A Modest Proposal For Academia

An earlier post elicited this comment from George Turner (who should have his own blog). I thought I’d slightly edit and elevate it here:

“Trying to stop the cheating won’t fix the problem, which was baked in when parental/donor pressures led to grade inflation. Using brutal attrition and grading on the curve was a way to continually deselect students. There was no point in a parent tying to cheat a kid into Harvard if the kid would almost immediately flunk out.

That harsh grading system’s drawback was that it produced drop-outs, and that was an inefficient way to get all of the bright kids the maximally beneficial education. And it still had the corruption problem because some rich or powerful kids simply weren’t going to be flunked out, even if it took hand-holding by the administration. And once it became obvious that rich kids weren’t really going to flunk out, the public realized that the Ivy League had become social clubs.

That seemed unfair, so SATs/ACTs. But those are harsh, and Jews did too well, so they added essays. But essays are hard, too, and Jews and Asians are great writers, so they emphasized BS high-school extra-curricular activities and offered a back door for ping-pong. Academics, educators, and administrators will no doubt make careers out of debating the merits of various fixes, and the wheels of the bus go round and round.

Continue reading A Modest Proposal For Academia


When the benefits outweigh the risks. These two grafs stuck out to me:

My decision to take a statin was not made casually. I first tried a stricter-than-usual diet of home-cooked meals rich in vegetables plus fish and nearly devoid of saturated fats, processed foods and refined carbs and sugars. I took supplements of fish oils, fiber and plant sterols, among other nonprescription products said to lower cholesterol. And, of course, I kept my weight down and activity up — a daily regimen of walking, swimming and cycling. All, alas, to no avail. [Emphasis added]

So if she’s only eating fish, it’s likely that she’s not getting enough protein. She doesn’t explain why she’s not eating land animals. And she seems to think that saturated fat is harmful, when there’s no scientific evidence that consumption of it either increases cholesterol, or health risks. There’s also not much evidence that exercise controls cholesterol. Next:

…for those facing a higher-than-average risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke, the first step in reducing that risk is not a drug but getting modifiable risk factors under control. Even if you plan to take a statin, the drug will be most effective when combined with measures that reduce cardiovascular risk.

That means adopting and sticking to a Mediterranean-style diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, peas and beans, nuts and seeds and contains little or no saturated fats, the fats found in meats, poultry and dairy products that are not fat-free. Substitute whole grains for refined ones. The best oils to use for cooking and salads are olive, canola, grapeseed and avocado.

So she’s recommending eschewing animal products in general, and (again) eliminating saturated fats, with their healthy omega 3s. And substituting seed oils (canola and grape), with their high omega 6s for them, promoting inflammation. She also imagines that whole grains are all right, when refined aren’t when (again) there is little scientific evidence to support it.

One other point: This is exactly the kind of uncontrolled experiment that gives us so much junk nutrition science (e.g., she didn’t try a high-meat, high-fat, low-carb diet; she just assumed that the one she was on was best to lower cholesterol, then gave up and switched to taking statins).

Given that I have never had a cardiovascular event, I think I’m going to stick with my current meat-rich (and saturated-fat-rich) diet, and continue to eschew statins.

NASA’s “Inability” To Do Space Assembly

A righteous Twitter rant from Phil Metzger:

Follow the thread. He lambastes the Alabama delegation, and how this actually harmed Alabama. He’s right. It’s tragic.

The College Admissions Mess

The four unspoken rules:

Bottom line: our admissions process is badly flawed. I blame it partly on the decline in the predominance in academic values coinciding with the bureaucratization of the university. Administrators are crowding out faculty not only numerically but in terms of power. I blame it partly on our academic obsession with evaluating people on the basis of group characteristics, not individual merit. What would Alexis de Tocqueville say visiting 21st century America, learning that students bribe their way into a ticket for economic success by lying about their ability to hit tennis balls? Is that the new American exceptionalism?


[Update a few minutes later]

Yes. The college-admissions scandal should make everyone furious.

Academia has been infuriating me for years. It’s a generational disaster, not just for the kids, but the Republic itself.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!