CANNOT BE PROVEN TO BE RACE DISCRIMINATORY.

You see, if it's the test that's doing the discriminating, then the AA adjustments are necessary to ensure a fair and equal admissions process.  Hence this thread.

Quote
No one has a right to law school.

Absolutely agreed.  But then, no one has a right to a good job, either.  Yet if discrimination occurred in the work place (any work place), it would be (and should be) a major point of contention.

Quote
Sure the public schools cant discriminate on race but when you realize that the LSAT and GPA arent binding on them either it becomes apparent that they arent discriminating against whites at all, they are discriminating against blacks, latinos, ESL applicants if they were to go by raw scores alone.

You're going to have to unpack this point a bit more.  The LSAT and GPA may not be "binding", but they're there to measure standards.  Hence the standardized test you're forced to write to gain admission. 

I'm not sure what you're getting at with this point, though.  I'll wait to see what you mean.

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Why do people have trouble with this?

Trouble with what?

I have no trouble with your initial statement.  I completely agree that you shouldn't have to convince the mediocre white applicant that AA is fair if they get left out of the process.  But if you don't, then they still have valid reason to female dog and complain -- AA looks like discrimination, and it is discrimination.  The real question is, is it necessary discrimination?  Is it good discrimination?  Is it being done to right a wrong?  And, if so, is it being done correctly, with evidence to support its practice? 

Hence this thread, which is just one attempt at finding a substantive defense of present AA practice.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: obamacon on July 28, 2006, 07:51:23 PM
I don't believe there's any such thing as "reverse-discrimination" either.

Really? Do you mean that it doesn’t exist or that it cannot exist?

Quote
This is true, but here's the problem.  If Stanford chooses ten black kids with 140s and 2.0s and chooses only one white kid with those numbers, then other white kids are going to start crying foul.  And legitimately so. 

Except that people don’t act quite like that in real life. What actually happens is that many more people than are actually affected by affirmative action feel as if it affects them. For example, if Harvard accepted 100 people every year with 5 spots reserved for minorities and it turns out that 95 whites get accepted and 5 blacks get accepted only 5 whites were actually hurt by this policy. The effect, however, is magnified exponentially, because many of the other applicants who wouldn’t have made it in anyway feel that they were denied access because they weren’t black, as long as they know that there are some others who had reserved seats. This is a particular problem with affirmative action in India where Untouchables with reserved university seats are routinely harassed even though they rarely fill the seats in the first place.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: thorc954 on July 28, 2006, 07:56:23 PM
If it wasnt for that damn rejection letter that the ivies use saying "you were a very qualified canidate, but we had to create a diverse class so you must be rejected," people wouldnt be so quick to claim reverse descrimination.  I feel like harvard should be honest and simply state "the fact that you even wasted 70 bucks applying with those numbers proves that you are too damn stupid for our 1L class."  I mean, sometimes schools really do turn down a lot of qualified applicants, but often times they dont. I would like if they would have seperate rejection letters for each and people could stop unjustly complaining they were robbed.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: FossilJ on July 28, 2006, 08:14:24 PM
I don't believe there's any such thing as "reverse-discrimination" either.

Really? Do you mean that it doesn’t exist or that it cannot exist?


No, there is no such thing as "reverse-discrimination".  That's because discrimination is discrimination, period.  It's redundant to add an adjective, even if you glue it on with a hyphen.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: thorc954 on July 28, 2006, 08:24:19 PM
my spelling was horrible in that post, so i wanted to appologize to any english majors i may have offended...
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: H4CS on July 28, 2006, 08:44:19 PM
If it wasnt for that damn rejection letter that the ivies use saying "you were a very qualified canidate, but we had to create a diverse class so you must be rejected," people wouldnt be so quick to claim reverse descrimination.  I feel like harvard should be honest and simply state "the fact that you even wasted 70 bucks applying with those numbers proves that you are too damn stupid for our 1L class."  I mean, sometimes schools really do turn down a lot of qualified applicants, but often times they dont. I would like if they would have seperate rejection letters for each and people could stop unjustly complaining they were robbed.

Nah (to you and Breadboy's point).  Take away AA and these rejects would be blaming the Jews or some other scapegoat.  It might be worth asking how many of these applicants who blame others for their shortcomings had a 4.0 while overloading and a 180.  Er, I mean, it's the Jews that kept you out of Harvard.

The simple fact that some people blame their unfavorable outcomes on a process in no way requires a justification of that process.  I think this is a derail that's picking on the wrong part of the initial post.  I don't think red is actually showing why AA is justified but why AA is necessitated in order to restore some semblance of merit that is masked by stereotype threat.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on July 28, 2006, 08:48:03 PM
I don't think red is actually showing why AA is justified by why AA is necessitated in order to restore some semblance of merit that is masked by stereotype threat.

Bingo.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: thorc954 on July 28, 2006, 08:56:42 PM
I don't think red is actually showing why AA is justified by why AA is necessitated in order to restore some semblance of merit that is masked by stereotype threat.

I thought this was exactly what she was attempting. She wanted to show that the lsat was biased because of stereotype threat and that because it is biased some AA should be used to compensate. Maybe I missed something.

Also, why do you call architect bread boy? kinda confused by this as I am new to LSD
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Infinity on July 28, 2006, 08:59:29 PM
I don't think red is actually showing why AA is justified by why AA is necessitated in order to restore some semblance of merit that is masked by stereotype threat.

I'm assuming that the bolded "by" is supposed to be a "but."  If that is the case, what is the difference between "justified" and "necessitated"?  Although something justified is not necessitated, I would think that something necessitated is justified (justifed seems to imply that something is good to do whereas necessitated seems to imply that something is good to do and should be done).  So I'm kind of confused as to what distinction you're making.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: H4CS on July 28, 2006, 09:03:32 PM
Also, why do you call architect bread boy? kinda confused by this as I am new to LSD

People change their names here all the time.  Sometimes to run away from unseemly associations with earlier posts (Breadboy->The Modest Proposal->The Architect), some because of some weird back-and-forth between multiple posters (John Galt->John Bond/Annabel Lee->Annabel Bond, etc/etc), some because bass is weird (what was with ...?) some because they've deleted most of their posts but can't quite let go (Stan->his new one, Adhemar->Gonzo), some because they're bored (Alec->a billion other things) and so on.  Dunson has made a career out of this.  Hell, my name has been an abbreviation of my old name for months now and people still refer to me by that.


It gets hard to remember who is who on which day, so some of us just go by the name by which we first got to know the poster.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: H4CS on July 28, 2006, 09:05:04 PM
I don't think red is actually showing why AA is justified by why AA is necessitated in order to restore some semblance of merit that is masked by stereotype threat.

I'm assuming that the bolded "by" is supposed to be a "but." 


Yes. Fixed.  As for the rest, I think that's a side-topic as well, but it definitely undermines your claim that there is no need to provide this defense.  You argued that reducing racial stratification was all the justification needed.  That does not answer red's claim.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: bass on July 28, 2006, 11:24:27 PM
Also, why do you call architect bread boy? kinda confused by this as I am new to LSD

People change their names here all the time.  Sometimes to run away from unseemly associations with earlier posts (Breadboy->The Modest Proposal->The Architect), some because of some weird back-and-forth between multiple posters (John Galt->John Bond/Annabel Lee->Annabel Bond, etc/etc), some because bass is weird (what was with ...?) some because they've deleted most of their posts but can't quite let go (Stan->his new one, Adhemar->Gonzo), some because they're bored (Alec->a billion other things) and so on.  Dunson has made a career out of this.  Hell, my name has been an abbreviation of my old name for months now and people still refer to me by that.


It gets hard to remember who is who on which day, so some of us just go by the name by which we first got to know the poster.

It's the jews.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on July 28, 2006, 11:26:34 PM
Also, why do you call architect bread boy? kinda confused by this as I am new to LSD

People change their names here all the time.  Sometimes to run away from unseemly associations with earlier posts (Breadboy->The Modest Proposal->The Architect), some because of some weird back-and-forth between multiple posters (John Galt->John Bond/Annabel Lee->Annabel Bond, etc/etc), some because bass is weird (what was with ...?) some because they've deleted most of their posts but can't quite let go (Stan->his new one, Adhemar->Gonzo), some because they're bored (Alec->a billion other things) and so on.  Dunson has made a career out of this.  Hell, my name has been an abbreviation of my old name for months now and people still refer to me by that.


It gets hard to remember who is who on which day, so some of us just go by the name by which we first got to know the poster.


That's why I keep the practical "J" glued nicely to the side of my name.

And once in a while, when I completely change it up, I'll put my old name in my sig., just so people don't get me confused.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: obamacon on July 29, 2006, 12:15:09 AM
The simple fact that some people blame their unfavorable outcomes on a process in no way requires a justification of that process.

It depends on what you mean by “requires”. For example, every time the price of gas goes up, people blame the oil companies. Congress, especially in an election year, makes as much noise as it can about how horrible they are; how they rake in big profits at the expense of everyone else etc. Does it matter that that isn’t particularly true? No, it doesn’t, but we have, and for the foreseeable future will continue to do the same song and dance to try and justify the unfavorable outcomes of people who do not understand the process.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Towelie on July 29, 2006, 12:55:47 AM
I'm going to put a lot of what I put in the other board and see who hates me for it.

I think AA is a bad policy. The problem, so it seems, is that certain minority groups do worse on the LSAT. Well, why don't we fix that? Why don't we adjust the test to take out any racial bias? Or, conversely, if it is not racial bias but rather a history of poor schooling causing minority groups to do worse, why don't we work on policies to uproot our educational system to level out the advantage?

I think it's dangerous when you lower admission's standards for any group of people because, in my mind, it is basically saying "they can't do better on the test so, instead of helping them do better, we will just accept their lower scores and accept them anyways". I will not and cannot believe that any minority group simply cannot score higher. If you believe this, then you, my friend, are a racist.

The problem is that AA is an easy fix. It's a hell of a lot cheaper and easier to lower admission's standards than it is to completely revamp a test (probably) or, better yet, change our nation's educational system. But I'm not about quick fixes. If there are groups of people who cannot perform to their ability on an important test, I think this problem needs to be addressed at its core.

Lowering admission's standards through AA hurts minorities, too. A Stanford study that was published in the UCLA Law Review (or vice versa), showed that minorities who were at a school that was significantly higher than their qualifications would normally qualify them for ended up doing much worse in the long run than those who got there purely on merit.

Though the sentiment of AA is nice (i.e. making everything all even and squared), lowering admission's standards does nothing to address the problem at hand.

You can disagree with AA and not be a racist. You can disagree with AA and not be bitter. You can disagree with AA and not be a Republican (lord knows I'm not!) There is certainly a valid argument against AA, and I happen to believe it.

Go on, hate on me. I thrive off it.  ;)
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on July 29, 2006, 01:00:35 AM
Towelie, did you even read the original post in this thread?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Towelie on July 29, 2006, 01:05:41 AM
Towelie, did you even read the original post in this thread?



Yeah.. about "stereotype threat". But I'm not sure how much I buy that this is the reason minorities are doing worse on the test. It may be a reason, but, in my opinion, it is not the only reason. However, because of "stereotype threat" I did add the part about changing the dynamics of the test, which, in all honesty, I don't really think is the best answer. However, if it is tried out and proven to work I would be more than glad to see it adopted.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Towelie on July 29, 2006, 01:14:49 AM
Also.. I said my piece, but I will be retiring from the AA board. I know my opinion is unpopular, especially with liberals (I should know, I pretty much am one), but I wanted to get my opinion out there because I think it is important to know that many people who are against AA are not racist, are not ignorant, and have plenty of equally valid reasons behind their anti-AA sentiments.

To all you AA lovers out there: I think you are fighting the good fight, just doing it the wrong way. If you disagree with me, fine. But, please, if your interest in AA is making the situation between minorities and whites equal, at least give other options a fair shot. I desperately want equality.. I just want to go about it a different way.

See you all on the other boards!  8)
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: thorc954 on July 29, 2006, 02:48:12 AM
I hate you towlie, but only cause you are a liberal
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: thorc954 on July 29, 2006, 02:49:40 AM
hey guys, just wanted to thank yall, lsd has been a blast this summer. Im gonna delete my account tomorrow though. too many addictions in life right now with this, myspace, and facebook. must clear things out before law school. anyone have anything they wanna share ever im on lsn with the same name.... just keep it nice :)
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Lily Jaye on July 30, 2006, 10:34:18 AM
What keeps dropping out of this thread is the fact that race is experienced materially, and it is a factor in how SES is actually lived -- specifically, blackness exacerbates poverty and impoverishes the black middle class, according to the standards we hold for the majority.  Even middle-class black kids are likely to be (a) in poor black schools suffering all of the educational disadvantages (which I have listed throughout this board, but not this thread) of their poorer black peers,  (b) subject to unfair or unnecessary discipline, high-stakes testing, and special-education transfers that their white peers do not face, (c) less wealthy than similarly situated (same income level) whites, (d) the first people in their families to earn college degrees or to attempt advanced professional degrees, and (e) adversely affected by negative associations of blackness with poverty, poor education, dangerousness, etc.  They also may feel a particular, racialized discouragement when they see the effects of pervasive racism and classism around them.  For instance, last year I think there were only 9 black 1Ls at Boalt, out of a class of something like 270.  And this is up from the previous years.  The numbers may be equally as bad for poor whites (I'm not sure), but this is not visible in the same way, so I can't imagine t being as dispiriting to poor white applicants and prospective applicants (not that the world they live in isn't plenty dispiriting).

I understand the narrow goal of justifying AA to a middling and bitter white applicant, and I know my flip responses won't do the trick.  I think the real problem, however, is that we are continually misrepresenting race -- on one hand as an isolated variable that only produces material effects in very narrow situations (can't hail a cab, harassed by cops, stereotype threat) and on the other hand as solely an index of SES.  It is both of these things, but much more.  We need to shift our discussion of race relations in general; a more productive conversation about AA will follow.  Call this pie in the sky if you wish, but I don't see any way around it.

I know I'm a wee bit distracted at the moment by the rat running around in my room, but as far as I can tell, B-E explains the gap that occurs once you account for SES.  It's a question of mistaking absolute impact for its relative cousin.

Only A is really pertinent  for what you seem to want to argue-- and that concern is easily remedied by primarily classifying a student's SES on school instead of parental income.  (With the notable exception being public magnets and scholarship recepients at private high schools, in which case you'd have to pay really close attention to both.) 

Lily, so sorry about the rat!  I am terrified of rats.

I don't know why B-E aren't relevant, though.

I phrased that poorly. :-\

I meant to say that B-E can explain the educational performance gap between low-SES white children and comparably low-SES minority children.   However, the fact that the gap between low-SES children of all races and high-SES children of all races is much greater than low-SES whites and blacks suggests that these factors aren't as important as SES.

Quote
At least B and E are directly relevant.  C - the wealth question  - is a fuzzy one, because it is something that is hard to read in income tax submissions and parental jobs and even schools, but it may both psychically and materially affect someone's academic achievement (through having to work, through ineligibility for loans, through not having various safety nets, etc.).  You're right, however, that this may be a situation where blackness is just an index of asset poverty, and not a multiplier.  D - first person in the family to do X - may also be "merely" a question of SES, but I think it also goes to my last point about how psychically damaging it is to have few role models or positive experiences or to have the sense that people like you can achieve certain goals.  (I grew up middle class, but I had a lot of white friends who were very poor.  I am not saying that they didn't have a sense of exclusion from elite society based on their class position.  I do, however, think that this is fundamentally different.)

I agree that it's fundamentally different: after all, whiteness is our society's (usually unstated) norm.  However, I have to wonder how white children define "people like us." IOW, I have to wonder whether white children are looking for differences instead of similarities.  (I don't know; I don't spend much time on child development.)

Quote
Finally, I'm not sure what the resistance is to having AA based on both SES and race, frankly.  It's clear that there is both racial and class-based difference in our society and specifically in terms of academic achievement, test scores, and financial and other preparation to go to professional school.  Why limit yourself to addressing one?

I can't speak for everyone, but I don't think there's a lot of resistance to this.  I've noticed that when I phrase the discussion in these terms -- i.e., AA should be a mix of both to the degree that each causes educational inequities -- most anti-AA proponents will soften their views. 

I was just pointing out that if you frame your argument in a way that appears to only addresses the racial aspect, you're not going to convince many middle-class white kids.  Why?  Because most people don't pay attention to details: they look the broad frame, and then decide if they agree with that frame or not. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 30, 2006, 12:10:41 PM
Hey Lily!  Thanks for the thoughtful response.  I agree for the most part and just have a couple of questions/comments.

I meant to say that B-E can explain the educational performance gap between low-SES white children and comparably low-SES minority children.   However, the fact that the gap between low-SES children of all races and high-SES children of all races is much greater than low-SES whites and blacks suggests that these factors aren't as important as SES.

Is this true? I haven't seen very good studies on this outside of the SAT studies, which bear this out to some extent but which also suggest that race itself is significant.  In the SAT studies, you see about an 80-point gap on both verbal and math scores between same-income black and white testtakers (and I think the gap even is a little higher when you look at parental education level).  I also know that the gap between low-income or low-parental education level African Americans and high-income and high-parental education level African Americans is smaller than the same gap among white testtakers: in relative terms, African-American kids don't get as much of a boost from class mobility as white kids.  Race is a significant variable; so is class.  We should look at both.

I was just pointing out that if you frame your argument in a way that appears to only addresses the racial aspect, you're not going to convince many middle-class white kids.  Why?  Because most people don't pay attention to details: they look the broad frame, and then decide if they agree with that frame or not. 

You are probably right here, but I am also kind of sick of pandering to people who refuse to acknowledge that race remains a fundamental division in our society.  Sorry for my grumps on this one.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SouthSide on July 31, 2006, 02:37:36 AM
I was just pointing out that if you frame your argument in a way that appears to only addresses the racial aspect, you're not going to convince many middle-class white kids.  Why?  Because most people don't pay attention to details: they look the broad frame, and then decide if they agree with that frame or not. 

You are probably right here, but I am also kind of sick of pandering to people who refuse to acknowledge that race remains a fundamental division in our society.  Sorry for my grumps on this one.

I agree that we shouldn't be pandering to people who refuse to acknowledge the reality of racism. However, I think a lot of AA's defenders have done as much harm as good by reducing their defense of the system to mealy-mouthed platitudes about diversity. For me, that is why the studies that reveal the effects of racism (like the stereotype threat) are so important. They lead people to acknowledge that racism is real and has real effects, and that a fair system would try to account for this.

I'm convinced that a lot more members of the white middle class would be willing to accept AA programs, even though they are not benefited by them, if there was a stronger public emphasis on fairness. A lot of the opposition stems from a feeling of unfairness, and some of that feeling is due to the fact that many of AA's defenders have focused on diversity to the exclusion of other arguments.

Unfortunately, there is also a lot of opposition to AA that is grounded in vicious racism of the most elemental variety. This thread has revealed some of those attitudes (I'm thinking primarily of Prestigiouseo's posts), and it's been depressing to read.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Miss P on July 31, 2006, 03:14:27 AM
I was just pointing out that if you frame your argument in a way that appears to only addresses the racial aspect, you're not going to convince many middle-class white kids.  Why?  Because most people don't pay attention to details: they look the broad frame, and then decide if they agree with that frame or not. 

You are probably right here, but I am also kind of sick of pandering to people who refuse to acknowledge that race remains a fundamental division in our society.  Sorry for my grumps on this one.

I agree that we shouldn't be pandering to people who refuse to acknowledge the reality of racism. However, I think a lot of AA's defenders have done as much harm as good by reducing their defense of the system to mealy-mouthed platitudes about diversity. For me, that is why the studies that reveal the effects of racism (like the stereotype threat) are so important. They lead people to acknowledge that racism is real and has real effects, and that a fair system would try to account for this.

I'm convinced that a lot more members of the white middle class would be willing to accept AA programs, even though they are not benefited by them, if there was a stronger public emphasis on fairness. A lot of the opposition stems from a feeling of unfairness, and some of that feeling is due to the fact that many of AA's defenders have focused on diversity to the exclusion of other arguments.

Unfortunately, there is also a lot of opposition to AA that is grounded in vicious racism of the most elemental variety. This thread has revealed some of those attitudes (I'm thinking primarily of Prestigiouseo's posts), and it's been depressing to read.

I'm too tired to be coherent (as if I had a chance anyway), but I just wanted to make a small point: the courts have limited a lot of well-intentioned people to talking about "diversity" instead of the remediation of disadvantage, and I think that's why you see it cropping up so often in these discussions.  I support both a diversity rationale (however mealy-mouthed) and a remediation rationale. But for legal reasons, at public institutions anyway, one has to subsume the remediation into diversity -- diversity as justification for any adjustments one might make in one's admissions practices to account for disadvantage of certain classes of applicants.

I also want to resist the characterization of any goal of diversifying the profession as a being necessarily mealy-mouthed.  Some people are quite specific about why they want to have more black lawyers out there, and how they want to do it.

I like the idea that we can win this on fairness -- and it's obvious to me that we can't have a fair admissions system without race- and class-conscious practices -- but I am discouraged by its prospects as well given the responses to even red.'s discussion of how to remedy a specific bias in this thread.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: SouthSide on July 31, 2006, 03:24:37 AM
I'm too tired to be coherent (as if I had a chance anyway), but I just wanted to make a small point: the courts have limited a lot of well-intentioned people to talking about "diversity" instead of the remediation of disadvantage, and I think that's why you see it cropping up so often in these discussions.  I support both a diversity rationale (however mealy-mouthed) and a remediation rationale. But for legal reasons, at public institutions anyway, one has to subsume the remediation into diversity -- diversity as justification for any adjustments one might make in one's admissions practices to account for disadvantage of certain classes of applicants.

I also want to resist the characterization of any goal of diversifying the profession as a being necessarily mealy-mouthed.  Some people are quite specific about why they want to have more black lawyers out there, and how they want to do it.

I like the idea that we can win this on fairness -- and it's obvious to me that we can't have a fair admissions system without race- and class-conscious practices -- but I am discouraged by its prospects as well given the responses to even red.'s discussion of how to remedy a specific bias in this thread.

Your points are all well taken. I think the diversity argument matters too, but I don't think it can stand alone.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: aerynn on July 31, 2006, 07:50:26 AM
I hate the "fairness" argument.  If people see the boost minority students get in admissions and need pages and pages of explaination on how the boost is justified by how unfair the system is to minority students in terms of educational access, standardized tests, overall SES, etc. etc. I doubt they will be convinced.  If you can look at the discrimination minority students face every day and still not see AA as justified, I don't know what study quantifying the unfairness of the system is going to justify it for that person.  I don't see why we should pander to the "But it isn't faaaaaaair" crowd.  Life in general isn't fair, especially for a minority student living in America.  I don't begrudge the wealthy kids for being supported for a year while spending thousands on test prep and tutors because it games the system for everyone who can't.  That isn't fair either.  Admissions doesn't need to be fair, it needs to produce law students who are an asset in the classroom, capable of passing the bar and being good lawyers.

I like the diversity argument.  I think it shows how AA benefits everyone, not just minorities.  I like how it acknowledges that being different is good, especially in a system that uses the socratic method, instead of trying to jump through hoops to show that we should all be striving to be the same. (Such as by restructuring a test, curving GPAs or LSAT scores to get the numbers to all look alike, etc.) I like how it is a wide umbrella: it justifies placing rich and poor kids in the classroom, white, black, asian, hispanic kids, kids who have interesting work experience, some who are just very very bright but who have no real world experience, etc.  It acknowledges that we should be learning from each other and benefitting from different viewpoints and different goals and exposure to those differences.  It shows why AA has to happen even in the T14.  And it doesn't pretend law school admission is a prize to be given away based on the winning lotto of numbers that claim a seat, but instead it is a means to an end.  It then strives to make that end a class consisting of the best future lawyers possible and that means lawyers who have spent time with people who are very different from themselves.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: SouthSide on July 31, 2006, 10:00:13 AM
I don't begrudge the wealthy kids for being supported for a year while spending thousands on test prep and tutors because it games the system for everyone who can't.

I do.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: aerynn on July 31, 2006, 02:45:09 PM
I don't begrudge the wealthy kids for being supported for a year while spending thousands on test prep and tutors because it games the system for everyone who can't.

I do.

Why?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on July 31, 2006, 03:28:27 PM
I do, as well.  But only when they take it for granted, and then have the temerity to wonder aloud why other kids are so pathetic that they cannot perform comparibly.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: obamacon on July 31, 2006, 05:22:48 PM
Why?

That's one of the benefits of building wealth, you can afford to give your children certain advantages that others cannot. Is it fair that the child born to an alcoholic father who never made 20 grand a year has to work 60 hours a week and prep for the LSAT on his own? No, it isn’t, but as Americans we’ve decided we don’t like the consequences of rebalancing the scales to iron out this particular injustice.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: dbgirl on July 31, 2006, 05:25:54 PM
Why?

That's one of the benefits of building wealth, you can afford to give your children certain advantages that others cannot. Is it fair that the child born to an alcoholic father who never made 20 grand a year has to work 60 hours a week and prep for the LSAT on his own? No, it isn’t, but as Americans we’ve decided we don’t like the consequences of rebalancing the scales to iron out this particular injustice.

You're speaking for yourself and your ultra conservative pals there breadboy.
A lot of Americans disagree with you  :o
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Miss P on July 31, 2006, 05:38:31 PM
Why?

That's one of the benefits of building wealth, you can afford to give your children certain advantages that others cannot. Is it fair that the child born to an alcoholic father who never made 20 grand a year has to work 60 hours a week and prep for the LSAT on his own? No, it isn’t, but as Americans we’ve decided we don’t like the consequences of rebalancing the scales to iron out this particular injustice.

You're speaking for yourself and your ultra conservative pals there breadboy.
A lot of Americans disagree with you  :o

Well, more confusing than all that is that BB chose to respond to Aerynn, who was saying precisely that she doesn't begrudge wealthy kids their privileges.  There's some disconnect.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Miss P on July 31, 2006, 05:53:02 PM
Can someone quote the links I posted in this thread somewhere from p. 1-3? I'd like to delete my posts but I think they might still be useful.

Here you go:

Fascinating thread overall... I believe in the stereotype threat!

One point I found interesting, the very last bit about how African-Americans' blood pressure was higher during some tests. I've often wondered whether blacks' higher rates of high blood pressure and heart disease in the population weren't due to the stress of being black in this society, rather than some kind of genetic predisposition. They oughtta do a study...

I can help you with this one. Like Lily says, many studies have been done. And it can't be genetic because the bulk of African American genes come from West Africans and White Americans (with West Africans being ~60-75% depending on whether you consider Native Americans). Neither West Africans nor White Americans have rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or other illnesses anywhere near those found in African Americans. In fact, I believe West Africans have some of the lowest rates of heart disease and high blood pressure in the world. Studies have strongly supported the idea that environmental factors are the reason African Americans have much poorer health outcomes than white Americans. I don't know how anyone can still think otherwise at this point in time (this is not a jab at you, BonkersJr, but at others who have access to info yet would rather peddle outdated ideas).

Here's an article:

http://www.unl.edu/rhames/courses/110/af_blood/af_blood.html (http://www.unl.edu/rhames/courses/110/af_blood/af_blood.html)

The Puzzle of Hypertension in African-Americans

Genes are often invoked to account for why high blood pressure is so common among African-Americans. Yet the rates are low in Africans. This discrepancy demonstrates how genes and the environment interact.
I have a little time on my hands this morning so here's more on stereotype threat:

1. Here is the 1999 article on Stereotype Threat that appeared in the Atlantic Monthly (I believe it's the one others in the thread have referred to):

Thin ice: "stereotype threat" and black college students.

http://www2.newton.mec.edu/~gary_shiffman/Thin%20Ice (http://www2.newton.mec.edu/~gary_shiffman/Thin%20Ice)

The article can also be accessed on the Atlantic Monthly site but that requires subscription (which you have to pay for, I think).

-----------------

2. Here's a short article in which researcher Claude Steele discusses Stereotype Threat:

Steele Discusses “Stereotype Threat”

http://www.mtholyoke.edu/offices/comm/csj/092404/steele.shtml (http://www.mtholyoke.edu/offices/comm/csj/092404/steele.shtml)

-----------------

Stereotype threat isn't just a black thing. Women face it too and so do other minorities in different contexts.

3. Here's a long article about the effect of stereotype threat on women in the context of solving mathematics problems:

The Interference of Stereotype Threat With Women's Generation of Mathematical Problem-Solving Strategies

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0341/is_1_57/ai_75140961 (http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0341/is_1_57/ai_75140961)
Quote from: Red.
I want, for example, to re-cite the study in which white male undergraduates with nearly perfect scores in the math portion of the SAT  - a group that is unlikely to have an innate inferiority complex - were asked to do a difficult math test. When they were primed to believe that the test was intended to figure out why Asians were better at math, they performed very poorly, and when they were not so primed, they performed very well.

Red, I think this is the study you're referring to:

http://www.drl.tcu.edu/PoB/PoB_Lectures/social_cognition/stereotypes/Stereotype_Threat.pdf#search='When%20white%20men%20can%27t%20do%20math%3A%20Necessary%20and%20sufficient%20factors%20in%20stereotype%20threat.' (http://www.drl.tcu.edu/PoB/PoB_Lectures/social_cognition/stereotypes/Stereotype_Threat.pdf#search='When%20white%20men%20can%27t%20do%20math%3A%20Necessary%20and%20sufficient%20factors%20in%20stereotype%20threat.')

When White Men Can’t Do Math: Necessary and Sufficient Factors in Stereotype Threat

"We induced stereotype threat by invoking a comparison with a minority
group stereotyped to excel at math (Asians). As predicted, these stereotype-threatened
white males performed worse on a difficult math test than a nonstereotype-threatened
control group."

--------------

This is a slightly long read but a very, very fascinating one.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Miss P on July 31, 2006, 05:58:20 PM
Thank you, Miss P! :)

Have to act nice occasionally to throw people off-guard. ;)
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Yoda, Esq. on August 01, 2006, 09:30:20 PM
Why?

That's one of the benefits of building wealth, you can afford to give your children certain advantages that others cannot. Is it fair that the child born to an alcoholic father who never made 20 grand a year has to work 60 hours a week and prep for the LSAT on his own? No, it isn’t, but as Americans we’ve decided we don’t like the consequences of rebalancing the scales to iron out this particular injustice.

I like how this post makes it sounds like there was some sort of universal decision in the U.S.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on August 01, 2006, 09:43:51 PM
Every post by The Architect (nee Breadboy) borders on the farcical and is laced with lunacy.  If anyone is still taking him seriously, they only have themselves to blame.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: obamacon on August 01, 2006, 09:48:30 PM
Every post by The Architect (nee Breadboy) borders on the farcical and is laced with lunacy.  If anyone is still taking him seriously, they only have themselves to blame.


Did someone get a shiny new thesaurus?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on August 01, 2006, 09:53:05 PM
Every post by The Architect (nee Breadboy) borders on the farcical and is laced with lunacy.  If anyone is still taking him seriously, they only have themselves to blame.


Did someone get a shiny new thesaurus?

Another case in point.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: dbgirl on August 01, 2006, 10:32:42 PM
Every post by The Architect (nee Breadboy) borders on the farcical and is laced with lunacy.  If anyone is still taking him seriously, they only have themselves to blame.


I don't know ... every once in a while he sounds serious. I can't decide if he really is an obnoxious jerk or an emotionally disturbed guy who gets off on pretending to be an obnoxious jerk  :-\
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Yoda, Esq. on August 01, 2006, 10:36:58 PM
Every post by The Architect (nee Breadboy) borders on the farcical and is laced with lunacy.  If anyone is still taking him seriously, they only have themselves to blame.


I don't know ... every once in a while he sounds serious. I can't decide if he really is an obnoxious jerk or an emotionally disturbed guy who gets off on pretending to be an obnoxious jerk  :-\


I don't know why you people insist it has to be one or the other. Can't the man be an obnoxious jerk who gets off on being an obnoxious jerk? Why must you try to limit him, hm?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on August 01, 2006, 10:39:43 PM
Every post by The Architect (nee Breadboy) borders on the farcical and is laced with lunacy.  If anyone is still taking him seriously, they only have themselves to blame.


I don't know ... every once in a while he sounds serious. I can't decide if he really is an obnoxious jerk or an emotionally disturbed guy who gets off on pretending to be an obnoxious jerk  :-\


All lunatics believe they're serious.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: obamacon on August 01, 2006, 10:49:54 PM
All lunatics believe they're serious.

One of your more glaring weaknesses is your habit of conflating disagreement and stupidity.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on August 01, 2006, 11:22:20 PM
All lunatics believe they're serious.

One of your more glaring weaknesses is your habit of conflating disagreement and stupidity.


No.  Disagreement is reasonable.  Stupidity isn't.  You've firmly established yourself in the latter category.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: obamacon on August 01, 2006, 11:37:48 PM
No.  Disagreement is reasonable.  Stupidity isn't.  You've firmly established yourself in the latter category.

It's almost unbelievable that you think so. Perhaps these serious threads aren’t for you, you'd certainly have more fun in the OPC.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on August 01, 2006, 11:59:04 PM
You see, I'd be a lunatic if I started arguing with you here and thought that the result would be different from the norm, which is you dancing around the point, sprinkling in your one-eyed half-baked "truths" ad nauseum.

That's the definition of insanity.  Repeating an action when everything remains constant and expecting different results.

Therefore, this is the end of our conversation.  I don't really need to make the point, anyway.  It's clear to any and all people on this board already.
 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Miss P on August 02, 2006, 12:41:11 AM
No.  Disagreement is reasonable.  Stupidity isn't.  You've firmly established yourself in the latter category.

It's almost unbelievable that you think so. Perhaps these serious threads aren’t for you, you'd certainly have more fun in the OPC.


I don't think you're stupid.  I think you're quite strange, and it's hard for me to imagine your having a decent social live (girlfriend, you say?), but you're not stupid.  I do disagree with you about most things, and I find your habit of making provacative remarks and then refusing to answer questions or debate a little annoying.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
Post by: Lily Jaye on August 02, 2006, 09:43:04 AM
Hey Lily!  Thanks for the thoughtful response.  I agree for the most part and just have a couple of questions/comments.

I meant to say that B-E can explain the educational performance gap between low-SES white children and comparably low-SES minority children.   However, the fact that the gap between low-SES children of all races and high-SES children of all races is much greater than low-SES whites and blacks suggests that these factors aren't as important as SES.

Is this true? I haven't seen very good studies on this outside of the SAT studies, which bear this out to some extent but which also suggest that race itself is significant.  In the SAT studies, you see about an 80-point gap on both verbal and math scores between same-income black and white testtakers (and I think the gap even is a little higher when you look at parental education level).  I also know that the gap between low-income or low-parental education level African Americans and high-income and high-parental education level African Americans is smaller than the same gap among white testtakers: in relative terms, African-American kids don't get as much of a boost from class mobility as white kids.  Race is a significant variable; so is class.  We should look at both.

1. It's been a while, and since I don't have access to JSTOR again until September, so I'm going strictly on memory.  Which, since I'm still waking up, is a wee bit shaky.

I think I'm saying the same thing that you are -- blacks get less of a social boost from social mobility, but it's still a boost.  I'm focusing on the second clause; you're focusing on the first.

2. That said, I remember that my problem with the SAT studies is that they assume that equivalent income equals equivalent school districts -- not to mention equivalent schools within school districts.  That's not the case, especially once you start dealing with magnets.  It's a helpful barometer -- and the only type that can be done on a large scale, given the localized nature of our nation's schools -- but you see different patterns if you compare adjacent school systems with comparable income levels but different property tax rates.  (Of course, depending on the size of the school district, then it can be difficult to get a statistically significant sample.)

2. There's also a difference between net worth and income.  If a kid's parents are in certain types of business partnerships, it can look like they have an income of 50,000 a year -- even if their parents' business is worth 3-5 million, and their personal net assets are in the 1 million vicinity.  (And yes, it can look this way without embezzlement.)   I'm not sure how many people this would affect or if it would be statistically significant at the national level, though.  My hunch is that it wouldn't matter nationally; however, it would explain trends in certain districts.

3. I agree that we should look at both.  I think, however, that it's time for researchers to start asking more specific questions. 

Quote
I was just pointing out that if you frame your argument in a way that appears to only addresses the racial aspect, you're not going to convince many middle-class white kids.  Why?  Because most people don't pay attention to details: they look the broad frame, and then decide if they agree with that frame or not. 

You are probably right here, but I am also kind of sick of pandering to people who refuse to acknowledge that race remains a fundamental division in our society.  Sorry for my grumps on this one.

Fair enough. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: obamacon on August 02, 2006, 11:34:12 AM
No.  Disagreement is reasonable.  Stupidity isn't.  You've firmly established yourself in the latter category.

It's almost unbelievable that you think so. Perhaps these serious threads aren’t for you, you'd certainly have more fun in the OPC.


I don't think you're stupid.  I think you're quite strange, and it's hard for me to imagine your having a decent social live (girlfriend, you say?), but you're not stupid.  I do disagree with you about most things, and I find your habit of making provacative remarks and then refusing to answer questions or debate a little annoying.

Now that is a reasonable position. It isn't correct, but it is reasonable, and once more I have to applaud you for your ability to understand those with whom you disagree. It’s a shame that particular talent doesn’t extend to the rest of the LSD intelligentsia.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: dbgirl on August 02, 2006, 01:25:37 PM
No.  Disagreement is reasonable.  Stupidity isn't.  You've firmly established yourself in the latter category.

It's almost unbelievable that you think so. Perhaps these serious threads aren’t for you, you'd certainly have more fun in the OPC.


I don't think you're stupid.  I think you're quite strange, and it's hard for me to imagine your having a decent social live (girlfriend, you say?), but you're not stupid.  I do disagree with you about most things, and I find your habit of making provacative remarks and then refusing to answer questions or debate a little annoying.

Now that is a reasonable position. It isn't correct, but it is reasonable, and once more I have to applaud you for your ability to understand those with whom you disagree. It’s a shame that particular talent doesn’t extend to the rest of the LSD intelligentsia.

Miss P is way too patient and likes to give people the benefit of the doubt.

I think you're lame. :P
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: obamacon on August 02, 2006, 01:35:29 PM
I think you're lame. :P

That's not what you said back in Memphis.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: JES on August 02, 2006, 01:56:47 PM
I call BS on this entire theory.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Yoda, Esq. on August 02, 2006, 02:02:35 PM
I think you're lame. :P

That's not what you said back in Memphis.

I sense a story!
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: obamacon on August 02, 2006, 02:12:59 PM
I sense a story!

I'm sure dbgirl will be thrilled to tell it.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: dbgirl on August 02, 2006, 02:23:21 PM
I think you're lame. :P

That's not what you said back in Memphis.

 :D
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Yoda, Esq. on August 02, 2006, 03:07:13 PM
I sense a story!

I'm sure dbgirl will be thrilled to tell it.

Start the recitation after the first bar. There's always a first bar, and the fun stuff always happens after it.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on August 08, 2006, 09:45:37 PM
red., come back!
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: SCgrad on August 09, 2006, 09:36:47 AM
No.  Disagreement is reasonable.  Stupidity isn't.  You've firmly established yourself in the latter category.

It's almost unbelievable that you think so. Perhaps these serious threads aren’t for you, you'd certainly have more fun in the OPC.


I don't think you're stupid.  I think you're quite strange, and it's hard for me to imagine your having a decent social live (girlfriend, you say?), but you're not stupid.  I do disagree with you about most things, and I find your habit of making provacative remarks and then refusing to answer questions or debate a little annoying.

Now that is a reasonable position. It isn't correct, but it is reasonable, and once more I have to applaud you for your ability to understand those with whom you disagree. It’s a shame that particular talent doesn’t extend to the rest of the LSD intelligentsia.



yourself excluded, right?  ::)
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: !! on August 12, 2006, 10:30:48 AM
Re: the First Point


1.1. There is a psychological phenomenon known as ‘Stereotype Threat’

Steele and Aronson (“Contending with Group Image: The Psychology of Stereotype and Social Identity Threat,” by Claude M. Steele, Steven J. Spencer, and Joshua Aronson, Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 2002.) & very many later studies have found that stereotype threat affects performance.

In their initial study, after adjusting for initial differences in SAT scores, black students at Stanford University who took a challenging verbal test answered approximately 10 percent fewer questions correctly than whites did—but only if they believed that the test was a measure of their ability. If they were told that the test measured “psychological factors involved in solving verbal problems,” the black-white test score difference was eliminated.

These studies have been replicated many times, and are undiputed, both in terms of their results and in terms of their methodology.


So... there is no problem with the LSAT then, right?  The problem lies in people's perceptions of it you say?  Fabulous.  I've been saying that for years.  We can stop bitching about it then.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: PIP on August 12, 2006, 03:50:01 PM
I am going to try, perhaps very naively, to propose a sensible discussion about Affirmative Action.

I am going to post a series of facts  that I believe are: persuasive; that may be interesting for all of us to think about; and that may re-orient the way in which we think about affirmative action on this Board.

The order in which I will post will in the end constitute a narrative, and it is probably better that I outline that storyline here. It goes something like this:

---

1. There is a phenomenon known as ‘stereotype threat’. It exists, it is real, and its performance effects are -  for motivated, able and accomplished URMs - substantial .

2. The LSAT is a test in which ‘stereotype threat’ flourishes

3. Holding UGPA + UG institution +  academic department + Major + socioeconomic status all constant,  African Americans receive on average 6 scaled points lower on the LSAT  than white; Latino/as about 4 points lower, and Native Americans about 2 points lower.

4. For high-GPA URM applicants to the top schools, this gap in average LSAT scores may be largely explained by the presence of stereotype threat.

5a. Law Schools have known of this gap, and of its causes, for at least 25 years

5b. That they continue to rely on a test that penalizes groups taking it under a stereotype threat, and that they rely on it so heavily, despite its weakness in predicting law school performance (i.e. a test that discriminates between URMs and the majority, and that is of dubious utility) is .... puzzling

5c.  Using a test known to discriminate against URMs is not, in practice, all that different from an intent to dicriminate; and a system in which the biased results are forseeable is not all that different from a system in which the biased results are intended.

6.  Race-based Affirmative Action can and should -- in principle -- be fully justified on the basis of this present-day systematic bias against accomplished URMs applying to law schools.

7. When combined with the diversity rationale, and with the need to counteract the demonstrable evidence of implicit bias even in the case of two candidates with exactly the same credentials, the case for Affirmative Action becomes overwhelming.

8. Affirmative Action is not a remedy for the supposed under-qualified academic standing of URMs. It is a corrective, instead, for the strong implicit societal bias against well-qualified, well-motivated URMs.
------------

I shall now try to post something that demonstrates the first point in my narrative, and will, I hope, generate some discussion. Please contribute any thoughts that you may have.  Constructive, thoughtful and intellectually honest criticism is particularly welcome. 

Before moving on to point 2, I shall attempt to summarize the agreements and points of disagreement on the first point.

I should state explicitly that I myself am open to persuasion by stronger counterevidence or counternarratives.

This is an experiment -- if it fails, so be it.

You really are a CCD!
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: boco0302 on August 29, 2006, 12:01:51 AM
Ok, my biggest problem w/ stereotype threat is it seems many people in many situations could claim they sucked on the LSAT due to similar stress. For instance, what about the individual who's parents have achieved extremely high levels of success in law/Ph.D's etc.?  Not only this, but this individual also knows many friends who work just as hard and him and overachieve.  Would this individual not feel a similar stress from his family and friends of "if I do badly they'll think I'm stupid/ I need to prove myself so I'll try really hard".  This type of feeling is essentially sterotype threat is it not? This is but one example, I'm sure I could come up with many more. 

My claim is not that this feeling has no effect performance, but I claim this feeling will effect performance on such a various group of people it seems impossible to give it to one group preferencially.  Really, pretty much everyone in the world could come up with a reason why they felt a similar "threat".   

I think there are many more practical and less hypothetical reasons why AA is justified.

   
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: streetclean on September 04, 2006, 09:59:49 PM
Ok, my biggest problem w/ stereotype threat is it seems many people in many situations could claim they sucked on the LSAT due to similar stress. For instance, what about the individual who's parents have achieved extremely high levels of success in law/Ph.D's etc.?  Not only this, but this individual also knows many friends who work just as hard and him and overachieve.  Would this individual not feel a similar stress from his family and friends of "if I do badly they'll think I'm stupid/ I need to prove myself so I'll try really hard".  This type of feeling is essentially sterotype threat is it not?

No, it's not.  Your examples do not include people who belong to a group with certain stereotypes that would affect their performance.

My claim is not that this feeling has no effect performance, but I claim this feeling will effect performance on such a various group of people it seems impossible to give it to one group preferencially.  Really, pretty much everyone in the world could come up with a reason why they felt a similar "threat".   

I think there are many more practical and less hypothetical reasons why AA is justified.

What the hell are you trying to do by pitting the practical against the hypothetical?  They’re not antithetical.  That’s just silly.

Impossible?  I don't think you mean that.  Maybe "not fair", "arbitrary" or "just as bad"?  Regardless, I have to disagree.  Surely someone who's truly concerned with the practical would see that even if some group is going to get an advantage, it should be the one that will benefit most.  If we can’t stop the system from giving a group an advantage but only change the groups, then shouldn’t we give the advantage to the group taking the test that is currently most disadvantaged in law school and beyond?  I mean, practically speaking?

Mind you, this isn’t the way I approach the problem.  I’m just trying to make sense of your reasoning.

I'm sure this doesn't come off as nice but, for what it's worth, I'm not trying to be mean.  :)

OWNED.  by THOU.  thread over.

ownage my hairy nut sack. some fag posting leftist drivel doesnt mean he won the argument.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Miss P on September 04, 2006, 11:02:38 PM
some fag posting leftist drivel doesnt mean he won the argument.

I disagree, you capitalist swine.

Yes, usually when a pinko fag says something around here, it's worth the read.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Miss P on September 04, 2006, 11:20:26 PM
some fag posting leftist drivel doesnt mean he won the argument.

I disagree, you capitalist swine.

Yes, usually when a pinko fag says something around here, it's worth the read.

That's all well and good but what about me?

You're worth reading, too, especially as long as you keep that handsome lad in your 'tar.  Coochie coochie coo!
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Miss P on September 04, 2006, 11:38:02 PM
Yes, usually when a pinko fag says something around here, it's worth the read.

Does this mean we're talking again?  I told you, I'm sorry about blowing you off in that bar, I honestly thought you were HD, and she's getting kind of creepy.

Everyone, you should know that Spaulding's lying.  I have never been blown off in any bar, even in southern New England.  Also, I am approximately 71 inches shorter than HD, and no one could ever confuse us.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Miss P on September 04, 2006, 11:42:30 PM
Everyone, you should know that Spaulding's lying.  I have never been blown off in any bar, even in southern New England.  Also, I am approximately 71 inches shorter than HD, and no one could ever confuse us.

and twice as attractive, but unavailable it seems.  I was looking something up earlier and found some of our earlier interactions, where you were being deferential to red, which seems weird now.

Hey, hey this is not the dirty-laundry-airing thread!

EDIT: And does this research mean you actually thought that I might be that other character?  It seems... unfathomable to me that someone of your discernment would take pains to investigate.  He's really much smarter than me, but I have ethics on my side, or something.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Miss P on September 04, 2006, 11:52:01 PM
Hey, hey this is not the dirty-laundry-airing thread!

Caught red fradualently-handed.

I'll be handed by your majestic mitts any day, sir.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Miss P on September 05, 2006, 12:11:50 AM
alcohol kills germs.  i'm just saying, vodka would be good for your health.

Moved on from the rum, eh?  Soon enough you'll be drinking the golden nectar known as whiskey, mark my words.

And what's the deal, we delete all of this after we've finished entertaining ourselves, or we sully Red.'s (RIP! or...  Viva!) thread with this nonsense?  Chronic purgers are ineligible to respond to this question.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on September 06, 2006, 04:36:50 AM
Yes, usually when a pinko fag says something around here, it's worth the read.

Does this mean we're talking again?  I told you, I'm sorry about blowing you off in that bar, I honestly thought you were HD, and she's getting kind of creepy.

Everyone, you should know that Spaulding's lying.  I have never been blown off in any bar, even in southern New England.  Also, I am approximately 71 inches shorter than HD, and no one could ever confuse us.

Holy *&^%.  That makes you, like... 6 feet tall!
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: jorge on September 12, 2006, 05:34:01 AM
When I saw that "some fag" had posted "leftist drivel," I had no idea that it was Thou.  :o
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: jorge on September 12, 2006, 11:47:45 AM
Indeed.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Miss P on September 12, 2006, 04:37:35 PM
I also thought it was funny.  Anyway, if you find any fags around here who do post leftist drivel, let me know.  I'm still looking for a buddy.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: jorge on September 13, 2006, 12:25:48 AM
The much feared leftist drip is transmitted especially well via homosex.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: boco0302 on September 18, 2006, 06:47:08 PM
Hmmm, my post was responded to...OK...I guess I think I need to say something...

I mentioned that the feeling of having to prove oneself was essentially sterotype threat...this was responded to with:


"No, it's not.  Your examples do not include people who belong to a group with certain stereotypes that would affect their performance."

But I say my examples include people who would feel the exact way minorities would feel under stereotype threat.  According to the passage all stereotype threat really amounts to is trying too hard because people will think you are stupid if you fail.  How does this apply to minorities any differently than my previously  mentioned examples?  In my opinion, they are sufficiently similar to justify comparison.     

My point about the use of practicality in the argument behind AA stems from the idea that less people would be opposed to practical ideas than they would be to scholastically derived hypotheses.  Of course I have no proof of this claim.     
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: boco0302 on September 19, 2006, 11:03:26 AM
"The reasoning in forming and the justification for using practical ideas are almost undoubtedly scholastically derived hypotheses."


First of all, I'm surprised that one a very general statement I made would be the point of confrontation...but I can think of many examples of forming and justifying practical ideas that have not come from scholastically derived hypothesis.  As one example: fire.  Also, I'm not personally saying the two are "antithetical" (a wonderful word of the day) for myself, but they may be to other supporters and naysayers of affirmitive action.   
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Einstein on December 07, 2006, 08:21:11 AM
Stereotype threat – the threat, perceived by persons who are the target of stereotypes, that they will be evaluated in terms of these stereotypes (Steele, 1997).


So I am an engineer. And engineers are known for not having the best reading comprehension skills... which is practically the entire LSAT. 

I could be classified under the stereotype threat then.  Going into the exam I am thinking, "oh no you are an engineer and engineers do not do well on this exam because they think differently."

So therefore, I am a victim of stereotype threat as mentioned by the OP. 

This should give me at least a few extra points on the LSAT due to the obvious bias of the LSAT against engineers.   

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: annab on December 07, 2006, 08:43:00 AM
Stereotype threat – the threat, perceived by persons who are the target of stereotypes, that they will be evaluated in terms of these stereotypes (Steele, 1997).


So I am an engineer. And engineers are known for not having the best reading comprehension skills... which is practically the entire LSAT. 

I could be classified under the stereotype threat then.  Going into the exam I am thinking, "oh no you are an engineer and engineers do not do well on this exam because they think differently."

So therefore, I am a victim of stereotype threat as mentioned by the OP. 

This should give me at least a few extra points on the LSAT due to the obvious bias of the LSAT against engineers.   



It must suck that you're an engineer because you were born to engineer parents, and had no say in the matter.  ::)

But to be fair, the negative stereotypes about engineers are far more pervasive in our society than negative stereotypes about African-Americans and Hispanics.  :)
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on December 07, 2006, 02:09:57 PM
Besides, I don't see how engineers would have any qualms about writing what essentially amounts to a logic test.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Big Bossman on December 08, 2006, 06:25:04 AM
There are quite a few studies that demonstrate that blacks - on average - are less intelligent than other racial groups.  If you want to continue the backwards ways of Affirmative Action, that's fine... but what you're going to end up with is an overall less intelligent incoming class than what would be possible if accepting only the strongest candidates.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: annab on December 08, 2006, 07:39:16 AM
There are studies that demonstrate that secondhand smoking - on average - is actually beneficial to your health.  If you want to continue the backwards anti-smoking campaigns, that's fine... but what you're going to end up with is an overall less healthy population than what would be possible if allowing smoking in all public areas.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Alamo on December 08, 2006, 10:05:25 AM
There are quite a few studies that demonstrate that blacks - on average - are less intelligent than other racial groups.  If you want to continue the backwards ways of Affirmative Action, that's fine... but what you're going to end up with is an overall less intelligent incoming class than what would be possible if accepting only the strongest candidates.

go back to xoxo shithead

hth
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Einstein on December 08, 2006, 11:16:17 AM
Stereotype threat – the threat, perceived by persons who are the target of stereotypes, that they will be evaluated in terms of these stereotypes (Steele, 1997).


So I am an engineer. And engineers are known for not having the best reading comprehension skills... which is practically the entire LSAT. 

I could be classified under the stereotype threat then.  Going into the exam I am thinking, "oh no you are an engineer and engineers do not do well on this exam because they think differently."

So therefore, I am a victim of stereotype threat as mentioned by the OP. 

This should give me at least a few extra points on the LSAT due to the obvious bias of the LSAT against engineers.   

1.  Find me some statistical evidence supporting this claim.  We have evidence that the scores of equally intelligent and educated test-takers vary by race.  Lacking that bias against engineers, we don't even get to stereotype threat in your absurd little "refutation" (and IIRC, engineers are one of the highest-performing "groups" (sorted by major) to take the LSAT).

2.  See, Anna's comment above.

Yes it is true that engineers are one of the professions that score higher on the LSAT.  They do not score the highest, but they are in the top 12.  Look here for proof

http://www.uic.edu/cba/cba-depts/economics/undergrad/table.htm

The reason for this is apparent.  Engineering attracts people with above average IQs, I think the average IQ for a scientist, which essentially is an engineer, is in the 130-140 range.  That is really high considering 100 is the average IQ of the population.

Now, if you have the same concentration of people regarding IQ scores.  I guarantee you that someone that is a philosophy major as opposed to an engineer, will perform better on the reading intensive LSAT. 

But since the concentration of intelligence in other majors is not as high as it is in engineering, then the average score of these other majors on the LSAT will sometimes be lower.

Plus I think the average score for an engineer is a 153.  And philosophy/clergy types score in the 156-157 range on average. 

So my argument is that I score lower on the LSAT than my intellectually equivalent counterparts in other majors, due to my engineering background.  Growing up, my father would watch me play with calculators for hours... and one day he said "son you should be an engineer".  So here I am, it was a choice on my part, but it was the major that most fit my way of thinking.  And knowing that engineers have a hard time with reading comprehension, I therefore, score lower on the LSAT due to it's biased toward engineers. 

Engineers are proven to score lower on the reading comprehension or verbal parts of any standardized exam.  Look it up if you don't believe me. 


The first number is the average LSAT score for that major and the second number is how many people where averaged from that major.

1 Physics/ Math 157.6 689 1
2 Philosophy/ Religion 156.0 1,884
3 Economics 155.3 2,916
4 International Relations 155.1 1,546
5 Chemistry 154.5 893 7
6 Government/ Service 154.4 812   
7 Anthropology/ Geography 154.1 898
           
8 History 154.0 5,819
9 English 153.7 6,324
10 Biology 153.6 1,858
11 Other Social Science 153.2 2,609
12 Engineering 152.7 2,656
13 Foreign Languages 152.5 2,002
14 Finance 152.2 2,009
           
15 Computer Science 152.2 468
16 Psychology 151.9 3,977
17 Accounting 151.8 2,340
18 Political Science 151.6 15,388
19 Communication/ Arts 150.7 3,898
20 Marketing/ Real Estate 150.0 1,826
21 Liberal Arts 149.8 1,148     
           
22 Management 149.4 2,735     
23 Sociology/Social work 149.3 3,129
24 Bus. Administration 148.6 2,111
25 Health Profession 148.6 984
26 Education 148.2 823
27 No major given 147.6 5,289
28 Prelaw 147.3 1,076
29 Criminology 145.8 3,960
         
 Weighted mean 151.6 82,067   151.9 75,620
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on December 08, 2006, 12:01:44 PM

The reason for this is apparent.  Engineering attracts people with above average IQs, I think the average IQ for a scientist, which essentially is an engineer, is in the 130-140 range.  That is really high considering 100 is the average IQ of the population.



This particular "fact" is hilarious.


Buddy, the line for "genius" (top 2% of the population) lies around 140.  I'm telling you right now that the average scientist (and especially the average engineer) is not a genius.


This may be true for the average engineer in academia.  Even there I'd be highly suspicious.  Now stop being a fucktard and leave this thread alone.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Big Bossman on December 08, 2006, 12:37:01 PM
Ha ha ha.

Someone has an inferiority complex. Keep it up, big boy. Someday you'll feel better about yourself.

(FYI - those studies, they're pretty much ridiculous. I hope that you, as a potential law student and attorney, could figure out why that is)

Stop apologizing for the weaker race.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Einstein on December 08, 2006, 12:41:35 PM

The reason for this is apparent.  Engineering attracts people with above average IQs, I think the average IQ for a scientist, which essentially is an engineer, is in the 130-140 range.  That is really high considering 100 is the average IQ of the population.



This particular "fact" is hilarious.


Buddy, the line for "genius" (top 2% of the population) lies around 140.  I'm telling you right now that the average scientist (and especially the average engineer) is not a genius.


This may be true for the average engineer in academia.  Even there I'd be highly suspicious.  Now stop being a fucktard and leave this thread alone.


Well I got that statistic from some show a long time ago on TV.  It was a game show where they pitted the different professions against each other.  The highest IQ average were the scientists and they claimed the average was between 130-140 I don't remember the exact statistic but I remember it was lower than what I tested at in the third grade at a 145.

So the average probably was on the low end of what I was stating.  Probably in the 130s.  
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Big Bossman on December 08, 2006, 12:43:43 PM
There are studies that demonstrate that secondhand smoking - on average - is actually beneficial to your health.  If you want to continue the backwards anti-smoking campaigns, that's fine... but what you're going to end up with is an overall less healthy population than what would be possible if allowing smoking in all public areas.

Face it... the black brain has developed differently (and less effectively) than those of other races.  Few argue that blacks generally demonstrate greater athletic prowess than whites due to variations in physical development; on the other hand, whites have developed superior mental capabilities.  There are exceptions to the rule... but in a general sense, it's quite correct, as racist as it might sound to all of you maggots.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: redemption on December 08, 2006, 12:49:40 PM
If anyone answers this fool in my thread, they'll answer to me.

Thanks.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on December 08, 2006, 12:51:34 PM

The reason for this is apparent.  Engineering attracts people with above average IQs, I think the average IQ for a scientist, which essentially is an engineer, is in the 130-140 range.  That is really high considering 100 is the average IQ of the population.



This particular "fact" is hilarious.


Buddy, the line for "genius" (top 2% of the population) lies around 140.  I'm telling you right now that the average scientist (and especially the average engineer) is not a genius.


This may be true for the average engineer in academia.  Even there I'd be highly suspicious.  Now stop being a fucktard and leave this thread alone.


Well I got that statistic from some show a long time ago on TV.  It was a game show where they pitted the different professions against each other.  The highest IQ average were the scientists and they claimed the average was between 130-140 I don't remember the exact statistic but I remember it was lower than what I tested at in the third grade at a 145.

So the average probably was on the low end of what I was stating.  Probably in the 130s. 


Not even.  It's time for you to start figuring out what's bull and what isn't.

Clearly, these are credible sources describing the entire population under scrutiny.   ::)
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on December 08, 2006, 12:52:15 PM
If anyone answers this fool in my thread, they'll answer to me.

Thanks.



 :D :D :D


And what questions will you be posing?

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: redemption on December 08, 2006, 12:56:49 PM
Wait, you're here? Hi!

 :-*

And what questions will you be posing?

Questions like, Can Melanie and I post in the OPC all day? Like that.  8)

Indulge the troll elsewhere. There are plenty of threads for that. He lives on your oxygen.

okay.. ciao
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on December 08, 2006, 12:58:10 PM
Wait, you're here? Hi!

 :-*

And what questions will you be posing?

Questions like, Can Melanie and I post in the OPC all day? Like that.  8)

Indulge the troll elsewhere. There are plenty of threads for that. He lives on your oxygen.

okay.. ciao


Trust me, I have paid no heed to the troll.


Also, no, you can't post there all day.   :D
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Einstein on December 08, 2006, 01:01:53 PM

The reason for this is apparent.  Engineering attracts people with above average IQs, I think the average IQ for a scientist, which essentially is an engineer, is in the 130-140 range.  That is really high considering 100 is the average IQ of the population.



This particular "fact" is hilarious.


Buddy, the line for "genius" (top 2% of the population) lies around 140.  I'm telling you right now that the average scientist (and especially the average engineer) is not a genius.


This may be true for the average engineer in academia.  Even there I'd be highly suspicious.  Now stop being a fucktard and leave this thread alone.


Well I got that statistic from some show a long time ago on TV.  It was a game show where they pitted the different professions against each other.  The highest IQ average were the scientists and they claimed the average was between 130-140 I don't remember the exact statistic but I remember it was lower than what I tested at in the third grade at a 145.

So the average probably was on the low end of what I was stating.  Probably in the 130s. 


Not even.  It's time for you to start figuring out what's bull and what isn't.

Clearly, these are credible sources describing the entire population under scrutiny.   ::)


Dude, you are missing my point entirely.  I trying to show that engineering attacts people that have higher intelligence than the average person would have.  Now, if you graduate engineering then you are way more intelligent than the average person.  I know many many many people that dropped out of the major.  They would then transfer to business or history majors.

Of course one could argue that engineering just takes a different type of thinking, and then you start getting into the def. of intelligence.  

Plus, how are you sooo sure that engineers dont have an average IQ of 130?  I am a 145 and I didn't have the highest GPA in my class...
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Einstein on December 08, 2006, 01:03:27 PM
Ok here is your proof..

http://iq-test.learninginfo.org/iq04.htm

Descriptive Classifications of Intelligence Quotients
 
IQ Description % of Population
130+ Very superior 2.2%
120-129 Superior 6.7%
110-119 High average 16.1%
90-109 Average 50%
80-89 Low average 16.1%
70-79 Borderline 6.7%
Below 70 Extremely low 2.2%

Apparently, the IQ gives a good indication of the occupational group that a person will end up in, though not of course the specific occupation. In their book, Know Your Child’s IQ, Glen Wilson and Diana Grylls outline occupations typical of various IQ levels:

140 Top Civil Servants; Professors and Research Scientists.
130 Physicians and Surgeons; Lawyers; Engineers (Civil and Mechanical)
120 School Teachers; Pharmacists; Accountants; Nurses; Stenographers; Managers.
110 Foremen; Clerks; Telephone Operators; Salesmen; Policemen; Electricians.
100+ Machine Operators; Shopkeepers; Butchers; Welders; Sheet Metal Workers.
100- Warehousemen; Carpenters; Cooks and Bakers; Small Farmers; Truck and Van Drivers.
90 Laborers; Gardeners; Upholsterers; Farmhands; Miners; Factory Packers and Sorters.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on December 08, 2006, 01:04:28 PM

The reason for this is apparent.  Engineering attracts people with above average IQs, I think the average IQ for a scientist, which essentially is an engineer, is in the 130-140 range.  That is really high considering 100 is the average IQ of the population.



This particular "fact" is hilarious.


Buddy, the line for "genius" (top 2% of the population) lies around 140.  I'm telling you right now that the average scientist (and especially the average engineer) is not a genius.


This may be true for the average engineer in academia.  Even there I'd be highly suspicious.  Now stop being a fucktard and leave this thread alone.


Well I got that statistic from some show a long time ago on TV.  It was a game show where they pitted the different professions against each other.  The highest IQ average were the scientists and they claimed the average was between 130-140 I don't remember the exact statistic but I remember it was lower than what I tested at in the third grade at a 145.

So the average probably was on the low end of what I was stating.  Probably in the 130s. 


Not even.  It's time for you to start figuring out what's bull and what isn't.

Clearly, these are credible sources describing the entire population under scrutiny.   ::)


Dude, you are missing my point entirely.  I trying to show that engineering attacts people that have higher intelligence than the average person would have.  Now, if you graduate engineering then you are way more intelligent than the average person.  I know many many many people that dropped out of the major.  They would then transfer to business or history majors.

I am, in fact, not missing your point.

I am telling you your point is utter and absolute horseshit.  Now stop being a fucktard.

Of course one could argue that engineering just takes a different type of thinking, and then you start getting into the def. of intelligence. 

Wow, you'd need to do that to have a debate about who's smarter than whom?  Who woulda thunk it?

Plus, how are you sooo sure that engineers dont have an average IQ of 130?  I am a 145 and I didn't have the highest GPA in my class...

This is why you're failing the LSAT, idiot.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on December 08, 2006, 01:06:02 PM
Ok here is your proof..

http://iq-test.learninginfo.org/iq04.htm

Descriptive Classifications of Intelligence Quotients
 
IQ Description % of Population
130+ Very superior 2.2%
120-129 Superior 6.7%
110-119 High average 16.1%
90-109 Average 50%
80-89 Low average 16.1%
70-79 Borderline 6.7%
Below 70 Extremely low 2.2%

Apparently, the IQ gives a good indication of the occupational group that a person will end up in, though not of course the specific occupation. In their book, Know Your Child’s IQ, Glen Wilson and Diana Grylls outline occupations typical of various IQ levels:

140 Top Civil Servants; Professors and Research Scientists.
130 Physicians and Surgeons; Lawyers; Engineers (Civil and Mechanical)
120 School Teachers; Pharmacists; Accountants; Nurses; Stenographers; Managers.
110 Foremen; Clerks; Telephone Operators; Salesmen; Policemen; Electricians.
100+ Machine Operators; Shopkeepers; Butchers; Welders; Sheet Metal Workers.
100- Warehousemen; Carpenters; Cooks and Bakers; Small Farmers; Truck and Van Drivers.
90 Laborers; Gardeners; Upholsterers; Farmhands; Miners; Factory Packers and Sorters.



*holds head in hands*

*shakes head slowly*

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Einstein on December 08, 2006, 01:07:06 PM
Einstein once said "Great spirits have always incountered violent opposition from mediocre minds"
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on December 08, 2006, 01:14:02 PM
Einstein once said "Great minds have always incountered violent opposition from mediocre minds"


I know how he feels.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Einstein on December 08, 2006, 01:15:03 PM
I miss quoted.. He actually said "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds"  Sorry..
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Einstein on December 08, 2006, 01:25:57 PM
IQ Description % of Population
130+ Very superior 2.2%
120-129 Superior 6.7%
110-119 High average 16.1%
90-109 Average 50%
80-89 Low average 16.1%
70-79 Borderline 6.7%
Below 70 Extremely low 2.2%


Furthermore.. 2.2% of the population of America which is 300 million would be 6.6 million. 

Although some of this number is represented by people that have not yet pursued a profession, this number can still give you an idea of how many people have an IQ of 130+

Law schools graduate about 50-60K students per year.  And med schools I assume do the same.  That leaves ample amounts of people with 130 IQs to fill the engineering and scientist positions. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: LickandStick on December 08, 2006, 01:27:50 PM
Even the authors of this study have acknowledged that stereotype threat can affect any group.
"Empirical support for our contention that stereotype threat can affect the
member of nearly any stereotyped social group is now abundant."
 Are we supposed to account for sterotype threat in every single test situation when there is a likelihood that one of the groups might feel sterotype threat?   Seems a little silly to me.

http://www.drl.tcu.edu/PoB/PoB_Lectures/social_cognition/stereotypes/Stereotype_Threat.pdf
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Einstein on December 08, 2006, 01:30:47 PM
Even the authors of this study have acknowledged that stereotype threat can affect any group.
"Empirical support for our contention that stereotype threat can affect the
member of nearly any stereotyped social group is now abundant."
 Are we supposed to account for sterotype threat in every single test situation when there is a likelihood that one of the groups might feel sterotype threat?   Seems a little silly to me.

http://www.drl.tcu.edu/PoB/PoB_Lectures/social_cognition/stereotypes/Stereotype_Threat.pdf

Thank you  ;D

Oh and Baboon, I don't think you can "fail the LSAT". You can only score a low score. 

When you say that you sound like my family after I got out of the LSAT.

"Did you pass it"?  I would respond.. "Well I don't know yet, I have to get my score, and then I have to use it to apply to law school and if I don't get accepted anywhere then I guess you could call that a failure of some sort"

You fail to get into law school, you dont fail the actual LSAT.


This is why you're failing the LSAT, idiot.

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on December 08, 2006, 01:55:24 PM
Einstein: stfu. k thx bye.


hey, halfie, do you feel like picking apart all the fallacies and assinine assumptions in his argument?

I know I sure don't.  Way too lazy.  It'll take me hours to finish with that mess.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: LickandStick on December 08, 2006, 02:01:43 PM
No one addressed my point or has it already been raised elsewhere?
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on December 08, 2006, 02:04:20 PM
Einstein: stfu. k thx bye.


hey, halfie, do you feel like picking apart all the fallacies and assinine assumptions in his argument?

I know I sure don't.  Way too lazy.  It'll take me hours to finish with that mess.

This is our problem, J.  We're too lazy to do stuff like that most of the time, so we just snipe at people instead.  :D


To be fair, I don't think this one deserved much more than sniping.   :D
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Big Bossman on December 08, 2006, 03:36:28 PM
The average IQ score of blacks is 4 points lower than average of whites.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on December 08, 2006, 05:48:18 PM
I had a hunch red. would do so, but she didn't.  Strange.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Big Bossman on December 08, 2006, 08:11:51 PM
Yes, lock it before someone says something that is not politically correct and with which you do not agree.  Good idea.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Miss P on December 08, 2006, 08:16:26 PM
Lock this thread, please, before it gets even more infected. 

If I recall (it's been a while since I read all the way through), stuff like this has happened before. She locked it for a while back in the day. Maybe she thinks ignoring it is the better call.

Knowing redemption, I'm sure she believes it is a test of our character.   :D
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: obamacon on December 08, 2006, 08:38:31 PM
Lock this thread, please, before it gets even more infected. 

If I recall (it's been a while since I read all the way through), stuff like this has happened before. She locked it for a while back in the day. Maybe she thinks ignoring it is the better call.

Knowing redemption, I'm sure she believes it is a test of our character.   :D

Knowing both of you, my bet is that she forgot anyone still cared.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: redemption on December 09, 2006, 07:32:59 AM
I don't mind einstein and lickandstick's questions & confusions. The truth is that many people entering law school are just plain dumb and will come out even dumber and armed with JDs. The thing is to do one's best to complicate their puerile and simplistic ways of thinking. That's what this thread is for. As long as no-one responds to an obvious troll like big bossman, I'm not inclined to lock it.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: redemption on December 09, 2006, 07:47:11 AM
Haha. Chicken costumes are the best.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Miss P on December 09, 2006, 08:40:35 AM
Haha. Chicken costumes are the best.

You don't even know the half of it. 
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: FossilJ on December 09, 2006, 01:00:22 PM
Full of wonder at why you're still here?

Well it's nice to see you, and I hope your day improves. 

Now I have to go try to wrangle a two-year-old out of a chicken costume.


 :D :D :D


The imagery is priceless!

Title: Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified
Post by: Big Bossman on December 09, 2006, 01:10:15 PM
Obvious troll?  Obviously correct.  "Socioeconomic bias" or whatever the politically correct nomenclature is these days does not account for a 10 point difference in LSAT score and a 4 point difference in IQ. 

For all of you idealists, fasten your blinders and continue to merrily skip down the yellow brick road.
Title: Re: Why Affirmative Act