Recently, Albemarle Man expressed the hope that the Supreme Court might give Harvard University more leeway to admit ever more Blacks and ever fewer Asians. In other words, leeway to significantly reduce the average IQ of its student body.
Let’s say, one way or another, the Supreme Court punts the ball down field and not much changes. Harvard will continue to admit students based on a grab bag list of what — to any employer — must seem idiotic criteria.
It has been doing this for decades.
Is it time to ask why anyone would hire from Harvard?
Perhaps an analogy to the humble motor car is in order.
From 1930 through 1970, General Motors established Cadillac (perhaps along with Ford’s Lincoln Continental) as the premier luxury car brand in the U.S. Aside from handmade specialties like Rolls Royce and a few Italian super-sportscars, Cadillac was the vehicle you drove if you wanted to show you had arrived. If you had asked anyone from McKinsey in the day whether another mass-produced luxury car had a chance of vaulting past Cadillac, he would have given you a long lecture about the power of branding backed by massive advertising.
Fast forward to 1990. The premier luxury cars in the world were now (i) the Mercedes Benz; (ii) the BMW 7-Series, and, increasingly (iii) the Toyota Lexus. Cadillac had tarnished its brand due to two factors: (i) first, it did not continue to match its vehicles to newer realities — such as significantly higher gas prices; (ii) second, and most crucially, it started to produce defect-plagued cars. This problem evidenced itself through the entire GM fleet. However, the vision of a Cadillac (!) with doors rattling from the Coke bottles left inside by negligent or angry workers must have been an unpleasant shock to the denizens of country clubs like the Winged Foot or River Oaks. Not surprisingly, the parking lots of such venerable institutions soon filled up with fewer Cadillacs and more German and Japanese luxury automobiles.
Can this degrading process apply to higher education? Today, if one were to suggest that Harvard’s bizarre selection process may eviscerate the desirability of its graduates, one would get another long lecture about the power of branding over generations. Possibly the memo from 1970 could be re-used, simply replacing “Cadillac” with “Harvard.”
That is not to say that qualities apart from pure IQ are not important in life success. However, to those who use this as a justification for Harvard’s grab-bag admissions criteria, one must ask: is it likely that a diversity bureaucrat who has never held a real job in his life, is likely to identify such a person?
The blunt fact is that, in today’s increasingly IQ-driven and quantitative skills-demanding economy, Harvard is no longer fit for purpose. And probably has not been for quite a while. A stroll down memory lane may be in order.
One could do worse in this regard than to peruse a couple of volumes of the Foreign Policy of the United States (produced by the State Department) for the Carter administration (the most recent Presidency represented, since generally 40 years must pass from a Presidency to publication of these volumes due to classification restrictions).
After reading the 1,800 pages of previously classified internal memoranda, inter-office communications, and the like reprinted in two of those volumes, it becomes obvious who the key players were. And they are not people you have heard of. No, they do not include Cyrus Vance, the eminent Yale-trained lawyer then Secretary of State on leave from the equally distinguished law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, his deputy for Arms Control, Yale-trained lawyer Paul Warnke of Clifford & Warnke (yes, that Clifford), or even the ever-self promoting “international relations” specialist from Columbia, Zbigniew Brzezinski.
No, they include people who, almost to a man, were mathematicians, physicists, chemists, and game theorists (did I say mathematicians?) such as Secretary of Defense Harold Brown (Bronx School of Science, grade average 99.5, Ph.D. in Physics from Columbia, personally selected by Ede [Edward] Teller to help miniaturize the fusion nuclear bomb), William Perry, a mathematician heading DARPA, later to be Clinton’s Secretary of Defense, the immortal Andrew Marshall (degrees in a number of subjects ranging from mathematics to economics to history, but primarily self-taught, a RAND emigre selected by his fellow traveler at RAND, James Schlesinger during Schlesinger’s brief tour as Secretary of Defense during the late Nixon and early Ford administrations), heading [the DOD “Office of Net Assessment,” whose creations included the Trident missile system and, with DARPA, the electronic warfare we know today). For all the “sturm and drang” about relatively inconsequential items like the 400 hapless hostages held at “hotel Tehran,” the real game was being played by Harold Brown, who quietly allowed his generals to scotch arms control and, in private meetings, negotiated with Germany’s Helmut Schmidt, UK’s Dennis Healey, and France’s Valerie Giscard d’Estang and their respective technical experts to introduce the Pershing missiles into Germany. It was the ultimate introduction of those missiles in the Reagan administration that, by his own admission, made Gorbachev’s blood run cold and led to substantial positive changes in the security environment facing the United States.
Fundamentally, foreign policy is governed by the power a nation is capable of projecting and delivering to a potential enemy. In the Carter administration, whether the subject was disarmament (a big bête noire of President Carter), how to deal with the massive Soviet superiority in conventional forces vis-à-vis Western Europe, or virtually anything else (apart perhaps from the “touchy-feely” subject of civil revolutions like Vietnam, which in any case was over by that time), the memoranda and inter-agency projectiles launched by the DOD against its erstwhile bureaucratic adversaries, the Yale-trained lawyers at State or the “international relations expert” from Columbia at the NSC, were so comprehensive and devastating from a technical point of view that no successful response would have been possible without massive quantitative counter-backup — which, in the event, was not there. Undoubtedly, Carter, himself the beneficiary of engineering training at Annapolis, appreciated this.
To summarize, public policy at the highest levels is a serious business. And whether the subject is defense, public health, or any other program dealing with either new technology or massive numbers, the people who will be of value and, as the saying goes, “in the game,” will be people with significant quantitative backgrounds — as at least part, if not all, of their skill sets. Which will presuppose, of course, massive IQs.
Government is not the only sector where this has occurred. Private business has followed the same path. Finance has become so much more quantitative in the recent past that, say, the head of bond trading at a Salomon Brothers or Lehman as recently as 1980 would simply be incapable of understanding any of the products that today make banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley the bulk of their money. Even the advertising business has converted from a touchy-feely enterprise of aspiring word and pictorial artists into an information collection business involving the analysis of massive pools of data and the ability to produce mathematical algorithms to assist in interpreting that data, often real time. One need not even mention the elephant in the room — the high-tech industry, which now makes up about 1/4th of the S&P 500 by fair market value.
A couple of years ago, the head of the eminent Winchester School in England — hardly a bastion of technocratic Jews like Harold Brown — publicly recognized this on his school’s website. This man, head of a school that has been operating since at least the year 1400 — said that “what Latin was to the 15th century, mathematics will be for the 21st century.” At Winchester, he implied, we continue to teach Latin, but we need to up the game in mathematics. To put it crudely, the day of public policy or American business being meaningfully guided by gentlemen from Groton and Choate (and Harvard) with pretty good history plus a little geometry and maybe some trigonometry — plus their affirmative-action hires — is past its sell-by date.
Now let us turn back to fair Harvard. And take a look at some of the simpler numbers a crude analysis of its current class makeup gives us. It won’t take a 99.5% grade average at Bronx Science to decipher what it might mean to a prospective employer — and to the public interest.
Harvard each year admits approximately 1,600 students. Of these, cross-checking a number of informal sources on the internet, the following groups appear:
- Approximately 400 are athletes.
- Approximately 400 are legacies.
- Approximately 400 are low-performing Blacks and other minorities there solely because of affirmative action, probably substantially less capable than even the athletes or the legacies.
Well, not much left is there? Do we dare conclude that only about 400 of a 1,600 entering class are there on any form of intellectual merit? And even among those, the highest IQs are weeded out by the grab-bag of “leadership” criteria used for entry, including after-school activities, working on a kibbutz (but, God forbid, not an American farm in Illinois, known source of Hitler Jugend). One could do worse than to read a truly depressing article about the students at Groton who did, and did not, get into the Ivy League Universities. (See For Groton Grads, Academics Aren’t Only Keys to Ivy Schools: “Most of the students in [Groton’s senior] class who were accepted by those universities had less impressive academic credentials than his. What they had instead were certain characteristics such as money, connections, or minority status that helped them vault over him to the universities of their choice.) The reader of such an article must only conclude that the Groton students he wants will precisely be those who are not accepted at Harvard — or any other Ivy League institution, since the ones accepted at Harvard seemed to be a group of the least intelligent and/or least capable one could scrape up from the basement floor of that otherwise esteemed preparatory school.
So what is the net result?
The Harvard Mathematics Department reports that each year approximately ten (10) — yes 10, (for those mathematically challenged, 10 is the lowest two-digit number) — students out of 1,600 graduate with a degree in Pure Mathematics, probably the most intellectually demanding mathematics (or any other) discipline. Another 150–200 or so graduate with applied math degrees. Another 200 or so graduate with Physics degrees. Assuming no overlap, there you are almost at 400. With probable significant overlap, there is still room for a significant number of Chemistry and Electrical Engineering majors. In fact, one fine fellow recently graduated with a dual-major in Mathematics and Fine Arts — apparently the first time this had happened in Harvard’s history. Of course, he was an Asian.
It is obvious that the truly difficult disciplines are reserved to the genetically elite 400. Athletes, legacies, and minorities need not apply. Nor would they be stupid enough to do so. They know they would flunk out.
So the intellectually terrorized “untermenschen” crowd the economics, government, history, and sociology departments (we do not even discuss the ridiculous “Black Studies” departments), producing, one must only assume future second-grade Cyrus Vances — now in both White-and Blackface. Is that really what we need more of at this time? And, even if an employer does not want or need a quant background in his hires, must not an employer realize that, in hiring from Harvard’s economics and government graduates, the employer is almost guaranteed to get inferior-grade material, as compared to, say, a double 800 with a 4.0 from Stuyvesant or Groton rejected at Harvard and hence attending the University of Illinois?
Combining this with the increasing momentum of woke affirmative action, it is clear that Harvard, like the folks at Cadillac before it, is hell-bent on turning their product into an inferior brand. And at some point the market will recognize this and react. Savagely and with speed. With the cold calculation of a businessman seeking the smartest people to maximize his return on invested capital, or the grim determination of a DOD Secretary under huge pressure who needs — in real time — informed analysis of a host of impossibly complex weapons systems or war scenarios.
But, more importantly, what is the competition doing — and what has it been doing for more than a century? Andrei Martyanov, an immigrant from the Soviet Union, has contributed his point of view. Martyanov, a graduate of a Naval engineering and mathematics academy in the Soviet Union, in his recent book Losing Military Supremacy: The Myopia of American Strategic Planning has decried the composition of American elites as compared with those in less fortunate countries like China, Russia, and even a good portion of Europe. He decries the reality that none of our elites “know anything.” They have no technical backgrounds and thus are incapable of even engaging in sophisticated debate, let alone of arriving at sensible policies. Though there are a few, like Harold Brown and William Perry, the bulk appear to be completely non-quantitative.
The competition, as Martyanov notes, has not been sitting still. As long ago as 150 years ago, European countries, packed together in a hostile national security environment (think Hungary not far from Germany or the Austro-Hungarian Empire smack up against France, Prussia, and not far from the borders of the Russian Empire) realized that technological advance was necessary in order that they not be leap-frogged — perhaps fatally — by one of their all-too-nearby adversaries in terms of armament capacity and quality. About 3 seconds later, each realized that they needed a pipeline from grades K through 12 to produce students with sufficient background in mathematics and the sciences such that they could progress rapidly through first-class engineering programs. The result was a K-through university mathematics and science pipeline unrivalled by anything ever seen, to this day, in the fat and happy United States, whose main interest was in producing potential aspiring clerks in John Hancock’s counting house. (Although the USSR’s launch of Sputnik in 1957 led to what has turned out to be a temporary emphasis on science and technology education in the U.S.) This has produced some anomalous results, including the outstanding performance in mathematics competitions of the top math school in the tiny country of Rumania. The result that, notwithstanding a number of commercially inventive product roll-outs from places like the Edison labs, the U.S. had, until after World War II, very little “big league” scientific establishment compared to, say, Germany or Russia or even the rest of Europe. The geniuses and well-trained minds that did the most difficult science that allowed the US to leapfrog the rest of the world during and after World War II were, in the main, imported from Europe and had been trained in Europe, due in part to Hitler’s driving out a number of his best scientists on religious or ethnic grounds. To this day, émigrés from the Soviet Union claim that the bottom half of the graduate math classes at places like Harvard and Yale are generally composed of native-born Americans; the top performers are those educated at places like Tsing Hai, Lomosonov Moscow State University, and even Oxford and Cambridge.
To compete, we need to up our game. And from that point of view, Harvard is not part of the solution. Increasingly, it is part of the problem. For private business, and for the rest of us.
So, I ask again.
Unless Harvard drastically changes its game plan, will employers be asking in 2030:
“Why hire from Harvard?”