September 8, 2006

The Scientific Method in action at UC Berkeley

A reader who is an alumnus of Boalt Hall, Berkeley's law school, forward me this email he from Boalt's dean, Chris Edley Jr., the former Clinton Administration official who crafted Clinton's

"Mend it
Don't end it"

approach to affirmative action. Since California voters passed Proposition 209 in 1996, the state constitution has banned affirmative action, which has certainly stimulated the appreciation of UC officials for creativity. They were so impressed with Edley's contribution to public policy poetry that they made him Dean. (Rumors that Edley was Berkeley's 3rd choice after Jesse Jackson and Snoop Dogg are unconfirmed.)

Edley's email refers to a study of alumni that UC is undertaking for the purpose changing admissions requirements. Judging from his description, this 5-year-long research project is so scientifically unbiased that they must have consulted with the ghosts of Galileo, Bacon, Einstein, Fisher, and Popper to make sure that it's not telegraphing what result it wants respondents to provide:

RESEARCH GOAL: Current admission methods try to predict who will get good grades in law school. The new tests try to predict who will be effective as a lawyer. Evaluating a wider range of job-oriented qualifications should select better prospective lawyers and reduce adverse impact on racial minority groups.


MCLE CREDIT OPTION: Completion of the test and self-evaluation allows two units of general self-study credit. Linked reading and quiz allows one "elimination of bias" self-study credit.

To take the test, please go to [here] Please submit your responses within two weeks of receiving this email....

RESEARCH CONTRIBUTION: Admission practices have long been criticized as too narrow, but no alternative methods have existed to assess a broader array of qualifications. Research suggests that assessing more of applicants' job-relevant abilities can also improve racial/ethnic diversity using merit-based, non race-conscious methods.

Chris Edley, Jr. Dean

Marjorie Shultz, Professor and Co-Investigator Boalt Hall School of Law

Shauna Marshall, Academic Dean Hastings College of the Law

Among those urging your participation in this research are:

Thelton Henderson, Senior Judge, U.S.D.C.
Cruz Reynoso, Justice, California Supreme Court (ret); Professor, King Hall, of Law, U.C. Davis
Joan Haratani, President, BASF; Partner, Morgan, Lewis
Kamala Harris, District Attorney, San Francisco
Andrew Giacomini, Managing Partner, Hanson,
Bridgett Maria Blanco, Executive Director, Lawyers' Committee, San Francisco

Okay, is there anybody out there who hasn't got the message yet? We didn't want to have to spell it out too explicitly but some of you numbskulls don't seem too clear on the concept of what this "study" is supposed to "discover." In a nutshell:

- Successful white guy alumni -- We don't want to hear from you. Buzz off. Capisce?

Minority alumni -- Go ahead, make stuff up. Tell us you're Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. What? Do you think we're going to check?

In case you are wondering how unbiased "co-investigator" Marjorie Shultz is, here's from her bio on the website of the Berkeley Women's Law Journal:

With 6 others, she recently coauthored a book on American race policy (Whitewashing Race: the Myth of a Color Blind Society (UC Press, 2003) and is a co-Principal Investigator on a five year empirical research project to develop predictors of lawyering competence that could play a role in law school admissions decisions. Such factors would make it possible for law schools to use broader criteria than the purely academic indicators (LSAT and UGPA) that currently dominate admissions decisions...

Professor Shultz has been active on women's issues since the early 1970's when she was active in women's political and legal organizations such as the National Women's Political Caucus and the Women's Education for Delegate Selection during the 1972 presidential nominating process. She testified at hearings held by State Senator Jackie Speier on the dramatic drop in hiring of women faculty within the UC System after the adoption of proposition 209. Ms. Shultz currently serves on the Board of Directors for Equal Rights Advocates, a women's rights law firm in San Francisco.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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