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January 09, 2007

Are Asians the New Jews?

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

41% of Berkeley undergrads are now of Asian descent, reports Timothy Egan:

Asian-Americans make up less than 5 percent of the population but typically make up 10 to 30 percent of students at the nation's best colleges: In 2005, the last year with across-the-board numbers, Asians made up 24 percent of the undergraduate population at Carnegie Mellon and at Stanford, 27 percent at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 14 percent at Yale and 13 percent at Princeton.

Even so, according to Egan, their numbers on these campuses would be far higher if the schools were admitting students based purely on test scores:

A study released in October by the Center for Equal Opportunity, an advocacy group opposing race-conscious admissions, showed that in 2005 Asian-Americans were admitted to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, at a much lower rate (54 percent) than black applicants (71 percent) and Hispanic applicants (79 percent) -- despite median SAT scores that were 140 points higher than Hispanics and 240 points higher than blacks.

Who's being discriminated against, if anyone? And is there any way we can blame Affirmative Action? (I'm always up for blaming Affirmative Action.) As you can tell, I don't entirely know what to make of these figures, but there they are. Time to watch "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle" again, I guess.



posted by Michael at January 9, 2007


Some asians are given preferential treatment for being minorities at some campuses, and are discriminated against in favor of other minorities at other campuses. White kids are discriminated against everywhere.

My experience of asians, regardless of personality, is that they are study drones. The performance tails off markedly in real world situations, especially where creative and imaginative thinkinig is required. I say this with 20 years of experience in an engineering field (applied science).

The troubling thing about these numbers is that so many of these students are foreign. I don't see why they are given preference over native students, given that most of these schools receive a lot of government research money and community support (they don't pay taxes--shouldn't they serve the public, not the highest bidder?).

If asians are so smart, why do they come here for an education? With all the stealing of technology and spying that foreign nationals do, coupled with the terrorist threat, I can't fathom why they aren't told to go somewhere else. Its really quite ridiculous.

In my opinion, this is just a further decline of the american educational system. Its no coincidence that we are losing our technological lead or have already lost it in some fields as the trend of screwing over white kids in favor of minorities has taken place. That may sound non-kosher to a number of more liberal posters here, but its the absolute truth.

Posted by: BIOH on January 10, 2007 12:42 AM

Are East Asians the new Jews? As the above commenter hinted: no, due to personality differences. Compared to East Asians, Ashkenazi Jews are more likely to be garrulous, zealous, iconoclastic, delight in debating for the sake of debating, and have a penchant for the abstract and non-utilitarian.

Excellence is not a function solely of IQ / cognitive test scores but a (multiplicative) function of brains and personality traits together. Berkeley is more academic-oriented, but the Ivies and de facto Ivies are also finishing schools for the elite: those who will work at Big Law firms, the US Senate, Wall St investment banks, Manhattan PR / Advertising agencies, New York / DC mainstream journalism, and so on.

Therefore, just clearing the cognitive hurdle won't be enough to get into Princeton (a low-Asian school). If the school emphasizes personality traits on which East Asians have lower means than Europeans -- not to maliciously keep out East Asians, but because they want to brag about their corporate attorney alumni -- then East Asians will still be overrepresented, but not to the extent that IQ alone would predict.

Posted by: Agnostic on January 10, 2007 11:48 AM

I've been looking for the quote and can't find it, but when Ronald Reagan was governor of California he said he wouldn't be the least bit bothered if the state colleges wound up being 100% Asian; if they scored the best then they deserve the slot, said the Gipper. And I entirely agree with him.

Posted by: Brian on January 11, 2007 8:54 AM

My experience of asians, regardless of personality, is that they are study drones. The performance tails off markedly in real world situations, especially where creative and imaginative thinkinig is required.

It's really that the undergraduate academic experience is a matter of taking tests and doing well on them. Especially standardised exams. And East Asians emerge from a culture in which success has hinged on standardised examinations for a thousand years. Longer in some cases. Compared against that, Europeans have been taking standardised exams for what, maybe a century? No comparison. Our background, particularly those of us coming from families that used to be part of the "scholar"-elite, just prepares us better for a system oriented around classroom education and testing. We were practically bred for it.

Outside in the real world, I don't know how it is -- I expect Asian economic performance underperforms what you'd expect based on exam scores. But on average, Asians still outperform any other ethnic group, except maybe the Jews, if you disaggregate them from Whites. South Asians, in particular, outperform all other ethnic groups by a huge margin. I think that might even include the Jews.

Certain classes of Bengalis are probably comparable to "the new Jews," along the "gregarious disputation" axis -- at least they've had a reputation for enthusiastic hairsplitting for a long while now. And I think that as traditional Chinese culture reasserts itself in the mainland, we may see a much heavier Chinese presence in the economy, somewhat the way Chinese immigrants (whose families have been part of the Chinese diaspora for a few centuries, in most cases) dominate all the Southeast Asian economies, at least when affirmative action for Malays or whatever isn't being used to prop up native industries.


All that said, even though I see where you're coming from, and agree to a certain extent, it's worth remembering that back when the Ivy league got together and readjusted their admissions system because they were admitting more Jews than they wanted, the stereotype of the Jew was that he was precisely a "study drone." Or rather, a "grind," I think the term was -- someone who studied well, had a good mind for facts, but lacked the essential masculine creative instinct that the White Man possessed. And that wasn't a completely arbitrary stereotype, at that time. But in a generation or two, it wasn't true anymore.

Posted by: Taeyoung on January 12, 2007 5:31 PM

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