Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Amy Wax Told The Truth; Ruger and Penn Lied

It's not happy data, but, as I suspected, Wax was right:
As for the low number of black Penn law students graduating in the top of their class, Wax’s observations about the mismatch effect accord with all available data. The Law School Admissions Council collected 27,000 law student records in the early 1990s, representing nearly 90 percent of accredited schools. After the first year, 51 percent of black law students ranked in the bottom tenth of their class, compared with 5 percent of white students. Two-thirds of black students were in the bottom fifth of their class. Only 10 percent of blacks were in the top half of their class. As mismatch theory predicts, bar-examination failure rates were also skewed, since students put into classrooms above their preparation levels will learn less than when teaching is pitched to their current academic skills. Twenty-two percent of black test-takers in the LSAC database never passed the bar exam after five attempts, compared with 3 percent of white test-takers.
As I also noted, Penn's president's vague non-refutations of Wax's claims are a strong indication that she was right:
Unfortunately, Wax overlooked the precautionary rule for criticizing affirmative action: avoid any generalizations that can be rebutted with an even vaguer generalization. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black student graduate in the top quarter of the class and rarely, rarely in the top half,” she said, clearly speaking informally and from a subjective perspective. Ruger responded in his memo: “It is imperative for me as dean to state that these claims are false: black students have graduated in the top of the class at Penn Law.” Ruger’s statement leaves unspecified what the “top of the class” is and how many black students over what period of time have graduated in it. But his assertion, as so broadly defined, is undoubtedly true. It is also not inconsistent with Wax’s claim that black students have graduated in the top half of the class, but “rarely.”
Look, nobody likes data like this. No reasonable person, anyway. But this sort of official lying about the numbers has to be challenged. You'd think that Penn would just let Wax say her piece, ignore her, and go back to pretending that the facts aren't the facts. But in our time, these lies are the sacrosanct lies; these lies can meet refutation with all the righteous indignation the truth might muster. Penn doesn't have to worry about making things worse. Like Google, it can look the facts in the face and call them false; they're backed up by the rest of the cultural superstructure, all of which is committed to pretending that what we want to be true must be true with respect to this topic. 
   So, bottom line: Wax told the truth; Penn lied. For her temerity, Wax was forced to stop teaching 1L civ pro, and has been branded a racist. Amy Wax, like James Damore, spoke unspeakable truths and paid the price.

8 Comments:

Blogger Pete Mack said...

Here is a direct quote from Wax.
"“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black student graduate in the top quarter of the class [at Penn Law School], and rarely, rarely in the top half."
This is not an imprecise claim, and is almost certainly false. It shows pretty bad judgment to use hyperbole here: she's insulting *all* the black students at Penn, including the ones in the top half of the class. (I do not classify 10% as "rarely, rarely.)

9:51 AM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

Amy Wax is admitting she slandered all of Penn’s black law students over the past eighteen years — the time she’s been at Penn — by claiming to have significant negative information about them as a group that she did not in fact have.
A final note: It would have been very easy for Wax to verify whether black students at Penn had graduated in the top quarter or the top half of the class in her time there, if she had actually bothered to do any research. This is such a crudely phrased question that merely consulting public information about individual students would have answered it readily enough. That she didn’t bother to do that, and instead made bullshit claims about her own students in order to garner yet more publicity-driven professional opportunities for herself (I’m using the word professional here in its oldest sense) is a disgrace.

http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2018/03/win-friends-influence-people

So much for “private data”, Winston.

10:24 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Lol at what she said exactly. "I don't think I've ever seen x" has two different kinds of qualifiers in it, and *certainly* doesn't mean *x has never happened.* It's not racist. It's a heavily qualified descriptive statement. And if we did interpret it as, roughly, *no or few black students have...*, Then it's easily refuted by revealing aggregate demographic information that should violate no one's reasonable expectations of privacy. But the data isn't released. Worse, even Ruger's statement, if true, doesn't really refuted Wax's claim. Why do people typically release weasely pseudo-refutations?
The question is left as an exercise for the reader.

She's not insulting all black students at Penn...especially if her claim is true or approximately true.

I agree that it would be better to be more discreet...but I object to the rules of this game. One side can lie and conceal evidence and fling charges of racism at the drop of a hat...the other side must speak with perfect accuracy and be perfectly judicious at every turn (even off-campus, on Facebook, etc.)...and can be convicted on the basis of said concealed evidence and obviously weasely hearsay about it.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

You realize those arguments are crap, right, DA?

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I agree that it would be better to be more discreet...but I object to the rules of this game. One side can lie and conceal evidence and fling charges of racism at the drop of a hat...the other side must speak with perfect accuracy and be perfectly judicious at every turn (even off-campus, on Facebook, etc.)...and can be convicted on the basis of said concealed evidence and obviously weasely hearsay about it."

It's worth mentioning that the Wax claim in question wasn't in an Op-Ed or research paper, it was in a bloggingheads.tv diavlog. Basically a conversation posted on the internet. The way she spoke is exactly as precise as you would expect in that setting, and basically consistent with the facts if the article you posted is correct.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

She made specific claims that she can’t back up, Winston.

Also, where and how a claim is made makes no difference as to how truthful it is. Unless you’re saying there’s a right to bullshit in oral discussions.

Claims need proof, folks.

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Also, where and how a claim is made makes no difference as to how truthful it is."

If you're completely unconcerned with arguing in good faith, sure.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

In good faith, a claim should be evaluated on where and when it is made.

Is that what you’re saying?

8:53 AM  

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