September 28, 2013

The 3,000 most important toddlers in the world

I'm sure it bores most people, but I can never get enough of New York Times articles about the Wechsler I.Q. tests that the 3,000 most important four-year-olds in the world (or at least in Manhattan and the better parts of Brooklyn) take each year so their parents can pay $40,000 per year for them to attend kindergarten with some of the other 2,999 most important small children in the world. Pay no attention to that IQ test behind the curtain!
Your 4-Year-Old Scored a 95? Better Luck Next Time 
Abandoning E.R.B. Test May Also Put End to a Status Symbol
By WINNIE HU and KYLE SPENCER

When other preschool parents bragged that their children had aced the admission test for New York City private schools with a top score of 99 in every section, Justine Oddo stayed quiet. Her twin boys had not done as well.

“It seemed like everyone got 99s,” recalled Ms. Oddo as her sons, now 7, scampered around a playground near Fifth Avenue. “Kids you thought weren’t that smart got 99s. It was demoralizing. It made me think my kids are not as smart as the rest of the kids.” 
Her sons’ scores? Between them, they had one 99 and the rest 95s, which would still put them in the top 5 percent of all children nationwide.

Cough Losers Cough
A decision last week by a group of private schools to move away from the test, commonly known as the E.R.B., will spare many 4- and 5-year-olds from a rite of New York childhood that dates back half a century. But it could also bring an end to a particular New York status symbol — a child with knockout scores — and to the uncomfortable conversations that occur each year when results start rolling in. 

Not likely. Whatever magically non-competitive test replaces the Wechsler IQ test for NYC kindergarten admissions will instantly become the most gamed status symbol this side of Seoul.
From the Upper East Side to Brooklyn, score-dropping in playdates and parks is common, with high marks flaunted by the parents of children who excel with 99s and anguished over by those who have to explain anything less. 
... On urbanbaby.com, the Web site where parents chat about their children, the ubiquitous 99s prompted one person to question whether that score was really special since “they seem to be a dime a dozen.” In response came complaints of rampant test-prepping and outright lying. 
At the other end of the scale, some parents are quick to offer excuses for a relatively low score: their child was sick, tired or having a bad year.

I had a bad decade or five.
Amanda Uhry, founder of Manhattan Private School Advisors, said that one mother tried to explain away her daughter’s 68 by saying she had been bullied in preschool. “Whether it’s the E.R.B. or sports, parents see their kids as an extension of themselves,” Ms. Uhry said.

Kids actually are an extension of their parents.
“It reflects on them. They think, ‘What did I do wrong?'” 
All this has led many private schools to try to discourage parents from comparing E.R.B. scores. Some have even likened it to one’s salary — the less said, the better. At the Mandell School, which has a preschool and kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school on the Upper West Side, administrators suspected that a few parents were actually inflating numbers in conversation. ... 
Last week the Independent Schools Admissions Association of Greater New York, which represents more than 140 private schools, cited concerns that scores had been inflated by widespread test preparation and thus was no longer an accurate measure of ability. It said that it would stop recommending its members use the test as an entry requirement after next year, though a new assessment is expected to be developed in its place. Most schools in the group are expected to follow the recommendation. 
The test, a version of an exam known as the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence, consists of two sections: verbal (which includes vocabulary and comprehension) and performance (picture concepts and block design, among other skills). Students receive three percentile scores, one for each section and a combined mark; a proud parent might let it be known that their child was a “99 x 3” or simply a “99.” 
The name E.R.B. is actually a misnomer; the test’s actual name is the Early Childhood Admission Assessment. E.R.B. stands for the Educational Records Bureau, which administers the test. 
The bureau issued a report defending the test, saying that while scores had increased, they had done so only gradually over time. But the report also acknowledged “the alarming number of children” who score in the highest percentiles: in each of the past few years between 62 and 70 percent of the applicants to the independent schools represented by the association reached the 90th percentile, meaning they were in the top 10th of a national norm of students who took a version of the Wechsler test, and between 18 and 29 percent scored at the 98th percentile. However, the report said the average E.R.B. child was, statistically speaking, a higher performer than the average American child and that “this is not a new trend.” 

Here's the E.R.B. report. The sore thumb sticking out is that the percent scoring at the 98th or 99th percentiles went from 17.8% in the middle of the last decade to 29.2% in the most recent year.
Still, among parents the coaching issue has become the preschool version of steroids in baseball, with any chart-busting score arousing suspicion. Debra Mesnick, a pediatrician whose children took the E.R.B., said she knew parents who were prepping their children even though they acted as though they were not. “There were the names of $200-an-hour tutors floating around, but people didn’t admit to using them,” she said.
... Jae Chun, a lawyer, said he would try to discreetly change the subject. “When someone told you their child scored an 80 percent, it was very awkward to say your child scored a 99,” he said. Another parent, Marie Bishko, said that parents became stressed because the E.R.B. “divides children into two piles” — the 99s, and everyone else. ...
Still, Ms. Oddo said she never talked about her sons’ scores at the time. And she was not the only one, she noted. Other than 99s, the only scores she heard were in the 70s and 80s, which were so low as to be credibly attributed to a lack of focus or just a bad day. 
“People who had 80s, they always had justification,” she said. “Nobody talks about it if it’s in the 90s.”

Somebody asked me what all the super-elite kindergartens for networking toddlers are in Los Angeles, and how do they admit their students. I have no idea. (It took me years to figure out the convoluted system for getting into a good public magnet school.) I'm sure there some, but I can't imagine they try that hard to pretend they're open to any child with a high IQ (and $40,000 or whatever per year). 

Los Angeles just isn't as IQ obsessed as New York is. It's a who-you-know culture, and if you don't know anybody, why would they let your child in to their kindergarten for the children of cool parents? Maybe if you are extremely good looking, they'd make an exception. But if you are ugly and unpopular, who cares what your kid's I.Q. is?

In general, no place in America emphasizes smartness like New York. (Definitely not L.A.) And it's not just the Manhattanites. The Outer Boroughs types have what Tom Wolfe called Big League Syndrome. I had a cabdriver in 1984, a black American guy, who was a Big League Cabbie. The city had just recently started synchronizing the lights, so he had experiment with and memorized the exact speed to drive to catch all the green lights on every major avenue in NYC. Third Avenue's ideal speed was 36.2 mph, he said. And he was right. He got me from Midtown Manhattan to La Guardia in 18 minutes, catching dozens of green lights in a row. While he was doing it, he had me quiz him on random locations in New York. (The street numbers on Manhattan's avenues are not in sync, so it's a challenge to figure out what the cross-street is from its number.) He got the half-dozen or so addresses I threw at him absolutely right, all the while maintaining a rock-solid 36.2 mph. A Big League Taxi Driver!

64 comments:

Anonymous said...

I saw a true prodigy yesterday.

Not the fake kind.

I was at the swimming pool and this kid was on his second or third lesson and he was already starting to swim like Michael Phelps.

[Actually, his budding young technique was a little more like Michael Gross, but whatever...]

I talked to his mother, and she said that after a few guitar lessons, his teacher said that he played the guitar as though he'd been at it for 10 years.

And yet the kid can't sit still for formal schooling [round peg, square hole - you know the deal].

Point being that true God-given gifts are the very last thing that you would ever wany exposed to the "nail which sticks up must be hammered down" mentality of the Nurse Ratcheds who run the professional edumakashun rackets.

And the other obvious point being that God-given gifts are given by God, not by man.

And certainly not by man-made nursery-school entrance exams.

Scheissherr said...

I've been around the East Coast, and Boston actually loves IQ just as much--they try to reframe their rivalry with NYC as Athens-Sparta, as if the home of $300 sushi plates were Spartan in any meaningful sense. It's an East Coast-West Coast thing, I think-- most of the elite in these cities are Jews and WASPs who actually take the old European intellectual ideals somewhat seriously. This is one of the few places in America with impressive opera houses, museums, ballet, etc. It always attracts a few WFB-style conservatives who actually appreciate Western Civ.

I wouldn't make fun of the taxicab guy--if most of the working class put that much effort into their jobs, America (and the world) would be a better place. NYC is actually a pretty good place for an intellectual prole if you can get around the housing issue somehow--one of the security guards at the place I went to college would pass the time reading advanced math books, which he could get from the library as a university employee. And the NYPL is way better than small-town libraries, for obvious reasons involving economies of scale.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it. If everyone preps for the ERB doesn't this mean everyones score goes up but their percentile remains the same? What am I missing?

I have to confess that I frequently brag about my kid's ERB score. I actually called the ERB once and wheedled it out of them that my son got one of the top raw scores nationally. I'm still dining out on that one. Nothing feels better than scoring off my Microsoft millionaire friend's ego because my kid is 3 sigma smarter. I may be some salaryman engineer loser with a puny 401k but my kid is a super genius. Suck on that motherfucker!!

TGGP said...

"In general, no place in America emphasizes smartness like New York. (Definitely not L.A.)"
Paul Graham: "New York tells you, above all: you should make more money. [...] Boston (or rather Cambridge) [...]: you should be smarter [...] Berkeley [...]: you should live better [...] The big thing in LA seems to be fame [...] In DC the message seems to be that the most important thing is who you know"

elmer said...

All this, just so the children of those who daily accuse the rest of us of racism can attend schools devoid of people of color.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a child psychologist, or even a psychologist, but somehow I have nagging doubts about the value of IQ tests for very young kiddies.
In all probability, intelligence is fixed and the nascent powers of the child do, somehow, show through at that tender age, but is it really the right time to sort and categorize - shouldn't kindergartens be all about drawing out the child in that the next *big* hurdle ie school won't be so traumatic and the kiddie is acculturated to some extent to the drill factory which will be his second home from now 'till grey hair sets in? Perhaps at the pre-school stage self-confidence, socialization and adapting to a non-home environment should be emphasis.

Anonymous said...

Steve, serious question about the cab driver.

Did cruise control exist back then? Seems that it was invented in late 70s or early 80s. That would of course explain how he was able to maintain the speed to catch all the traffic lights.

But that is a very excellent cabbie that knows he way around Manhattan, no small easy task that.

I would suppose that you have similar cabbies out in LA as well (up to date on all the city's main streets, thoroughfares, etc)


And did I read that correctly, no one emphasizes smartness more than NY, certainly not LA? Really? Seriously? LA = dumb?

Well, an honest critique without sentiment it must be.

Perhaps if LA's little tykes were to train up for the IQ test and get into the exclusive kindergartens, things could slowly change.

Reading stories like these, I wonder what Steven Levitt and Malcolm Gladwell have to say regarding the validity of IQ tests for kids.

Anonymous said...

The black version:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_and_Jill_(organization)

How do you get your kid into Jack and Jill?

Reading your article I think it might be Asians. All those Asian tiger people hogging all the high scores and screwing it up for the old money types. So who cares? I suspect old money types are more free with their money even though they have less than the new money types, or perhaps old money types are viewed as multi generational customers. Or perhaps Asian Tiger parents suck to have as customers. The tests themselves were probably chosen originally because all things being equal the old money types were able to get their kids to pass.

Who are the pushy old money types who demand a test their kids can pass these days? I have to think it is Jews as WASPs don't seem to exist much especially on lists of rich NYers, but that might be because I don't hang out in the right places to see WASPs. I wonder if psychological testing is more of a Jewish rather than WASPish thing? The test seems to appear at around the time the Jewish elite supplants the WASP elite.

Anyways that my explanation.

Anonymous said...

Why do we humans have such a powerful tendency to be ashamed (or proud) of things that we have no control over? Height, penis size, amount of hair, cognitive ability (within limits)? What purpose does it serve, I wonder?

agnostic said...

Just wrote up a post looking to see if there's evidence of "grade inflation" or corruption on this test.

agnostic said...

Link to that post:

http://akinokure.blogspot.com/2013/09/has-grade-inflation-struck-iq-tests-too.html

Dan Kurt said...

Dan Kurt

Your article emphases my contention that Obama is not smart and is only an affirmative action ivy leaguer; he is, in short, a fraud.

I spent during the 60s and 70s just about a decade in an Ivy which included graduate school and a post doc where during those years I met a legion of individuals who just "had" to drop their SATs, GREs, class ranks, hints direct and indirect reflecting their IQs such as MENSA membership. That is what so many at an Ivy do: broad cast their brains.

Obama's hiding his scores and other scholastic records demonstrates that he as well as his wife* did not get to the Ivies on merit but by "pull."

Dan Kurt

*Read Michelle's senior thesis from Princeton on the web. It is an insult to the school in its low quality.

Anonymous said...

Gee, you mean their parents don't cram them into a room full of jocks, gangbangers, and other retarded thugs for their own social well-being?

Anonymous said...

These kindergartens and their feeder preschools should be sued. The preschools should be sued for disparate impact and kindergartens for their discrimination. Everyone knows that all kids are a blank slate.

Simon in London said...

My 4 year old got into independent school here at all with no kind of testing. As far as we can tell it was his Rugby-player build that swung it; either that or they just had places available.

Anonymous said...

I understand that people want to give their children advantages, but this competitive preschool stuff strikes me as preposterous.

I guess it gets them imprinted with the elite ways at a young age. But still, kids go wrong in high school. And it's not ultimately the school that's the reason, it's how dysfunctional the family is or the inherent temperment of the kid.

Screw ups are more common at dumpy schools because they're parents are screw ups who ended up in a *bad* neighborhood. Not the other way around.

Well, that's how it seems to me, imho. Of course, I don't live in Manhatten and I'm obviously beneath the NY times crowd.

Gene Berman said...

My suspicion as to the major motive
of those NYC parents for getting their kids into those private schools is that they're trying to have them be in a social grouping with those they believe will be the "movers and shakers" of the future (on the assumption that "who you know" will always be of entree importance).

Gene Berman said...

Scheissherr:

Wouldn't most of those books (these
days) be available online?

Anonymous said...

*Read Michelle's senior thesis from Princeton on the web. It is an insult to the school in its low quality.


Ok, Dan Kurt, what you have to recognize is that both Barry and Michelle are actually parts of a DIFFERENT affirmative action at work.

Barry may not be all that but he is at least PLAUSIBLE for the "type" he "should" be representing. In other words, among the leftist Ivies, Barry's plausibly top 2% smart. His IQ is probably around 120 which would put him in the top 2% of adult Americans.

He can fake it. He's smart enough that people would believe that "well, in this case, maybe Barry is NOT affirmative action. Maybe he really did get in on his own." He plays the part well.

Michelle, on the other hand, is definitely not all that. She's nowhere near 120 IQ. More like 110 or 112. That's probably good enough for her to do well at a high 2nd tier school like say U. of Michigan.

In her case, that was all Princeton had that particular year. If they had turned her down, imagine all the affirmative action lawsuits thrown at them for not admitting a respectable quota.

MIchelle's the token, the one who rounds out the obligatory quota.

Barry's the reasonably plausible one. It's very possible that he could've gotten into a U. of Chicago or a Stanford on his own without affirmative action.

Michelle is strictly quota. She won the lottery. Big time. Waaayy ahead of where she should've landed.

If she were white, no way she gets into Princeton. But Barry, after all, technically is NOT strictly African-American, at least in the way the term is commonly understood and defined. So it's plausible and with a few Phds in his family tree, its very plausible.

Shelly? No way. Strictly the token quota and if you say anything she'll sue, sue, SUE!

Anonymous said...

"In general, no place in America emphasizes smartness like New York."

Even so, for all that effort, is the New York population actually smarter? I'm willing to believe it might be on average, but if you look at it in terms of the percentage of smart people in the country who are in New York it might be surprisingly small. Wasn't that perhaps the biggest point of the Bell Curve (which noted this was more pronounced in the past, before really universal mobility and modern attempts at cognitive sorting)?

Anonymous said...

I suspect they want to socialize with other high-end parents. That might actually be worth the money. And I don't believe the taxi driver story. It's hard to maintain an exact speed on the highway due to traffic. It would be impossible in NYC.

Anonymous said...

Well, Steve, on this post I can definitely say I agree with you 100%.

"... it bores most people,...."

Anonymous said...

If you observed one group of 95s and one group of 99s, what would be the difference between the two groups of toddlers? Maybe there is a difference, maybe it's not crazy.

Anonymous said...

I thought the definition of an IQ test was that it was ungameable, if you can figure out how to score higher you really are smarter.

Nelson said...

The story is new, but the issue isn't; see my blog post from February on this:

NYC's Gifted and Talented Dilemma: A Window Into the Utility of Psychometric Testing :: Concourse Expressions

dearieme said...

"my kid is a super genius": Mr Sailer, someday you must tell us how the American superstition grew up that high IQ children must grow up to be geniuses.

It's especially odd since all the towering geniuses of Western Civilisation grew up before IQ tests existed, so we'll never know what the IQs of Shakespeare or Newton or Rembrandt etc etc were.

Anonymous said...

I would also have to say that Boston values IQ more than NYC does.

Anonymous said...

It's especially odd since all the towering geniuses of Western Civilisation grew up before IQ tests existed,

More importantly, before compulsory public education existed.

candid_observer said...

I think that inexplicable boost these toddlers get on their IQ tests is part of the "In Like Flynn" Effect.

Anonymous said...

it's all about self-esteem (parents and children)

Anonymous said...

ERB doesn't this mean everyones score goes up but their percentile remains the same? What am I missing?

The ERB is based on the WPPSI which is based on national norms. That's why you're not in the running unless you are at least in the 90th percentile. If these are not the 3,000 smartest pre-schoolers in America, they are the ones with 3,000 of the smartest fathers. It's pretty good to start life's football game on the 10 yard line.

As for test prep, the scores have gone up a few points in recent years but they were always WAY above national norms because these are not normal kids.

Gnosis Sisong said...

Michelle's brother, Craig Robinson, was a two-time Ivy League Basketball Player of the Year at Princeton, in 1981–1982 and 1982–1983. Michelle was class of 1985; might of had something to do with her admission process, maybe.

Alicw said...

Woody Allen was correct when he said the only cultural advantage of California over ny was a right turn on a red light.

SoCal in general is anti intellectual. I grew up in San Diego which has been a defense contractor since WWII, home of general atomic, Qualcomm, SAIC, hundreds of other engineering powerhouses and UC San Diego which propelled itself to the #2 uc in most eng and science disciplines.

And despite all of that, college educated parents gave not a damn whether their own kids went to college. No one read books. Going to theater or classical music was basically unheard of. The beach and surfing was everything. Except for cars. Cars mattered.

LA was worse. More rock n roll, new Hollywood. What mattered was what you looked like, who you were. Guys try to pick up chicks at bars by telling them whose cool after party house they could get them in at.

Having a brain there and admitting it? Never.

Orlando said...

Guys, for Christ sake, how can U take this testing and preschool racket seriously! I don´t know (at least personally) any 2 cities in the world, where money stinks less then in NY and LA. Imagine all those super smart (not to speak about chutzpah) WS/Hollywood rich guys, who spent their valuable time on the couches of super chutzpah charlatans of all times – NY/LA psychoanalysts. (Woody Allen comes to mind…)

Orlando said...

Speaking about UCSD. My biggest eye opener as to whom the 21st century will belong was my first stroll down its La Jolla campus back in late 80´s. Virtually all the posters and notes were about lesbian or/and gay issues, meetings, parties etc. Standard types playing football, with a squad of cheerleaders on side. Bright looking surfer types, mostly blond, manning cafeterias. Quite a few bleached crew cuts. Something was conspicuously missing. Then I waded into undergrad library. The picture of three hundred pairs of slanted eyes over the textbooks got burned into my brain forever.

Asian (and to some extend European) grad and post grad brains fuelled the rocket trajectory of UCSD eng and sci programs and their spinoffs like GA, SAIC, etc. Plus sun and waves, brought to you courtesy of Hollywood. Quite a remarkable story behind comparably cheap institution built in mid sixties on chutzpah of Herbert Marcuse and afro of Angela Davis.

sunbeam said...

This is all well and good, and even makes sense (as so many other things suspiciously do).

But why is it that the intellectual mecca of this country appears to be the Bay Area?

I'll admit it, I'm a chauvinist. I discount literature, philosophy, history, philology, you name it, I discount it.

The only thing that matters is STEM. This is the only thing that changes the world.

Boston has a presence in this, but my impression is that it is a faint shadow of the Bay Area.

NY (and LA) might as well not exist if you are playing this game.

So where do all these smart NY'ers go? Do they go to MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, and Caltech, then migrate to the Bay Area?

Or do they go to Yale and Princeton, then go on to Wall Street to engage in financial masturbation, which is personally lucrative but totally useless in the Big Picture?

Intelligence that winds up being positioned to exist in a useless area, is intelligence that doesn't matter at all. It might even be deleterious, as Wall Street/Washington show.

Orlando said...

“But why is it that the intellectual mecca of this country appears to be the Bay Area? The only thing that matters is STEM. This is the only thing that changes the world. Boston has a presence in this, but my impression is that it is a faint shadow of the Bay Area. NY (and LA) might as well not exist if you are playing this game.”

If this is true, game´s over. If most of the relevant brains of a 300M nation fit into such a small area, well… Leaving out China and India, I bet that just Japan and Korea with half the population could muster among themselves more STEM talent. Now, throw China and India back into the brew and watch them changing the world...

Anonymous said...

Uhry is a hot topic over at urbanbaby,

http://www.urbanbaby.com/topics/55105469

Anonymous said...

Yes, Boston/NYC is Athens/Sparta. Scheissherr, it's more the Boring Brahman vs. the Tacky Tribe. Think Ned Johnson vs. Donald Trump.

A lot of the intelligentsia from NYC attend university in Boston. There's little movement in the other direction until after graduation, when the declasse' money grubbers head for New York.

Anonymous said...

I thought the definition of an IQ test was that it was ungameable, if you can figure out how to score higher you really are smarter.

You can do a little better if you know what to expect and have a little familiarity with it. I think there is some research showing that the scores of repeat IQ-test takers tend to go up.

Anonymous said...

The only thing that matters is STEM. This is the only thing that changes the world.

Rhetoric doesn't change the world? Charisma doesn't change the world? Marketing doesn't change the world? Moral entrepreneurship doesn't change the world?

Oliver said...

How much test prep can you really do with a 3 yr old? Seriously. The best you can really do is try to just spend some time each day with your small kids, playing with them while patiently teaching them what can stick. The true geniuses will rise to the top under that parenting.

Anonymous said...

"I'm sure there some, but I can't imagine they try that hard to pretend they're open to any child with a high IQ (and $40,000 or whatever per year)."

Yup. Pay-Q is the real status symbol.

Anonymous said...

"I don't believe the taxi driver story. It's hard to maintain an exact speed on the highway due to traffic. It would be impossible in NYC."

Being from NY I can attest to the fact that the lights are timed and you can time the lights. And taxi drivers are much better at timing the lights than anyone else. Apparently according to the mathematicians you cannot time all lights on the grid network to the same speed, this means a taximan needs to vary his speed for different locations.

This is what happens when you try to beat the traffic system purely with speed:

Tourist hit by New York taxi has part of leg amputated

http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/22/us/new-york-cab-amputation/index.html

"afroduck" lapped Manhattan in 24min to become legend and busted by the police. But demonstrated skill in timed the lights.

Search on Fastest Lap Around Manhattan 2013 for details.

But you see, now you've got me thinking something stupid that happened in New York is important because it happened in NY. Shame on me.

Anonymous said...

[Obamas'] IQ is probably around 120 which would put him in the top 2% of adult Americans.

A 120 IQ would put him at about the 90th percentile, not the 98th. He'd have to be around 130-ish to be in the top 2%. While Obama quite obviously is an intellectual BS artist, I think 130-ish is plausible, probably with a strong dimorphic split between quant and verbal.

Michelle got into Princeton because of the all-Ivy basketball skills of her older brother.

Truth said...

"Obama's hiding his scores and other scholastic records demonstrates that he as well as his wife* did not get to the Ivies on merit but by "pull."

What president has ever published his scholastic records?

Truth said...

"Michelle, on the other hand, is definitely not all that. She's nowhere near 120 IQ. More like 110 or 112."

In other words, you admit that Michelle Obama is probably smarter than most of your family?

Anonymous said...

Yeah I agree with sunbeam. Only the only skill I think worthwhile is the ability to count tooth picks after they have fallen on the floor.

Your comment epitomizes the bland, mediocre, bitter grouchings that have made Asia the worlds most innovative and successful continent on earth.

Nerds talking about why only nerd stuff matters is frankly what reminds people why the love picking on nerds. Because the second a nerd gets the tiniest bit of power then its his autistic way or the highway. It is delightful the way a second a nerd like Bill Gates makes it big he spends the remaining time on earth demonstrating to people he's not a nerd. Keep "changing" the world nerd and we business types will keep enjoying the spoils. Now get back in your cubicle nerd your pimples are scarring the clients.

Steve Sailer said...

As far as I can tell, everybody has always liked Michelle's big brother Craig Robinson, who is now a Division I coach.

Michelle's admission picture probably looked like this to the admissions staff:

- She's black

- We love her older brother, the best basketball player in the Ivy League and a class act, and this would make him happy. He's good friends with teammate John W. Rogers Jr. [the future financier] whose mom is the most prominent black Republican woman in the country.

- She has (pure speculation here) a recommendation letter from Jesse Jackson because she's best friends with a daughter of his. Jackson's might run for President.

- - She's middle class and won't cause the kind of unfortunate incidents that happen when we used to take underclass kids. She doesn't have money because her father has a serious chronic disease, but her brother was raised right and everything says she was too.

- She's a hard worker so she won't flunk out

- She's from the most elite public high school in Chicago, so she's been socialized to be around smart white people

Against all that

- Her test scores aren't impressive

- We're picking up vague hints that she's kind of disagreeable, but who knows about that, and, anyway it's not going to be our problem.

sunbeam said...

Anonymous said:

"Yeah I agree with sunbeam. Only the only skill I think worthwhile is the ability to count tooth picks after they have fallen on the floor.

Your comment epitomizes the bland, mediocre, bitter grouchings that have made Asia the worlds most innovative and successful continent on earth.

Nerds talking about why only nerd stuff matters is frankly what reminds people why the love picking on nerds. Because the second a nerd gets the tiniest bit of power then its his autistic way or the highway. It is delightful the way a second a nerd like Bill Gates makes it big he spends the remaining time on earth demonstrating to people he's not a nerd. Keep "changing" the world nerd and we business types will keep enjoying the spoils. Now get back in your cubicle nerd your pimples are scarring the clients.:

The problem with what you are saying is that you (just for the sake of argument we'll assume you are a business type) really are.

You are the beneficiary of a system that was set up over the course of a couple of hundred years, one that that is designed to favor you.

There is absolutely nothing special about you, or the people in New York that can't be duplicated by people in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul, Ho Ch Minh City (is it Saigon again?), Bombay, Calcutta, Rio, Athens, Berlin...

The list can go on a good long time, though it is finite.

So why are you sitting in that catbird seat? My explanation is simply inertia, and an unwillingness so far for the countries that could (China the biggest one) to change the balance of power. After all things are going ok for them right now.

You might make arguments for the "indispensable nation," or military prowess of the United States.

But thing is we aren't really like Rome. We aren't even really like the British Empire. If you've been keeping score, virtually every large scale military endeavor since Korea has been an expensive boondoggle. We have a military whose true purpose is to 1) Make money for military contractors, and 2) dispense largesse like civilian employment to voters in key regions. As a side affair, they also occasionally do the odd military job.

Well and good, but one day someone who can actually make it a fight might decide to say "Bring it." Then I think we are going to find we don't exactly have the right sort of military to deal with something like that.

Unless they will be so kind as to just make it a naval engagement. We'll win that one pretty easily, except in a couple of nasty little areas to operate that are close to a lot of places we'd like to project power (Straits of Hormuz for one).

So to my mind NY is special because it has money. But they have money because they are rich. They are rich because they have money...

Somewhere in all that is the fact that the predominant industry in NY, finance is what it is there because NY is the world's financial hub.

It doesn't have to be. Then what exactly is the difference between NY and Calcutta from a production standpoint? NY doesn't make anything but numbers and spreadsheets. Those can be made lot of places, if the world decides to do it somewhere else.

This ain't 1880. The animal spirits go up and left a long time ago. Still a pretty venal place, but if NY isn't the place to be to push numbers around, then the people in NY who work in the finance industry are going to move, or not do much at all.

I mean what can they do besides what they do? They are the ultimate hothouse plant in an environment that could change very quickly.

Only they don't seem to realize it.

Anonymous said...

Houston ISD does this kind of testing but it isn't just IQ testing, they include achievement tests. So, there are like six sections. Two are IQ, one verbal, one non verbal, and four achievement in reading, reasoning, numbers, vocabulary, etc. So, IQ and knowledge. My son had been to preschool and was pretty bright scoring 90-99 on the four parts that test learned knowledge. But on IQ, his verbal score was a 95th percentile and his non-verbal was an 18th percentile. LOL Borderline retarded! Wow, I thought, what a great parent I am that I taught that stupid kid all this stuff. Seriously though, in testing, a subject can underperform but he can't over perform. Obviously he is not actually as dumb as the IQ test would indicate. He was four years old and just didn't feel like doing whatever it was, or he needed to go pee or something.

Anonymous said...


I thought the definition of an IQ test was that it was ungameable, if you can figure out how to score higher you really are smarter.


right, but, you can be sick, or scared or need to go pee, and at four years old, you can easily underperform.

So, no, you can't game IQ tests that are asking novel questions, but you can game a test if you do know the questions. Then it is just recall. If the test prep includes the actual test items among others, then the test is only testing recall, not problem solving.

Anonymous said...


"Obama's hiding his scores and other scholastic records demonstrates that he as well as his wife* did not get to the Ivies on merit but by "pull."

What president has ever published his scholastic records?



Wrong question.

The other candidates do not hide their academic records. That is they just leave them open. That way anyone who wants to see them can. So, reporters can tell you JFK's grades, and Reagan's, and Bush's, and McCain's and Mondale's, etc. Personally Obama doesn't seem dumb. He has other flaws, but he is not dumb. He doesn't seem great with numbers, but Jimmy Carter, who actually was number/science smart was also the colossal idiot who gave away the Panama Canal. So, stupid is as stupid does.

Orlando said...

"There is absolutely nothing special about you, or the people in New York that can't be duplicated by people in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul, Ho Ch Minh City (is it Saigon again?), Bombay, Calcutta, Rio, Athens, Berlin..."

Rio? How about San Paulo? Look up their respective demographies.

Orlando said...

"We have a military whose true purpose is to 1) Make money for military contractors, and 2) dispense largesse like civilian employment to voters in key regions. As a side affair, they also occasionally do the odd military job."

You forgot keeping black hudlums out of streets (and protecting their lifes by instilling discipline). I red somewhere that a black guy in the army has 8 times bigger probability to survive his critical years.

Anonymous said...

sunbeam: "The only thing that matters is STEM. This is the only thing that changes the world. Boston ... is a faint shadow of the Bay Area."

Anonymous: "Rhetoric doesn't change the world? Charisma doesn't change the world? Marketing doesn't change the world? Moral entrepreneurship doesn't change the world?"

Perhaps I misunderstand, Anon. Are you saying that the SF Bay Area lacks rhetoric, charisma, marketing, and moral entrepreneurship?

-gopher

Anonymous said...

THIS IS SPARTODDLERA.

Anonymous said...

Gopher I am a different anon, but that anonymous poster was replying to submean's autistic cri de coeur about STEM being all that matters. Silicone Valley might very well have all those things, but that just goes to demonstrate that without those tall, clubby but intelligent business types that sunbeam envies the STEM types are just pasty pushovers.

Anonymous said...

Government shut down song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxXWjR6q5u4

Anonymous said...

Sorry, sunbeam, but those non-STEM guys on Wall Street did a pretty fair job of changing the world, even if it wasn't for the better.

Anonymous said...

We prepped our daughter for the WPPSI test, trying to get her into a gifted school. I don't know if it worked or not because we didn't establish a baseline but she ended up with around a 150 so my assumption is that it helped, at least a little.

From that experience though, I felt like I got a good idea of how the test was structured and, in my opinion, it is possible to raise a child's score through preparation, at least for kids wired the right way. Not through drill-and-kill or rote memorization, but just going through the same questions to make them feel familiar, build vocabulary and discuss concepts that you might not think to cover in daily life, (smy daughter's never seen a corded telephone or a hand mixer in real life, and on the test she could be shown a drawing of them and asked "what does this do?").

We also got her comfortable with tannegrams so that she wouldn't be using brain power trying to figure out what she's being asked to do and could just focus on doing it. The other thing was to get her used to focusing for a long (hour or more) period without giving up.

My daughter is bright and clearly gifted but doesn't seem savant like or brilliant to me, at least so far. Her real super power is endurance, she can focus for long periods on relatively boring projects without quitting and she has a good memory. Thus, the prepping may have helped her more than most. That said, it was actually fun to prep and probably not a bad use of time even if we were never going to have her tested.

Anonymous said...

http://www.deadline.com/2013/10/sean-astin-gets-political-in-kickstarter-plea/#more-601198

gloria said...

"Why do we humans have such a powerful tendency to be ashamed (or proud) of things that we have no control over? Height, penis size, amount of hair, cognitive ability (within limits)? What purpose does it serve, I wonder?"

While I weary of the frequent sinophilia that is trendy (i.e., Asians "superior" despite the entire modern world being pretty invented by Europeans in the last 500 yrs or so) but I do think some of their philosophy is superior. I read an autobio of some Chinese woman, can't recall the name, and when she was in grade school, a white kid made fun of her eyes. (Yeah, in the pre-pc days, such things did happen; they just didn't make the front pages) She thought he was being absurd because you can't help what you are born with and according to her, the Chinese wouldn't ridicule someone for their inherent looks. That's why bound feet were so prized in pre-1920s China--beauty one was born with was through no merit, but tiny feet took skill and suffering to attain.
Of course there were contraditions: they strongly preferred pale skin for women. But generally they did not prize what nature endowed; only what they worked for.

ear piece said...

"[Obamas'] IQ is probably around 120 which would put him in the top 2% of adult Americans."

Why do you think that? What has he done or said that suggests any grasp of complex matter? Nothing I've ever heard, and he's pretty much fed all his lines anyway. I think his handlers know he can't really do "complex." Neither could Reagan. I did read that Reagan's IQ was 100. Absolute average. I doubt Obama's is much higher. There's just no record of any intellectual attainment, no legal writings, nada. Until presto, 2008 or so and he's a ready-made presidential candidate getting all the help in the world. And believe me, he did.