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Author Topic: Do LSAT/GPA reflect any non-academic personal qualities?  (Read 1685 times)

beano

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Do LSAT/GPA reflect any non-academic personal qualities?
« on: April 28, 2005, 02:36:42 PM »
Discussion of this started in the Yale thread, but since it has absolutely nothing to do with Yale I'm proposing that the discussion get its own thread in case anybody still wants to discuss it.

tencigars said that he felt a little disillusioned upon discovering evidence that having a high GPA and LSAT score doesn't seem to actually be correlated with interesting and admirable personal qualities (being nice, not snobby, having cool ideas, whatever).

I said I didn't think there was any reason that high numbers should imply that one is an interesting/admirable person, because you don't have to be nice or interesting or whatever to score well on the LSAT and have a high GPA, etc, etc.

So ... then tencigars said this stuff:

Racism is certainly unreasonable. The basis, a belief in the gross inferiority of another race, is fallaciously arrived at, as are racists' reasons for the treatment of members of other races, even if one assumed, arguendo, the accuracy of the first premise.

Sexism..similarly unreasonable.

Religious persecution..also very similarly unreasonable.  Come on!  Launching a crusade to kill men, women, and children..in the name of Christ?  A guy who historically taught against such actions.

So some great evils are based on and facilitated by very poor reasoning.

Here's a new thought..

Consider the effectiveness of cognitive therapy, which studies now show is at least as effective for depression and several other disorders as medication.  Cognitive therapy is basically the application of reason to a person's neurosis or psychosis.  E.g., helping him achieve a more healthy, balanced perspective on the subject(s) of their fears or sadness.

And cognitive therapy, which is relatively new, has been around for hundreds perhaps thousands of years in Asian cultures in other forms.  E.g., the Dalai Lama in his book The Art of Happiness says that most emotional problems (unhappiness) are, under Buddhist philosophy, due to "wrong-thinking."

Again, it would seem that poor reasoning, or the absence of application of reasoning, contributes to "evils."

And the evils that individuals suffer from are passed on and inflicted on others.  Studies have shown that those who cause pain and suffering to others, etc., often have profound psychological problems themselves.

Example: Stalin was miserable.  He suffered from extreme paranoia that led him to murder those around him, even friends and relatives (forgetting the other 40 million deaths attributed to him).

Example: A university study showed that people who were happy, coming out of a movie theater after seeing a comedy, etc., were much more likely to help others, stangers on the street who asked for assistance, than those who were unhappy.

Do you see where I am going with this, beano?

Jumping ahead a couple steps..

Intelligence, or its application in reasoning (science), has replaced religion as the light that dispells darkness.  The LSAT attempts to measure reasoning ability.  Law schools look for those they think may become brilliant legal reasoners.  In law school and out, reasoning will be our occupation, out stock in trade.

Combine that with the fact that as lawyers, legal professionals, we are supposed to "profess" a belief in justice and the equitable resolution of disputes.

Is there no grounds to expect a greater percentage of individuals with admirable character in law school than elsewhere?

HippieLawChick

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Re: Do LSAT/GPA reflect any non-academic personal qualities?
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2005, 02:51:35 PM »
LSAT type reasoning and personal accountability and behaviour are entirely seperate.  Much of the intolerance/evil (IMHO)in the world comes from selfishness, not flawed reasoning.   People are all out "for themselves" and fail to be kind/help others because they are busy looking out for their own self-interest.

A prime example of this would be politicians.  Almost all are lawyers (once you get past the very local level) and most of them do things that one person or another considers immoral or wrong.  They aren't doing these things because they can't reason properly, they are doing it because they are selfishly doing what is going to get them reelected or help them in their political career rather than the most "reasonable" course of action.

The recent bankruptcy bill is unreasonable, but it passed because the large credit card and financial companies had more money to lobby than the poor consumers did. 

People who have high GPAs and high LSAT scores may be spending more time "thinking" than acting for the good of others.  They are driven to suceed, and might not be afraid to step on others to do so. 

The humble and meek don't seem to be going to law school in droves; it is those who think they are smart, fast talkers, good at arguing, assertive, etc that seem to be the majority.


As for the movie theater example, isn't it equally possible that those who were coming out were mostly with someone else (people rarely go to the movies alone) and were protecting their self-interest (ie: the relationship with the person they went to the movie with) by helping someone rather than failing to do so and looking "bad"?
 

BoscoBreaux

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Re: Do LSAT/GPA reflect any non-academic personal qualities?
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2005, 03:01:25 PM »
If anything, if we were to assume that tencigars has a high GPA and LSAT combination, he proves that there is no correlation. How pedantic! (This would hardly be seen as an admirable trait.)

The Dread Pirate Roberts

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Re: Do LSAT/GPA reflect any non-academic personal qualities?
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2005, 03:14:22 PM »
Much like the bible, it seems to me that you can use logic to justify just about anything.  It's just a matter of selectivity.  Pick your verse or pick your premises.

beano

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Re: Do LSAT/GPA reflect any non-academic personal qualities?
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2005, 03:39:00 PM »

Racism is certainly unreasonable. The basis, a belief in the gross inferiority of another race, is fallaciously arrived at, as are racists' reasons for the treatment of members of other races, even if one assumed, arguendo, the accuracy of the first premise.

Sexism..similarly unreasonable.

Religious persecution..also very similarly unreasonable.  Come on!  Launching a crusade to kill men, women, and children..in the name of Christ?  A guy who historically taught against such actions.

So some great evils are based on and facilitated by very poor reasoning.

A couple things.  First, *maybe* people with high numbers are less likely to be racist, sexist, religious fundamentalist crusaders.  I don't personally know any openly racist, sexist, or religious crusader-type people, or their LSAT scores and GPAs, so I don't even have any anecdotal evidence that addresses that question.  But there is a long way to go from being "not openly racist" to being interesting, kind, admirable, and enjoyable to be around. 

I don't agree that all, or even most of the qualities that make somebody unpleasant are related to poor reasoning -- and further, even this were true, and a person had such perfect reasoning that they were free of all unpleasant personal qualities, that wouldn't mean they would necessarily have positive good qualities, like creativity, etc. (ie, just because you don't suck doesn't mean you're admirable).

Also, I would tend to agree with sugarsh -- you *can* use logic to support various "evils," and not necessarily by applying it poorly.  It depends what assumptions you make (and you always have to make some assumptions that aren't necessarily logically arrived at).

tencigars

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Re: Do LSAT/GPA reflect any non-academic personal qualities?
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2005, 05:51:07 PM »
First off, I never even implied that I personally had high scores.

The question originally, I believe, was whether there was any correlation at all between the high GPA and LSAT scores of law students, and Yale admittees in particular, and qualitites of admirable character, or at least interesting personality.

Beano asserted that there was zero correlation.

I am not arguing a strong correlation, but rather the presence of some correlation.

The gist of my argument so far has been that reason is inherently positive as well as being a tool that can be used for a range of ends, some good, some bad.


tencigars

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Re: Do LSAT/GPA reflect any non-academic personal qualities?
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2005, 06:48:01 PM »
LSAT type reasoning and personal accountability and behaviour are entirely seperate.  Much of the intolerance/evil (IMHO)in the world comes from selfishness, not flawed reasoning.   People are all out "for themselves" and fail to be kind/help others because they are busy looking out for their own self-interest.

I would add that self-interest is not by itself an "evil."  In fact, it is inherently a good.  Doing something for someone, even yourself, is a good thing.  Doing something for yourself only becomes an evil when it is at the significant expense of others.

Wouldn't good rather than poor reasoning ability better facilitate the achievement of goals for both one's self and others?  Help one avoid potentially harmful blunders?  Help one become a better person if that is a goal?  (I wonder how common that particular goal is.  I'm hopeful.)

Quote
A prime example of this would be politicians.  Almost all are lawyers (once you get past the very local level) and most of them do things that one person or another considers immoral or wrong.  They aren't doing these things because they can't reason properly, they are doing it because they are selfishly doing what is going to get them reelected or help them in their political career rather than the most "reasonable" course of action.

Still, in addition to self-interest, many if not most operate with the benefit of their constituents in mind as well.  Wouldn't better reasoning ability facilitate them in this pursuit?  (Aristotle said that the ultimate goal of government is the happiness of the people.)

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The humble and meek don't seem to be going to law school in droves; it is those who think they are smart, fast talkers, good at arguing, assertive, etc that seem to be the majority.

Yes, that may be why I'm finding some disappointment in the caliber of law students: a disproportionate presence of avarice and the like in addition to higher than average reasoning abilities.

Quote
As for the movie theater example, isn't it equally possible that those who were coming out were mostly with someone else (people rarely go to the movies alone) and were protecting their self-interest (ie: the relationship with the person they went to the movie with) by helping someone rather than failing to do so and looking "bad"?

Good point.  I believe the study tried to eliminate such possibilities, and I think it has been reproduced by others.


I agree with most of your post.

Could you argue an case for there being some inherent value to reason?  And, separately, some correlation between reasoning ability and qualites of admirable character or at least interesting personality (the original description of the correlation, I believe)?

tencigars

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Re: Do LSAT/GPA reflect any non-academic personal qualities?
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2005, 06:56:09 PM »

Racism is certainly unreasonable. The basis, a belief in the gross inferiority of another race, is fallaciously arrived at, as are racists' reasons for the treatment of members of other races, even if one assumed, arguendo, the accuracy of the first premise.

Sexism..similarly unreasonable.

Religious persecution..also very similarly unreasonable.  Come on!  Launching a crusade to kill men, women, and children..in the name of Christ?  A guy who historically taught against such actions.

So some great evils are based on and facilitated by very poor reasoning.

A couple things.  First, *maybe* people with high numbers are less likely to be racist, sexist, religious fundamentalist crusaders.  I don't personally know any openly racist, sexist, or religious crusader-type people, or their LSAT scores and GPAs, so I don't even have any anecdotal evidence that addresses that question.  But there is a long way to go from being "not openly racist" to being interesting, kind, admirable, and enjoyable to be around. 

I don't agree that all, or even most of the qualities that make somebody unpleasant are related to poor reasoning -- and further, even this were true, and a person had such perfect reasoning that they were free of all unpleasant personal qualities, that wouldn't mean they would necessarily have positive good qualities, like creativity, etc. (ie, just because you don't suck doesn't mean you're admirable).

Also, I would tend to agree with sugarsh -- you *can* use logic to support various "evils," and not necessarily by applying it poorly.  It depends what assumptions you make (and you always have to make some assumptions that aren't necessarily logically arrived at).

Would you say, then, that there is some inherent value to reasoning ability, and that there is some correlation between high reasoning ability and admirable character and interesting personality (which I will define as being dynamic with depth)?

We may only disagree on how much.  (And I already admit that I was wrong in my previous assumption of a strong correlation [in the case of law students at least].)

AKA23

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Re: Do LSAT/GPA reflect any non-academic personal qualities?
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2005, 07:00:56 PM »
I agree with most on here that said that there isn't really a correlation between admirable personal qualities and a high GPA and/or LSAT. I would agree that it should be correlated more often than not with dedication, motivation, and other characteristics that would make sense in a good student, but even that is not guaranteed. There are some people who don't study all that much yet do ridiculously well in classes. Sure, it's not very common, but it is possible. As far as desirable personal qualities like kindness, compassion, and the like, I don't think high GPA or LSAT would be predictive of these. Being a good student may indicate reasoning ability, or at least the potential for it, but I don't think it would be accurate to state that this reasoning ability would be used to be kind and compassionate and be a generally good person. Loads of people use said reasoning ability for entirely different claims. Many people may use that ability to build themselves up at the expense of others, so some may even claim that these things could be evidence of a correlation in the reverse, although I don't believe that, either. I think they're pretty independent of each other, personally.   

tencigars

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Re: Do LSAT/GPA reflect any non-academic personal qualities?
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2005, 07:13:30 PM »
If anything, if we were to assume that tencigars has a high GPA and LSAT combination, he proves that there is no correlation. How pedantic! (This would hardly be seen as an admirable trait.)


I never implied that I had high scores.

Your argument is flawed, by the way.  A basic LSAT flaw, too.

The presence of one less-than-admirable trait would not necessitate the absence of any, much less all, other admirable traits.

If I was, arguendo, being pedantic, that would by itself fall far short of "proving that there is no correlation."

End of lesson  ;)