My personal experience with Stanford University

2019-05-08 下午10.23.14

Lately it’s kind of difficult not to have heard of this. I first learned of it through WeChat (somebody posted it on Moments) I believe. And a few days ago I was talking with someone (call her X) about how social class is about culture and social connections, not money. On this, an adult who I had spoken with on this matter had responded with something like, “many of those 暴发户 (nouveau rich) thought they could buy themselves into American society but after trying (and failing) they were deeply disappointed.” There was also a time when an extremely high IQ (but idiot ABC who can’t even speak Chinese) MIT student was telling me about how if I became a billionaire, I could buy my way into the Chinese elite. He has no idea what he’s talking about, and even more ironic is how this is coming from an ABC who can’t even speak Chinese. Anyhow, X also responded with this Yusi Zhao case, which is frankly quite embarrassing for both China and Stanford.

I didn’t attend Stanford University but I’ll say that I’ve beaten Stanford students on programming contests before, not that that means much. When I was in the Bay Area, I at times would meet up with a guy who has now finished his (math) PhD there.

As for China and Stanford, I once attended some Herbert Hoover related place at Stanford, where they displayed along some other things some porcelain (almost certainly stolen/looted during the Qing Dynasty). Herbert Hoover if I remember correctly graduated as an engineer from Stanford and spent time in China near the end of the Qing Dynasty. Apparently that history/politics institute there of his name houses morons like Michael Auslin to bitch bullshit about the Chinese communist dictatorship.

As for undergrad, based on what I know, Stanford students are smart but they’re not as smart as MIT students. MIT admissions is the most meritocratic of all for undergrad in America.

Stanford obviously has top notch faculty and graduate students. I also know/knew some graduate students there who were not all that good or even depressingly mediocre but were very conformist and played the connections game right.

It seems that Stanford has had too many scandalous names pop up to hurt its reputation lately.

Like… Evan Spiegel of Snapchat with his misogynistic frat emails.

And Lucas Duplan of Clinkle.

The most embarrassing is Elizabeth Holmes.

Similarly, there was Shoucheng Zhang starting VC as a tenured physicist there and dying in the process.

Also, plenty of Stanford grads who end up only with relatively average careers. I’ve been interviewed by a Stanford PhD almost certainly highly competent (with expertise in GPUs) but who had some trouble on the job market once around 40. Also by a Stanford CS PhD merely working merely as a good engineer for certainly no more than 300k a year. I’ve seen a Stanford math PhD with top math contest credentials struggle in the Silicon Valley software engineer world after leaving academia following a postdoc.

A PhD student there I used to talk with quite a bit would complain at times about how the PhD students there are overly careerist and status driven. Which might explain partly the much-higher-than-there-should-be incidence of scandals we’ve seen lately.

Also, in Gunn High School near Stanford, there is now at least one kid killing himself (often by throwing body into the Caltrain tracks) each year.

I find this all quite sad really. I don’t think it was anything close to like this a generation ago. And this makes me scared to actually have kids. I feel that even if I become extremely rich and establish the elite connections, it would be kind of a pain in the neck to deal with this shit.

I don’t really like those high stakes winner take all incentive systems and strong class divides. Such as the VC/founder/engineer divide in Silicon Valley and the tenured/tenure-track/adjunct divide in academia. Especially when now we are at the level of seeing a tenured physics professor starting a VC firm and eventually getting shanked for it instead of actually doing what a tenured physics professor should be doing. Some people think they motivate people to work and compete harder but I question that bit. On the more negative side, they encourage a lot of nasty careerist behavior, much of which is not actually conducive to quality development.

On Zhihu, I’ve seen mathematicians with usernames Zeldovich Yakov and 张学军 criticizing the American style tenure system as encouraging dirty behavior in addition to mediocratization of research. This is something which few people really dare to openly say for political correctness reasons.

According to his writing, Zeldovich Yakov thinks the world is declining quite a bit and the economic situation since the 2008 financial crisis has been kind of shitty just about everywhere. This is similar to what Michael O Church has been saying.

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