Category Archives: College

Succeeding by Traditional Metrics to Enter Harvad

Source: NYTimes, Dec 2016

“I would like my kids to find their passion, take risks and be curious, engaged, educated people,” said Joshua Henkin, the director of the graduate program in fiction writing at Brooklyn College and a 1987 graduate of Harvard. “Elite schools discourage kids from being that; they want them to build résumés, to build careers, to be cautious. The kinds of people who go to Harvard tend to be people who succeed by traditional metrics, and that continues after Harvard. I’d like my kids not to be so beholden to those metrics.”

Teaching Lies to University Students

Source: C2C Journal, Dec 2016
<read the source article, which is full of insights>

the psychology of belief. Partly religious belief, and ideology as a sub-category of religious belief. One of Jung’s propositions was that whatever a person values most highly is their god. If people think they are atheistic, it means is they are unconscious of their gods. In a sophisticated religious system, there is a positive and negative polarity. Ideologies simplify that polarity and, in doing so, demonize and oversimplify.

… particularly interested in what led people to commit atrocities in service of their belief. The motto of the Holocaust Museum in Washington is “we must never forget.” I’ve learned that you cannot remember what you don’t understand.

There have been lots of cases where free speech has come under attack, why did you choose this particular issue?

This is very compelled speech. The Supreme Court in the United States has held that compelled speech is unacceptable for two reasons. One is to protect the rights of the speaker, the other is to protect the rights of the listener. The listener has the right to be informed and instructed without being unduly influenced by hidden sources. If your speech is compelled, it isn’t YOU who is talking, it’s some other entity that’s compelling your speech. So I actually think that Bill C-16 is unconstitutional. I’m using American case law, but the principles apply. It just hasn’t been pushed to our Supreme Court yet.

Solzhenitsyn demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that the horrors [of the Soviet system] were a logical consequence of the doctrines embedded within Marxist thinking. I think Dostoyevsky saw what was coming and Nietzsche wrote about it extensively in the 1880s, laying out the propositions that are encapsulated in Marxist doctrine, and warning that millions of people would die in the 20th century because of it.

Social constructionism is the doctrine that all human roles are socially constructed. They’re detached from the underlying biology and from the underlying objective world.

Are you suggesting they’ve altered the rule of law as we traditionally understand it?

They have. They say ‘what you said hurt my feelings’ – and this is part of the assault on the objective world – your intent is irrelevant. My subjective response is the determining factor.

This stuff is not easy to understand. You might ask, ‘why can’t you just call people what they want to be called?’ Well, when someone questions your use of pronouns, it puts you on the spot. You don’t know why you use the pronouns you use. You use them because everyone else uses them – it’s a social convention. Then someone else says ‘it’s a mark of respect to use a pronoun, and it’s a mark of respect to use the pronoun of someone’s choice’. Those are large-scale philosophical assaults. If you’re not prepared for them, all you can do is stumble around, and your default is going to be ‘well, maybe we should be nice’.

So maybe some of them voted for it because they don’t understand the philosophical issues and just didn’t want to offend anybody?

That’s why I’m trying to take these arguments apart. First of all, “he” and “she” are not marks of respect. They’re the most casual terms possible. If I refer to someone as “he” or I refer to someone as “she,” it’s not a mark of respect, its just categorization of the most simple and obvious kind. There’s not anything about it that’s individual, or characteristic of respect. Second, you have no right to demand from me that I do anything with regards to you that’s respectful. The best you can hope for from me is sceptical neutrality and courageous trust. That’s it. That’s what you get from me.

The best you can hope for from me is sceptical neutrality and courageous trust. That’s it. That’s what you get from me.

Could you define those two terms?

Skeptical neutrality is ‘you’re a bucket of snakes, just like me. However, if you’re willing to abide by your word, and I’m willing to abide by my word, then we’re able to engage in mutually beneficial interactions, so that’s what we’re going to do’. The reason I said courageous trust is to distinguish it from naiveté.

Naive people think that everybody’s good. That’s false, everybody’s not good. But acting in a manner that’s hostile and sceptical and anti-social is completely counter-productive. So what you do if you’re a mature person is you say ‘well, yeah, you’ve got a dark side, so do I. That doesn’t mean we can’t engage in productive interactions’.

We do that by sticking to our damned word. Honesty simplifies us to the point where we can engage in mutually beneficial interactions. But you certainly don’t get my respect by demanding it. You have no right whatsoever to ask me to mark you out as special in any way whatsoever.

So we shouldn’t call someone ‘your majesty’ just because they ask for it?

Well that’s another problem that’s lurking under the subjectivity argument, once you divorce identity from an objective underpinning. These people [advocates for multiple gender identities and laws to protect them] claim that identity is a social construct, but even though that’s their fundamental philosophical claim, and they’ve built it into the law, they don’t abide by those principles. Instead, they go right to subjectivity. They say that your identity is nothing more than your subjective feeling of what you are. Well, that’s also a staggeringly impoverished idea of what constitutes identity. It’s like the claim of an egocentric two-year old, and I mean that technically. Your identity isn’t just how you feel about yourself. It’s also how you think about yourself, it’s what you know about yourself, it’s your educated judgement about yourself. It’s negotiated with other people if you’re even vaguely civilized because otherwise no one can stand you.

I think that what I did was make the general concrete and specific, and drew a line. Now the price you pay for drawing a line – especially with the politically correct material – is that you’re going to get tarred and feathered for bigotry. The social justice people are always on the side of compassion and ‘victim’s rights,’ so objecting to anything they do makes you instantly a perpetrator. There’s no place you can stand without being vilified, and that’s why it keeps creeping forward.

Bill Gates Skipped His Harvard Classes

Source: Business Insider, Mar 2016

One Redditor asked Gates what his fondest memory was from Harvard. Interestingly, Gates explained that he never actually attended a single class he signed up for, but “almost always” received A’s anyways.

I decided that I would be different and never attend any class I was signed up for, but always attend a class I wasn’t signed up for,” Gates said in his AMA. “This worked out in a funny way when the final exam for a Combinatorics class (which I signed up for) was given at the same table as my Brain studies class (which I attended and did not sign up for).

“My friends from Brain studies thought it was very strange that I sat on the wrong side of the table and took the Combinatorics exam even when I was the most vocal student in the Brain class,” he added.

As for how he managed to maintain his grade point average while attending completely different classes, Gates said he simply “studied super hard” during Harvard’s reading period, the time when students prepare for their exams.

Of course, it didn’t always go smoothly.

“The big exception was organic chemistry where the promised video tapes of the lectures sometimes had no sound or no video,” Gates said on Reddit. “That spooked me and I ended up getting a C+ in the course!”

MIT Admissions Blogger Shares Resources for MIT Undergraduate Application

Source: Slice of MIT, Oct 2016

This post is addressed to all the Applicants who have emailed me, and it contains all the answers to your questions that I could know, some generalized for the public.

Big Fish in a Smaller Pond

Source: HBR, Jul 2016

According to the study, if two universities of similar size are similarly selective, the university with the better regional rank will attract more firms to recruit there, and its graduates will earn more money. In other words, if you want to work at an elite firm, going to Harvard is less important than going to the “Harvard” of your region.

Weinstein’s study found that students’ earnings can be quite high if they attend the most selective school in their region. His study also is relevant to student loan interest rates, which may be tied to school quality. And his findings support incentivizing students to attend a school with a high regional rank even if its national rank is lower.

IQ .NE. Human Worth

Source: The Atlantic, Jul/Aug 2016

… according to the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, a long-running federal study, IQ correlates with chances of landing a financially rewarding job. Other analyses suggest that each IQ point is worth hundreds of dollars in annual income—surely a painful formula for the 80 million Americans with an IQ of 90 or below.

Rather than looking for ways to give the less intelligent a break, the successful and influential seem more determined than ever to freeze them out.

The College Board has suggested a “college readiness benchmark” that works out to roughly 500 on each portion of the SAT as a score below which students are not likely to achieve at least a B-minus average at “a four-year college”—presumably an average one. (By comparison, at Ohio State University, a considerably better-than-average school ranked 52nd among U.S. universities by U.S. News & World Report, freshmen entering in 2014 averaged 605 on the reading section of the SAT and 668 on the math section.)

it seems safe to say that no more than one in three American high-school students is capable of hitting the College Board’s benchmark. Quibble with the details all you want, but there’s no escaping the conclusion that most Americans aren’t smart enough to do something we are told is an essential step toward succeeding in our new, brain-centric economy—namely, get through four years of college with moderately good grades.

We must stop glorifying intelligence and treating our society as a playground for the smart minority. We should instead begin shaping our economy, our schools, even our culture with an eye to the abilities and needs of the majority, and to the full range of human capacity.

Is the Knowledge Economy Overstated?

Source: The Guardian, May 2016

Governments around the world believe that to remain competitive in a global economy they must become smarter. In an attempt to boost its knowledge intensiveness, the UK government has just launched a plan to overhaul the university sector. It aims to transform universities by creating many more of them. The hope is that this will increase the number of people with degrees, and the UK will be a more competitive economy.

The idea of the knowledge economy is appealing. The only problem is it is largely a myth. Developed western economies such as the UK and the US are not brimming with jobs that require degree-level qualifications.

For every job as a skilled computer programmer, there are three jobs flipping burgers. The fastest-growing jobs are low-skilled repetitive ones in the service sector. One-third of the US labour market is made up of three types of work: office and administrative support, sales and food preparation.

The majority of jobs being created today do not require degree-level qualifications. In the US in 2010, 20% of jobs required a bachelor’s degree, 43% required a high-school education, and 26% did not even require that. Meanwhile, 40% of young people study for degrees. This means over half the people gaining degrees today will find themselves working in jobs that don’t require one.

Expanding universities and encouraging increasing numbers of young people to study for degrees may not be the smartest thing to do. It means educating more people who aren’t that interested, for jobs that don’t exist, in a way that has little impact on their intellectual ability. These students will emerge from their few years of education saddled with tens of thousands of pounds of debt. Many will not be able to pay it off and that debt will become the responsibility of the taxpayer. The government’s plan of opening even more universities and offering ever more degrees could easily make matters worse. Attempts to create an intelligent economy could end up being a rather stupid idea.