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Author Topic: Why Affirmative Action is Justified  (Read 89687 times)

SapientiaEstPotentia

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #90 on: June 10, 2006, 12:06:05 AM »
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.   
One cannot conceive anything so strange and so implausible that it has not already been said by one philosopher or another. -- René Descartes, A Discourse on Method

SapientiaEstPotentia

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #91 on: June 10, 2006, 12:19:31 AM »
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.
One cannot conceive anything so strange and so implausible that it has not already been said by one philosopher or another. -- René Descartes, A Discourse on Method

redemption

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #92 on: June 10, 2006, 07:23:26 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

redemption

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #93 on: July 03, 2006, 09:17:49 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.

FossilJ

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #94 on: July 04, 2006, 04:29:10 AM »
BAFF for red's return.

MANO A MANO, RED.  MANO A MANO.




Ah hell.  You know I agree with you.  But still BAFFing.
Pish, J only wants to waste YOUR time.  Get wise.

FossilJ

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #95 on: July 04, 2006, 05:53:10 PM »
You mean without her here to be right while you're still wrong?
Pish, J only wants to waste YOUR time.  Get wise.

FossilJ

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #96 on: July 04, 2006, 08:38:38 PM »
I will take that as ad admission.
Pish, J only wants to waste YOUR time.  Get wise.

thorc954

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #97 on: July 05, 2006, 06:31:11 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. 

FossilJ

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #98 on: July 05, 2006, 07:29:48 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. 
Pish, J only wants to waste YOUR time.  Get wise.

thorc954

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #99 on: July 05, 2006, 10:45:39 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.