Harvard’s discrimination against Asian-Americans

It was revealed last week or so that Harvard systematically rates Asian-Americans lower on personality, on subjective traits such as “positive personality,” likability, courage, kindness and being “widely respected.” I’m not surprised at all by this. Though they could have at least been a bit smarter about this by keeping this shit off the record. Now the investigators could actually reveal something about their process to the public that would undermine the institution’s credibility.

Though I am an Asian-American, I will not try to pretend. It’s so far for Harvard’s institutional interests more or less rational to do what they’re doing. Asian-Americans have very little power and influence over the institution. Sure, there is no shortage of prominent Asian-Americans professors at Harvard, mostly in STEM, but they don’t actually have all that much influence over the institution, and are mostly being used by the institution to advance its own academic reputation. The same goes for being an Asian academic undergrad admit (who can, say, win a high place for Harvard at the Putnam Contest). There is also the implicit assumption that because Asians face race-related disadvantages in the career game, especially in the corporate world, due to unconscious bias, lack of ethnic affinity networks, etc, they should be penalized, as future career success, of a form not perceived as too threatening to the current elite, is crudely what admissions is optimizing for. So, life is not fair, get used to it, and do the little that you can to try to make things more fair (or more in your favor).

I’ve actually seen some not actually very talented Asian-Americans without hooks who did make it to HYP under very striverish behavior. They played the game of try hard resume optimization, of appearing less Asian. The thing is that most of those people end up not well at all after graduation. Don’t think that HYP guarantees a good job. There is no guarantee is today’s world. Those people did too little in terms of developing actually employable skills. What they got by playing the college admissions game was essentially a pyrrhic victory. Actually competent state school kids do much better than them in the workplace. So, don’t be stupid like that.

Even many actually smart Asian-American HYP grads don’t do all that great. A common outcome is a merely solid engineer at a respected technology company. Some go to a top grad school, but success much depends on the field. Academia has very few openings nowadays, though for engineering, due to industrial demand, it is much less competitive than math or science. A common route of course for the really technically exceptional is quant finance, though those positions tend to be taken by immigrants, who generally undergo a much more rigorous STEM education with less distraction compared to what Asian-Americans receive. The thing is that so many people are irrationally desperate to attend an elite school. Some middle class parents will burn a fortune to send their kid to some fancy prep school full of rich kids, where they easily end up at the bottom half of the school’s social hierarchy, let alone for an elite university. They lose sight of the fact that in many if not most cases, major determines what you do much more than school. There are many cases of these try hards wasting much time, money, and stress for nothing.

Like it or not, America is still very much a white country. Asian-Americans can and should try, but they shouldn’t realistically expect equality. If Chinese parents really want their son to become a lawyer or politician, they should probably stay in China. It’ll be hard there as well, but your odds of success will be probably at least an order of magnitude higher than in America. Here, I use only the male qualification of child in light of how “on average, Asian American women received higher personal ratings and extracurricular ratings than Asian American men.”[3] This is, of course, consistent with what goes on in the real world as well. And it is expected, considering how historically, sexism and racism have always gone together.

A while ago, I wrote on here a rather cynical (or whatever you call it) piece in Chinese regarding elite US schools, which to my pleasant surprise a Chinese international of my acquaintance who attended Harvard commented on affirmatively. Its title has somewhat of a sensationalist provocative vibe to it, translated to English as “American elite universities as a political tool for brainwashing and uplifting (pseudo) elite of Chinese descent.” Of course, I have more or less the highest regard for the STEM being done at these top American institutions, though maybe it is a bit overrated. Much of the humanities and social science coming from those places I find quite questionable though, and that goes along with the cultural and political values fostered by these institutions. On that, I brought up how the former unsuccessful regime of China, the Republic of China, was led and run largely by Chinese graduates of Ivies of their time, who were but superficially Westernized and modernized Chinese. Despite their graduating from these elite schools, they lost the civil war and failed to modernize China, though perhaps that also had much to do with their being in the wrong time. Certainly though, many of the elite Chinese who played prominent roles in China’s modernization from the 50s on did advanced study in STEM in these top American schools. I’ll say that from my experience, it certainly does seem that these schools tend to select for Asians whose social and political viewpoints, often not very grounded on reality, tend to fit them into the aforementioned category, like Jeff Yang, with whom Steve Hsu had a debate. This is of course part of the pattern of American elites’ desire to bring elites of other countries into their circle, in a sufficiently subordinate position. On this, I’ll say how I’ve read comments on how over past half century or so, affirmative action by Harvard and other Ivies has won for American elites not only (a facade of) charity but also cultural and ethnic representatives to advance their interests in, say, African countries. For that, Harvard was useful as a binding force. Surely, Harvard has always played a quintessential role in persisting the rule and influence of the current American elite throughout the world, and like it or not, kissing the ruler’s ass is almost always the easiest way to rise up on the social ladder. In Chinese, to be America’s dog is spoken of as pejorative, but so what, there were and are too many small countries willing to do so, because it brings them, their elites in particular, much economic and political benefit.

Asians tend to be pretty obsessed with prestige. Chinese are very, and Koreans are especially so. In the 80s and 90s and 00s, a degree from a prestigious or good American school was much an upper mobility ticket in China. Now, this is much less so, because there are too many such Chinese now, and also maybe because people in China have increasingly realized that maybe these people aren’t actually all that good, in spite of their brand-name American school. A PhD from MIT from China once told me that now in China, companies are increasingly reluctant to hire “sea turtles;” you have to pay them more, when more often than not, you can find a local guy who can do the job as well or better for much less. This is a sign of devaluation of elite American institutions, and I believe this will continue, given the relatively low level of STEM education and preparation in America (which is impossible to hide to any actually smart, scientifically literate person) along with America’s overall decline.

The short-sighted and personally motivated decisions of the intellectually mediocre and politically delusional American elite over the past generation are, cumulatively, really taking its toll now, on the American economy and the credibility of its ruling class. Their elite institutions, nepotistic and corrupt in its admissions, are losing the public’s trust and alienating Asian-Americans especially, many of whom moved to a foreign country speaking little English with too much blind faith in the so-called American Dream that they sought for themselves and more so for their children. American elites may have thought that they themselves could neglect STEM, that there are plenty of talented foreigners, many of whom Asian, willing to do those jobs indefinitely, often grossly under-compensated and with their American-born, American-raised kids facing higher hurdles in education and at work. This might have been so decades ago, when in their home countries, there was still lack of economic opportunity for smart people. Nowadays, there is a booming and internationally competitive high technology sector in China, with India going that direction as well, in spite of brain drain into America. Collectively, the STEM expertise has over time not only grown itself but transformed into significant leverage for the group, so much that the elites running Harvard need to resort to rogue tactics to preserve themselves. I don’t exactly blame them. It’s just like how people who go the bullshit business and social climbing route do so largely to compensate for their inherent intellectual deficit; at least to me, that’s never a pleasant or honorable position to be in. But what else can you do, if not to accept defeat? I can already foresee such an entrenched group fighting desperately for its own survival. Harvard will do all that it can to get away with what it’s doing right now amidst much backlash. And it’s an extraordinary rich, powerful, well-connected institution, much able to manipulate the outcomes. Either they win, or they reform themselves accordingly, or they become slowly sidelined. We’ll see. I just hope they don’t resort to even nastier tactics. Though that tends to happen when power and survival is at serious risk.


[1] http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2018/06/harvard-office-of-institutional.html

[2] http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2018/06/harvard-office-of-institutional_21.html

[3] http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-lee-harvard-legacy-student-advantage-20180622-story.html

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gekcNqlHptM

On Russia and Russians

I was told yesterday by that uber pro-American anti-communist American Jew that American liberals actually hate Russia more than they hate China. I was surprised. He said that this is seldom realized, and that

if you compared xi to putin people would consider that offensive even
people have a double standard against white countries when it comes to human rights

So, the logic is because Russia is white, they should be held to higher standards for human rights and democracy, and the extent to which Russia is “freer” (than China, which blocks Google and Facebook and is still a one-party totalitarian state) is not enough to offset the differentiated standard.

I don’t get it, why are Western liberals so intent on hating Russia, why why why? Because Russia is such a threat to their world domination? (The USSR is gone and there’s basically zero hope of Russia recovering to that level, but that’s apparently not enough.) I had also heard that in the UK it’s the Russians, not the Muslims, who are most resented, for being tall, blonde, and alpha and taking the tech jobs. It’s another one of those they’re hated for being too good. Russians being good attracts more resentment than admiration, they must have failed politically somewhere.

From my experience working, observing, reading, and interacting, it does seem like Russians are technically extremely powerful. Of course, the ones here in America are a select group. At a place where I worked, there was this big Russian guy who was quite an ubermensch programmer doing much of the technical heavy-lifting. He was also a higher up in the company, though not terribly high up, and it took him some time in officially low ranking positions (where I’m sure he contributed a ton) to get there. There is good reason to believe the pattern of Russians being ranked (much) lower in American tech companies relative to their ability and contribution, given how political promotion and performance reviews are, and the extent to which salary is determined by one’s “circumstances.” There seem to be very few Russians high up in corporate America, despite their ability. On this, I can’t help but think: could it be that the American elite only wants them to do the hard technical work (where they contribute much more than they get) and find them too threatening to allow into positions of power? It seems though that as a group, they’re more or less accepting of this treatment, content with a very intellectually stimulating job. My Russian friends tells me that very few go back due to lack of opportunity, notwithstanding that Russia has Yandex (which was, curiously, founded before Google) and vKontakte, and its own military ecosystem.

I know that there is the widely stereotype that Russians are smart and really creative, while Chinese are smart but lack spark. There is some truth to that as far as I can tell. On TopCoder and CodeForces and at the ACM ICPC, all of which I’ve participated in, with mixed success, the Chinese still cannot beat the Russians, even when they seem to try really hard. Petr was superhuman, and ACRush, while also an ubermensch, was still a notch below Petr. Though ACRush, with his Chinese connections, has started his own self-driving car company, while Petr is still working for Google. CodeForces, created by Russians, is now much better maintained and consequently more popular across the world to competitive programmers.

I’ve observed that Russians are not as obsessed about prestigious schools here in the US as Chinese are. Plenty of really smart ones only attend state schools, to save money, and also maybe because the elite schools discriminate against them too, because their being Russian and worse connected in American society would be a disadvantage for them in the career world.

From what I’ve seen, Russians are very well-rounded too, actually smart and capable in all respects. Even in athletics, they’re feared and targeted (with reference to the Olympic ban). This might mean that they’re not very good at putting on a stupid smile and going along with all the stupid bullshit that goes on in this society. If they’re this good, maybe they instead of being taken advantage of by American capitalists who only want to extract as much as they can out of them for as little as they can get away with should build their own technology and institutions in Russia, where they actually end up having ownership. They did that in the USSR days (but bad luck and stupid political decisions blew it all away), maybe they should continue to do so.

To conclude, I’ll say that I’ve heard that “Russians/Eastern Europeans get macho and that leads to individualism/isolation in the workplace.” Maybe because they’re pissed that they (the ones in America are some of the best and brightest) have to answer to idiots who they have a hard time pretending to respect.

On credentialism and selection systems

I’ve mentioned before that an Asian-American friend of mine, who is quite smart, disapproves of the whole campaign against Asian quotas spearheaded, or at least advocated, by Steve Hsu and others.

His words are the following:

  1. I don’t believe in legitimizing the credentialist culture of modern academia
  2. I don’t generically feel much kinship with Asian-Americans (who are the most affected by purported discrimination in admissions), even if I might feel more kinship with them on average than I would with any other large ethnic group in America (which is itself not necessarily true)
  3. I don’t find it implausible that there are legitimate reasons to discriminate against Asian-Americans in the admissions process, if by ‘discriminate’ we mean ‘weigh their formal accomplishments less than one would for a member of a different race’
  4. At the end of the line, I believe that persistent whining about this is a reflection of emotional immaturity on the part of Steve et al., in that they seem to have a ‘chip on their shoulder’ which they are incapable of overcoming, and if they were actually taking a principled approach, they would come together and try to create a superior alternative to the radically broken university system, which will likely not be saved by any infusion of Asian students

Here’s what I think.

On 1), I don’t like the credentialism culture of modern academia either. Much of it is a superficial and soulless arms race. Not that grades, test scores, publications, citations, impact factor aren’t strong signals but they are prone to manipulation and artificial inflation, and that there are qualities of work not well-captured by those metrics. People are more or less compelled to single-mindedly play this game, often at the expense of actually substantial scholarship, if they are to survive in academia nowadays.

On 2), I hate to say that this country has become more toxically consumed by identity politics over the years, not to mention that people are judged at least subconsciously by who one is associated with. So collective bargaining is crucial for a group’s position on the status hierarchy.

On 3), there is that due to Asian-Americans’ and Asians in general having traditionally been the underdog, as well as their lack of media presence, which is intimately tied to the alienness of their names in the Western linguistic context, some people are inclined to view Asians are grinds who aren’t actually as capable as they might appear on paper. Especially with the whole tiger mother phenomenon that Amy Chua popularized with her infamous book. Of course, China’s rise over the recent years has altered this perception somewhat, especially the one that Asians are smart but not creative, though surely, it does seem that controlling for grades and test scores, or IQ, Asians do seem less creative, though that may be due to environmental factors, such as de facto or implicit quotas imposed by diversity mandates and economic circumstances.

On 4), I mostly disagree. Asian-Americans don’t really have the power to create a sufficiently credible alternative in a world that runs so heavily on associating with prestigious, usually long-established, institutions like Harvard and Goldman-Sachs. In their ancestral countries, China and India, Asians can improve the university and research system and the economic and technological competitiveness of the country as a whole, so as to make their universities more credible as well. In America, all Asian-Americans can really do is make more noise around the issue to exert more pressure on the elite universities, and also donate more and enhance their media and political presence as their socioeconomic position improves, especially at the elite end, improves, so that the elite universities perceive themselves as having more to lose from discriminating against Asian-Americans based on race.

This is all I have to say as pertains exclusively to Asian-Americans. I shall now give my thoughts on credentialism and selection in general.

The job of admissions and hiring committees and HR is astronomically harder than in the pre-internet age. So many people apply for positions they are grossly under-qualified for, now that it’s so easy to shoot off a resume or application online. There are, of course, application fees for college and grad schools, but they are not enough to deter. This means in the selection process can be afford now significantly less time per candidate, and one can argue that as a consequence, the process becomes more bureaucratic and easier to game. Often, people will in the pre-screening stage eliminate all applicants who do not meet certain formal criteria, such as minimum GPA/test scores or a certain degree from a certain set of sufficiently credible universities. In the case of academia, to my limited second-hand knowledge, committees will look at publications lists with a focus on citation count and impact factor of the journals on which the papers were published and also verify the candidate against senior, tenured faculty in the same or at least similar area of research. In the case of industry jobs, what matters more is the interview, where for technical roles, technical questions will be asked to further test the technical aptitude and knowledge, as well as, the softer aspects of communication and personal chemistry. For non-technicals, I can only say it’s even more about credentials (school, companies, job titles, dates of employment) and how you present yourself. I can only conclude that way more energy is expended now in aggregate on application and selection than before, which is quite costly really. In the career world, people are mostly out for themselves and don’t really care about wasting other people’s time, so long as they can get away with it with impunity more or less.

I’ll say that there is a tradeoff between optimizing for one’s formal credentials and optimizing for one’s actual ability and knowledge. One loses out so much more now if one neglects the former too much due to more competition per position. Surely, there has been gross inflation of credentials. This is in its crudest form epitomized by college’s having become the new high school, thereby rendering prestige of institution a stronger signal. Furthermore, the largely consequent grade inflation and watering down of coursework has added more noise to school transcripts. Contest training, for math in particular, has become so much more popularized, that to not have credentials in those raises questions in some circles, and moreover, there is so much more of an obstacle course of summer programs and scholarships and grants and internships and jobs which one must pass through to some degree if one wants a reasonable chance of success at a specified level. In this sense, there is more pressure to conform to an existing, often complexity-ridden system. It may well be that people nowadays are not all that much better in terms of knowledge and proficiency than before, correcting for the positive effects of technology on learning, but they actually put in much more time and effort.

Now, if one expends much energy on actual substance, there is concern as to what would be lost if those translate not into formal credentials. Arguably more common is the other way round, where one turns into a soulless credential-chasing machine. I’ve been amazed at how many people manage to achieve much higher grades, test scores, and awards than what their knowledge and ability from interaction with them would reasonably indicate. Those people tend to be very boring and risk-averse, and they are often the types our current system selects for, like it or not.

I used to feel like to prove that one is actually smart, at least in STEM, one ought to do sufficiently well in one of those major math, physics, or computing olympiads or contests. I would say that for raw technical ability, that is probably still the strongest signal. Grades are somewhat noisy, because it’s not hard to copy or snipe homework solutions, and for tests, there is a large cramming and figuring out what’s gonna be on the test component. Perhaps they are more consequentially so as there are also some genuinely capable or even brilliant students who for related personality reasons have a hard time getting themselves to care too much about grades. I’ve personally seen some high GPA people, even in college, who signal in what they say or write complete idiocy that would make you wonder if they were pretending stupid, especially if said person were female. Some people learn much more deeply and also much more broadly, outside of what the system teaches them, to a high level of retention, much of which is not captured through any formal credential. From my personal experience, tests of a wide range of knowledge, sufficiently substantial but not too esoteric, are stronger signals since they cannot be crammed for, but they are, for the difficulty of organization, seldom administered.

In the real world and in academia though, what matters is the ability to deliver actual projects and conduct meaningful research, and those, while correlated with ability to learn, are not quite the same. Those are also way more context-dependent, which means more noise, both due to more variance and more ambiguity of judgment.

I will say that at times or even often, society is met with the problem of people finagling themselves into a position to judge what they are not really qualified to, per their ability and expertise, which means some resume-padding bozos rising up and actual competents being passed over. This problem I believe has been accentuated by the ever more credentialist culture that has emerged over the recent years. What’s kind of sad is how the more conformism and risk-aversion rises, the more these traits are pressured and selected for.

I’ve come to notice that there tends to be some difference between maverick genius and the conformist first-rate professional. If one looks at history, real genius, the ones who create paradigm shifts, tends to have more very lopsided profiles, though surely, it might go too far to say that *most* of the real geniuses were out of it in a Stallman or Galois like fashion, especially as it’s the deranged ones which garner more attention. But one can say with high level of confidence that there were many real geniuses who had a hard time fitting in even into the elite mainstream of his profession, who have even been marginalized. I’ve been told that the real genius mathematicians like Perelman, Langlands, and Shimura more or less cut contact with the mathematical community apparently out of disgust. There is also evidence that plenty would-be real geniuses did not actually make it, with their enormous potential having been thwarted by the system at some point and hardly realized. In an ideal world that optimizes for collective value, if somebody else can do the job much better than you and actually really wants to, you should let him do the job and get out of his way. Of course, reality is far from that. I have personally felt that way with regard to my mathematical ability, often feeling that I wasn’t good enough when I failed to derive something on my own, yet I see so many people worse than I am even so eager to play the whole credentialist game without recognizing how deficient they really are. This suggests that I am very partial towards a certain side of the spectrum. I even feel that in some sense, nothing is more embarrassing then formally being much higher than what one’s ability actually merits, since it demonstrates not only incompetence but poor character. However, I am, regrettably, or not, feeling that circumstances are pressuring me ever more towards the opposite direction.

On manipulating perceptions

My thoughts on the importance of perception management, in addition to actually being good, by way of a chat log.

dude I think the jewish domination of liberal media is just IQ
if white americans are 100 SD 15, ashkenazim are 115 SD 15
Then if you look at 130+
In the US you have a 30:1 ratio but among 130+ you would expect like
dude like 1/3 of the 130+ whites in the US are jews
jewish verbal is probably even > 115 since spatial is lower
also they are coastal and liberal
lol you idiot it has much to do with personality socioeconomics culture too
which leads to more representation
yeah i’m saying that
coastal and liberal
already on the 2:1
updating more
Lol also if Jewish verbal is so high why are Asians beating them at PSAT/SAT
Read Myth of American Meritocracy by Unz
link me the stats
I read it
He has stats there
have you read Janet Mertz takedown
Yes I’ve skimmed through that
Unz overestimates harvard % jewish
and underestimates other things
Sure he probably does a little
math olympiad % jewish
wait like half the white people at mop are jewish
like half
Since it can be hard to tell by surname
dude I think chinese americans have a massive
verbal IQ
way higher than of mainland china
maybe even higher than ashkenazim
But they haven’t been here long enough
like Jews in the 50s
also a lot of them are not interested
in verbal professions
how trainable is verbal SAT?
I agree the trainability of the SAT is overstated by people but cramming vocab is totally a thing, no
I dont trust unz statistics at all lol
Lol because Chinese-Americans know that verbal careers like law are rigged against them
So many strong ones are hesitant to enter
There’s a cultural affinity aspect to that as well
chinese prefer medicine or law
I think a lot of it also is that a society with a functional legal system is alien to most chinese people 😛
once I asked zuming whether china had a legal system
his response: No
Haha he’s both right and wrong
but yeah law is jewish
but I mean jews are not pulling the strings or anything
they are smart verbally
And they tend to be coastal and liberal
The tribe is not jews, it’s coastal liberals
130+ secular coastal liberals are like half jewish
but they dont think of themselves as jewish but as secular coastal liberals
like NYT columnists are half jewish
because 130+ secular costal liberals in the US are half jewish
Lol lol
if you add the adjective new york
secular new york coastal liberals
it’s a majority easily
NYT columnists
like manhattan is 20% jewish
NYT is full of garbage
its pretty reliable
Sometimes they call Rouhani a “moderate” and I wince – he’s certainly better than ahmadenijad, but he’s no moderate … “pragmatist” is the right word
You really need to broaden your horizons lol
See politically, the Anglo world is setting the standards right now
yes, I very much enjoy not living in a society with sesame credit
sesame credit?
I don’t even know what that is
china could become an orwellian state
Oh that
isn’t that great
Orwellian state what does that even mean
It’s just this phrase for evil regime coined by the Anglo media based on the works of an Anglo writer, that’s all.
I’ve read 1984 and Animal Farm
They’re pretty good
Very hyperbolic of course, as is much media
I actually exchanged briefly with Unz
Maybe I should ask him about what he thinks of Jews being subsumed into the white category in these racial classifications
What do you think of these IQ tests as actual measures of real, biological intelligence
They are very noisy for sure
Especially verbal, because exposure to language varies widely
on an individual level
on a group level good
they are measuring something important
Whether it’s 100% genetic I dont know
I doubt it
Lol when most Chinese kids’ parents don’t know English all that well
Heck I’m even unfamiliar with some of the more colloquial English language
People viewed me as funny for it in school
what do you think about steven pinker
he’s one of my favorite people
No opinion of him
Also those tests are noisy predictors of actual ability on real things as well from my observation
The discrimination against Asians in admissions right now is likely partially premised on the perception that their test scores inflate their actual ability due to prep.
There is still the perception that Asians do well in school but don’t go on to do great things
Again it’s only a perception
Being good and being perceived as good are far from perfectly correlated.
I think there is discrimnation against asians
for being recent
for being perceived as grade grubbers
Yeah they’re also not rich or well-connected.
this perception is not wholly unjustified ofc
yeah also that
i am strongly opposed to ivy asian quotas
There is resistance towards Asians becoming successful in America
It’s a white country after all
Anyhow, I think in a matter of time, the best young people in China will come here for grad school less and less.
America will become a place for China to send its second-rates.
I’ve written that China needs to get better at marketing
china gives 0 shits about academics
it’s way too right wing to care about academics
too right wing?
And I’ve read on Zhihu that in recent years, the Chinese who studied math in France have turned out better than the ones who came to US for grad school.
that’s about france vs US
not china vs US
Lol math I think the best young people will still study abroad for a while.
There’s also engineering
Plenty of that China does well now.
I think in actual STEM ability/competence, China/Chinese still have much room for improvement, but now, they’re not bad, and the potential is there, with trends in favor of them.
It’s the whole game of manipulating perceptions that will take longer
Due to cultural difference and inertia
In that regard, it’s already been massively successful in just the last five years if you think about it
The media portrayal in the West has already drastically changed.
For instance, dismissiveness of Chinese tech companies is metamorphizing into fear.
I’m not gonna argue whether or not it’s gone to the other extreme
People can have different opinions on that
In any case, I don’t think China has transitioned to foundational innovator, that’ll take a while, but the increasing level of sophistication combined with the scale is certainly very formidable.
China still relies on US companies for its semiconductors/chips. She has not created a viable ecosystem for its homegrown ones yet. But that could well happen in a decade.
Then US will have even less bargaining chip.
Now, China can easily get away with what it’s doing to Taiwan largely because it is so much stronger economically, technologically, and militarily.
jack ma is a smart guy
but I mean
Nobody wants to piss off the powerful, because there’s much to lose.
china’s system doesnt make too much room for jack ma and yitang zhang
The lack of political freedom is a big obstacle here
Lol Jack Ma isn’t smart IQ wise
Struggled to get into a college
He has other qualities
The lack of political freedom is a big problem for innovation
Elaborate on that one 
Name a totalitarian society that was innovative
Germany under the Kaiser wasn’t really totalitarian
all their jewish scientists moved to america and israel
ussr had good academics, certainly
Because they prevented them from leaving
They didn’t have much in the way of tech
Uh, Sputnik?
low tech
very low tech
your cell phone is better
there won’t be a chinese steve jobs
Sure computer technology they were behind, because semi-conductors and integrated circuits were invented in America
Lol Steve Jobs is mostly marketing 
chinese bill gates
And what you say about Sputnik is ridiculous
First satellite in orbit
That was back in 1957 silly
You don’t think Ren Zhengfei is as impressive as Steve Jobs?
So much of the global telecommunications infrastructure
Now their phones, which US is banning.
Lol what if China once it has the resources starts a huge propaganda/PR war
You bitch about totalitarianism
China has a ton of young people with nothing to do.
Have them troll the YouTube comments, drown out all the anti-communist Chinese.
Numbers do matter
The Chinese government could also incentivize more people in the West to start blogs supportive of Chinese ideology.
Try to buy out US media outlets
You don’t think China once it is advantaged in resources can start playing the game of manufacturing consent as well

More on Asian admissions

Yesterday, I met this kid who just entered UC Berkeley for undergraduate. I had known him when I was a kid through friends of parents, though of course, when you’re a kid that kind of age gap disallows much meaningful social interaction. I vividly remember senior year of high school in my Spanish class, we were in the school library computer lab doing some project with a partner, and on the front page of the school district, there was news that this kid won a state math competition. I immediately said to my partner: “I know that kid!” And yesterday, he told me that he made AIME in 8th grade, and also later the USAJMO, which shows that he is highly gifted, perhaps more so than I am.

His dad, who is also a super interesting and humorous guy, told me that his son felt volunteering to put on resume for college applications is complete bullshit. I think the same. Whether or not to do it, to game the silly system, is another question. I thought: wise men think alike.

On this, I recall reading this article by a guy with the surname Mak (Cantonese, not so obviously Asian, unlike say “Ma”) about how he pretended not to be Asian deliberately for all four years of high school in order to get into Yale, which he did. He eventually regretted it deeply, as he expressed in his article.

It is quite sad that the discrimination has brought Asians to such desperate straights, to the mark of overtly rejecting their heritage to appease the white admissions officers who judge them. This is price of being the “model minority.” I don’t even think that works very well in the long run. The plum positions not requiring real skills obtained through connections will still go to the rich well connected WASP kids. For most of us, it would be more worthwhile to develop some real, hard employable skills, even if it means not going to an elite school.

I am angry that Asians are being used as pawns in America. I am angry that Asians here have to grow up hearing all these negative stereotypes which affect their self-esteem and steer them in questionable directions. I encourage Asians not to buy into this BS and know for a fact that American society systemically discriminates against them and deal with it both with the realism that it is there and will likely be slow to change, which means acting prudently with respect to their career prospects, and also to make some effort to fight back against it in a way that does not jeopardize them much. Asians are generally pretty reasonable. They do not demand beyond their ability, beyond what they’ve contributed. If anything, Asians are too passive in this regard, especially in America, where they are very much an invisible minority.

It is disgusting that elite American institutions at the undergraduate level are a mechanism for uplifting the Asians they view as likely to be spineless lackeys for the American WASP-dominated elite agenda in such an egregious way. It is expected behavior of course, but it is done so unabashedly so as to make it vile in its very nature. It degrades the credibility of American elite institutions and America at large to a group who have roots in one of the most economically vibrant areas on earth, a group that contributes enormously to America’s competitive and leading position in science, technology, and economics.

My final word to Asians in America. Be more daring in your ambition and individual pursuits, and at the same time realistic about what people have to offer. Asians are often told in America that they are tools, drones, not creative, and that they are “deferential to authority.” If so, why is it that China has arguably the richest revolutionary tradition and history of the 20th century, producing so many who fought fearlessly and relentlessly against oppressors, against old, outdated traditions, for a system more in tune with the modern world that eventually enabled China to thrive, in the face of powerful opponents? If so, why is it that there are so many Asians at or near the top of mathematics and theoretical physics, fields with arguably the deepest and most vibrant of thinkers, when the past generations were disadvantaged in their access to opportunities and material circumstances? If so, why is it that Japanese anime and video games are so popular across the world? My generation of Asians, unlike the previous ones, have substantially more economic resources at our disposal, and as a corollary, we can afford to care less about what other people think and follow more of our inner heart. With this, it may well be that in the next generation, those who continue on with such stereotypes of Asians will be seen as no more than a laughing stock.

More on Asian stereotypes

I just stumbled upon this wonderful essay by Gwydion Madawc Williams on why the Ming voyages led by Zheng He (郑和) led to nothing. The quote of it particularly memorable to me was this:

The separation of craft and education as represented by China’s illiterate shipwrights was indeed a genuine weakness in the Chinese system.  Christian Europe always remembered that St Peter had been a fisherman and St Paul a tent-maker, and it was quite acceptable for learned people to also be involved in manufacturing.  The weakness of Confucianism was not so much that it rated agriculture and craft above merchant trade, but that it insisted on the educated being a learned caste distanced from all of these matters.

Again, it’s the Asian stereotype of being a study hard grind lacking in practical, hands-on skills and “well-roundedness” and “social skills” and all that that admissions officers use to justify denying Asian applicants. I’ll say that from what I know, that is still very limited, Confucianism was very much like that. The quote that epitomized this was: 劳心者治人,劳力者治于人, which translates to roughly “the worker of the mind governs, the physical worker is governed.” The whole imperial examination system essentially created an upper class of bookworms for whom any form of hands on labor was beneath. To be a true 君子, gentlemen, you were supposed to study the classics and write poetry and engage in all that Confucian bull shit. I myself don’t have a very high opinion of Confucianism. It’s too conservative for me, with all the emphasis on ritual and filial piety. It discouraged any form of innovation outside the system, outside what was already there, which is partly why China could not make the giant leaps in science that the West did. I’ve read some of the Analects of Confucius and know some of the quotes, and I don’t think Confucius was a deep philosopher at all; there is little actual substance in what he said. On the other hand, Mo Tzu was a much further reaching, more scientific, and surprisingly modern thinker, and had China followed his path instead of banishing his school of thought into obscurity, the world would be completely different now, with China likely having made many more leaps of progress than it had actually done. I’ll say that the West was able to escape the shackles of Christianity, but China could not by itself escape those of Confucianism, until its dire situation, with reached its nadir in 1900, forced it too.

Apparently, the elite college admissions officers aren’t terribly good at filtering out the real Asian grinds either, as I know one who went to Princeton, who I found ridiculous. He said that all he did in college was study, and even though he majored in math, he hardly knew any. Like, he didn’t know what a topological space is. When I went ice skating with him and some others, he was near the edge the whole time, and he characterized my skating backwards (not well at all) as “scary.” I told him I’m not very athletic and wasn’t even any good, unlike the girl he was dating at that time, who could do spins among other fancy “figure skating” things she was trying out. I did show him the video taken of this 360 somersault I did off a 15 feet cliff in Hawaii, into the water, which was the first time I had done anything like that. He was like: “that’s so scary.” I honestly didn’t know what to say. To justify himself, he was like: “Chinese parents only want their kids to study.” I told him that in China, there are some very athletic people who attend special sports schools. On that, he was like: “but those aren’t normal people.” I also remember when we went camping once, everybody else got drunk, so I got to drive that kid’s BMW back. He had told us that his father does business in Beijing, which might explain why he drives that kind of car. He came to US at age 4. His Chinese is absolutely awful though, and he doesn’t realize it. He will of course say: “I already know enough. Some people can’t even speak it.” 怎么说那,不仅是个书呆子,而且是个书都读不好的书呆子,连这样的sb还都被Princeton录取了。I’ve talked with one of my very smart Asian friends about this, and he was like: “but he’s socially normal, unlike us.” And more recently: “Maybe they do accept Asian grinds, just not the ones with bad social skills.”

From what I’ve seen, there are plenty of super conformist Asian grinds like him, but there are also many who aren’t, who are actually smart and interesting, like myself (or at least I hope). I think what he said about Chinese parents is somewhat true actually; after all, I saw many growing up. They do see academics as a way to get ahead more so than others, largely because in China, to get out of your rural village and/or not be stuck with a working class job, you had to do sufficiently well on the gaokao to get into a good major at a good university. It’s funny that I’ve actually seen a ton of ignorant, narrow-minded, and risk-averse uncool tiger Chinese parents. And I have also seen some extremely impressive ones, not just academically. There is again quite a wide range and variety.

There is a phenomenon I’ve witnessed, which is that if a person is extremely strong at X and merely above average at Y, then that person will seem weak at Y, even compared to another person about as good at Y but less lopsided. It seems a natural human cognitive bias to think this way. This is in fact applied rather perversely to Asians in stereotyping. For example, Asian students are perceived as weak at language and humanities because they are generally stronger at STEM. We all know that in fact math IQ and verbal IQ (which we can use crudely as proxies for STEM ability and humanities ability respectively) are highly correlated, which makes it highly unlikely that a STEM star is actually legitimately weak at humanities. He might not be interested in reading novels and such but that’s rather different. There is also that humanities is more cultural exposure loaded with a much higher subjective element to it, with much less of a uniform metric. It actually seems to me based on personal experience that is by no means representative that in terms of precise use of language and the learning of foreign languages, mathematicians and theoretical physicists are at or near the top in terms of ability. On this, I will give an opposing perspective that I identify with somewhat, which is that even if you’re very strong at Y, having an X that you are significantly more talented at is a weakness for Y, because engaging in Y deprives the joy derived from engaging in the X, which often leads to loss of interest over time. Maybe this is why employers shy from hiring people who they deem “overqualified?” On this, I have thought of how possibly the lopsided cognitive profile in East Asians (with what is likely at least 2/3 SD differential between math/visuo-spatial and verbal, normalizing on white European scores) predisposed the thinking of the elite (assuming that lopsidedness is preserved at the far tail) as well as the development of that society at large in certain ways, some of which may have been not the most conducive for, say, the development of theoretical science. This is of course very speculative, and I would actually hypothesize that the far tail cognitive elite among East Asians is more balanced in terms of the math/visuo-spatial and verbal split, given the great extent to which the imperial examination system, which tested almost exclusively literary things, selected for V at the tail instead of for M.

On the aforementioned bias, I’ll give another illustrative example. I once said to this friend of mine, a math PhD student, not Asian, how there’s the impression that people who are weaker academically tend to be better at certain practical things, like starting restaurants and businesses. We sure all know there are plenty who weren’t good at school but were very shrewd and successful at business, at practical things. That guy responded with reference to Berkson’s paradox. He said something like: “That’s because you are unlikely to see those who are bad at both. They tend to be in prison or in the lower classes.” I could only agree.

I’ll conclude with another more dramatic example. I used to, when I knew nothing about the subject, think that people who were really at math were weirdos and socially awkward. For one, there was this kid in my high school who was way better than me at math at the time, who was incredibly autistic. Also, summer after 10th grade, I saw Beautiful Mind, which depicts the mathematician as mentally crazy. Now I would bet the incidence of schizophrenia among the mathematically gifted is lower than it is in the whole population. It just happens that certain combinations of extreme traits are vastly more noticeable or exposed by the media to the public (a mathematician or physicist may think of this as weighing those with such combinations with a delta function, or something along that direction at least). I wasn’t quite aware of that at that time though. Only later, after meeting more math people did I realize that math people are not actually that socially out of it in general, far from it, at least once they’re past a certain age, by which they will have had the chance to interact with more people like them and form their own peer group.

It is my hope that people can be more cognizant of these biases described in this blog post.


The Asian penalty

We all know that elite schools in the US discriminate against Asian applicants, essentially imposing a penalty for being Asian. And they have been rather pathetically pretending that such is not the case in spite of all the statistical evidence to the contrary. On this, people have said things like: where is affirmative action for Asians in the NBA/NFL? Well, today one of my colleagues who is a keen baseball fan, and probably also an NBA one, was talking about how there is even an Asian penalty in the NBA. Like, Asians are typically under-drafted, which means their number or rank in the draft is under commensurate with their actual ability and value at basketball. He says it’s due to the negative perception being Asian is for basketball in terms of how good one is yada yada yada. I haven’t paid attention to basketball for a long time, but I do remember the Linsanity several years ago, and when I was a kid, one who was a keen NBA fan, all the talk about Yao Ming. Last I checked Asians account for 0.2% of the NBA players, which means just a few names. Well, there is the height disadvantage after all. This was actually somewhat surprising to me, perhaps influenced by the fact that Yao Ming seemed to be overvalued due to the money he would bring from all the Chinese fans. So not only is there not affirmative action for Asians in the NBA, there is the same discrimination, the same penalty, the same stereotypes against Asians as in college admissions. Now that really sucks!

Now to something else that saddens me greatly that is a consequence of the current discriminatory policies against Asians in college admissions. Some Asian-Americans are afraid to check Asian and even afraid to engage in activities/pursuits they have gift and passion for, or at least some intrinsic interest in, under the fear that those are too Asian. Some are even afraid to show their Asian heritage and even reject their roots, which is quite sad, as you are who you are, in terms of your cultural background and denying it mostly makes you look quite pathetic. At least based on what I experienced growing up Asian in the states, many if not most Asian kids, even smart ones, try to distance themselves from their parents’ culture and are reluctant to learn or speak their parents’ native language, under social pressures osmosed in them by the whole American public school experience. Chinese culture is a pretty fucking cool and rich culture, with a beautiful language of artistic virtue that comes with a rich history. It is a pity that it is so misunderstood and that the American education system pressures against it in those from that cultural background. This is anti-intellectual in fact too, ironic as it is instigated partly by elite educational institutions, as reading multiple languages makes one’s mental world and whole spiritual existence a hell of a lot more interesting, an inevitable product of access of more diverse information.

To sum it up, it looks like all across the board America treats Asians as second class citizens. Yes, Asians are mostly new immigrants, but this is in fact overstated. As early as in the 19th century, Chinese in America were made to do much of the most dangerous work building the Transcontinental Railroad only to suffer the Chinese Exclusion Act. In the 20th century especially later on, Chinese as well as Indians, in addition to Japanese, Koreans, and Vietnamese, have created tremendous wealth for America, largely in science and engineering fields. Asians in America have mostly been busy working, busy creating, and some in hard menial labor in wretched conditions, with such being a major contributor to Asians, as a group, being seen as passive and apolitical, creating a self-pertuating stereotype. On this, Steve Hsu has expressed on his blog how slow the Asian community has been to organize against the double standards imposed on them in college applications, relative to the what Jewish community had done when the same had been unjustly instituted against them. Given the voluminous extent to which Asians as a group have contributed to America in terms of innovation and value creation, Asians have every right to demand that they are fairly considered for all positions, and leadership positions in particular, based on merit, which is not happening right now. On this more Asian-Americans ought to muster the courage to speak up for what is right, as Steve Hsu, Yukong Zhao, and Jian Li, among many others, have done amidst resistance.