What’s wrong with the Ivy League

Very recently, a Chinese-American Yale undergrad cold emailed me expressing approval of this blog, and we not long after began to talk regularly.

A few days ago, in an email to Steve Hsu, me, and some others, he wrote:

I think the Ivy League is best understood as a giant money-making organism. Attached to it like a leech is a seminary for training priests and spreading the gospel of the American progressive religion. Attached to that leech is an even smaller leech which actually contains smart people doing good technical work. And gmachine1729 is right that the average Ivy student is not that great (but the top end does represent the best of the best).

Relatedly, I just saw an essay on Zhihu in Chinese by Yale finance professor Zhiwu Chen on the matter of 中国人那么优秀,为什么美国人还是更喜欢印度人?(Chinese are so exceptional, why do Americans still like Indians more). The essay was one of Chinese are smart and hardworking but modest, passive, conformist, filially pious per the Confucian tradition and emphasize hard skills at the expense of soft skills, while Indians, like Americans, are assertive and confident with strong leadership qualities. The comments, of which there were 27, were mostly dismissive. The first one, and the most memorable one was


In translation,

Can’t you better understand the situation by comparing Chairman Mao with Gandhi?

I’m very happy to see this. It means that Chinese are no longer dazed by Ivy League credentials. They are beginning to think more independently, to have more confidence in themselves. Maybe in another decade’s time, non-STEM professor at Ivy will become an explicit negative signal among Chinese in China.