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From the New York Times Magazine:

Who Benefits From the Expansion of A.P. Classes?

Millions of federal and state dollars are spent each year on increasing the number of Advanced Placement classes in low-income majority black and Latino high schools. Is this a benefit to the students or a payday for the testing company?

By ALINA TUGEND SEPT. 7, 2017

A.P. U.S. government, like the 38 other A.P. courses developed by the College Board, a nonprofit organization, is a difficult class. Students are expected to read college-level textbooks, grasp complicated vocabulary and concepts and spend 30 minutes to an hour each night on homework. At the end of the year is an arduous final exam designed, distributed and graded by the College Board. If students score a 3 or better on a 5-point scale, they typically receive college credit.

Advanced Placement tests for high school students are scored as if they were an intro 101 level course at a run-of-the-mill Directional State College. A 3 is equivalent to a C, 4 is a B, a 5 is an A. Many colleges give course credit for scores of 3 or higher, although some are toughening up. Last time I checked, MIT didn’t accept any scores below 5 and Caltech didn’t accept any AP scores at all on the grounds that none of their courses are 101 level.

My son got through college in three years due to all his AP credits from tests taken in high school, which saved me lots of money. But a nephew who AP’d out of his entire freshman year at the U. of Illinois immediately flunked out because his sophomore level engineering courses he took as a freshman were so tough relative to how much xBox he was playing without his mom around to nag him into doing his homework.

… A.P. classes were, for years, primarily taught in wealthier school districts. But over the last decade, the program has grown rapidly. In 2006, 1.3 million students took at least one A.P. exam; by 2016, the number had increased to 2.6 million. The total number of tests taken grew during the same time period to 4.7 million from 2.3 million. Much of this growth is due to increased federal funding for A.P. tests and concerted efforts by the College Board to reach low-income and minority students.

I did an in-depth study of AP test results for VDARE back in 2009 during the early years of the push to get more students tot take the test.

I was surprised to find that probably not enough students were taking AP tests back then, especially not enough white students.

Society’s push to discover more black and Hispanic diamonds in the rough was causing black and Hispanic mean scores to run into diminishing returns, but even that wasn’t as bad as I had expected.

Only about 8% of teens took the most popular test, US History, in 2008. The percentages had been increasing steadily in recent years without a massive drop off in average score, suggesting that there were still potential high scorers out there untested.

From one viewpoint, the expansion has been successful. In 2005, only 6.4 percent of the nation’s high school seniors who took A.P.s were black; that figure increased to 9.5 percent in 2015. Hispanics’ participation grew to 20 percent from 13.4 percent. For low-income students, that figure doubled, to about 30 percent from about 15 percent.

My impression in 2009 was that the real reserves of untested potential high scorers were, as usual, white kids in flyover red states.

Nationally, Asian took (and passed) about 3 times as many AP tests per capita as whites. The white shortfall in test-taking relative to Asians was smaller in states with a lot of Asians, but in states without many Asians, whites didn’t seem to notice AP tests existed.

Nationally, over 70 percent of African-Americans and 57 percent of Hispanics who took an A.P. test in 2016 did not pass. (Over all, the failure rate was 42 percent.) And over the past two decades, although the percentage of students scoring between 2 and 5 remained fairly stable, the percentage of students scoring 1 has grown to 19 percent from 12 percent. …

I’d say it could be worse.

The A.P. program remained a mainstay of affluent, mostly white schools until the 1990s, when parents in lower-income school districts became increasingly concerned about the disparity between the number of A.P. classes offered at their schools and the number in wealthier districts. Rigorous standardized tests, it was thought at the time, could be a means of bridging the achievement gap between richer and poorer schools. In 1999, the A.C.L.U. sued the state of California on behalf of black and Hispanic high school students in Inglewood, who were denied equal access to A.P. courses, saying the state violated the students’ right to an equal education. Inglewood High School in South Los Angeles offered only three A.P. classes, while Beverly Hills High School offered 45 A.P. classes in 14 subjects. …

Packer believes that the numbers actually signify success. “The overall A.P. score hasn’t changed much,” he told me. In 2008, the mean score was 2.85; in 2016, it was 2.87. “We don’t see much cause for concern.”

That was my takeaway in 2009: while the ongoing expansion in AP testing was increasing the number of real no-hopers taking the tests, it was also finding previously untapped decent students. At least as of 2009, the glass seemed half fuller than half emptier. As I wrote:

Black scores fell a comparable amount over the last decade, from a mean of 2.21 to 1.91 (with the passing rate dropping from 35 percent to 26 percent). Still, despite depressingly diminishing returns, more than quadrupling the number of AP tests taken by blacks from 1998 to 2008 helped the absolute number of tests passed by blacks to triple.

So, I was more liberal than the NYT on this question.

In general, I’m pretty bullish on AP tests, and feel they should be given more weight in college admissions. They have advantages over high school grades (they’re nationally consistent) and advantages over SAT/ACT tests (if kids are going to prep endlessly for a test, they might as well learn something in the process). But the tests are only given in May of each year, which limits their utility for college applications. There should be one semester AP tests in popular subject given in early December each year with grading done over the Christmas vacation to be ready for college applications due on January 1.

 
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  1. res says:

    Millions of federal and state dollars are spent each year on increasing the number of Advanced Placement classes in low-income majority black and Latino high schools.

    Any idea who pushed the idea of increasing AP classes in those high schools in the first place?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Corvinus
    "Any idea who pushed the idea of increasing AP classes in those high schools in the first place?"

    Great question. The College Board, with apparent** input from college professors and high school teachers, Mr. Sailor's study from 2009 regarding AP test results would have little bearing today, as several tests, from AP United States History to AP Biology, have been redesigned. Why? The Common Core Standards and marketing. There is an emphasis on skill building, with content serving as the vehicle. The evaluation process for writing consists of rubrics. Back in the "golden days", the content would drive instruction, complete with holistic grading.

    To Mr. Sailor's point that "society’s push to discover more black and Hispanic diamonds in the rough was causing black and Hispanic mean scores to run into diminishing returns, but even that wasn’t as bad as I had expected", there is absolute validity in his claim. Although, he is neglecting to consider there are a number of white kids who also lack the requisite intellectual rigor and/or come from poorer backgrounds who end up taking those advanced classes. They have been pushed by school administrators in response to parental requests that certain courses be offered without "gatekeeping". Administrators have also sold the idea to parents that even if their child struggles, they are more prepared for college given the nature of the course. More districts have been forgoing prerequisites or entrance qualifications in order to boost numbers. Earning college credit in high school especially helps the bottom line of parents by doling less dollars for their sons and daughters in college. The more students who take AP, the more "prestige", the more parents are satisfied.

    The problem is that AP teachers teach to the top, rather than the middle or bottom, tier...as they should. The students and parents generally understand this process, but as a result AP exam scores were lower for some schools compared to in the past. So the College Board, in its infinite wisdom, has made changes within the past five years to "democratize" the courses. The revised curriculum, it was argued, would enable teachers to go more in depth on topics rather than students being responsible for a laundry list of facts. Whether the new tests are equally challenging as the old tests has been vigorously contested within the AP community.

    Not that there is any political machinations here. /sarcasm

    "For one thing, David Coleman, the current head of the College Board, was previously part of the English Language Arts committee of the Common Core. The media often refers to him as an “architect of the Common Core.” So it's not too surprising that he would bring the Common Core philosophy to the College Board, leading to an SAT overhaul." [and overall of the AP courses]

    http://blog.prepscholar.com/is-the-new-sat-2016-sat-aligned-with-common-core

    Hmmm. Change the curriculum. Increase the availability. Make more money. Nah, that's not what is going on here. /sarcasm


    **There were a number of complaints that CB unilaterally made this decision ahead of time, then consulted experts, who offered what they thought was preliminary advice, and [whallah], a number of "course redesigns" occurred, much to the chagrin of veteran AP teachers who believed that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".
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  2. Bubba says:

    But a nephew who AP’d out of his entire freshman year at the U. of Illinois immediately flunked out because his sophomore level engineering courses he took as a freshman were so tough relative to how much xBox he was playing without his mom around to nag him into doing his homework.

    While he may have been distracted by an xBox, I bet he did not compete with as many Asians at U of Illinois as he did in high school. It was a rude awakening for me and glad I did not use my AP credits in college. The engineering degree I received was well deserved and the competition was fierce.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Opinionator
    You think he competed with fewer Asians at university than in high school?
    , @Bill Jones
    " The engineering degree I received was well deserved and the competition was fierce."

    In what way is the achievement of a degree a function of competition?
    , @cthulhu
    Late to the party here, but anyway...

    I doubt that it was the xBox or the Asians; I'll bet that it was just the overall level of effort required compared to high school, even with a ton of AP classes. Every engineering program I've ever heard of has some weed-out classes - in my program, it was the three-semester whammy of Physics I, Physics II, and Themodynamics I, which for most students started with the second semester (I somewhat foolishly ended up starting this sequence my very first semester despite never having touched either calculus or physics in high school, due to a poor white trash high school that topped out at chemistry and trig; I made it through OK though). If you make it through this sequence, you stand a good chance of having the wherewithal and the skills to get your degree. The rationale is that if the college can wash out early on those who won't make it, they can get those former engineering students into a degree program that makes more sense for them.

    Anyway, coming into a respectable engineering program in the second year and not having had two semesters of ramping up to the expectations...sounds very tough; he probably would have been more successful to have re-taken just about everything math and science he AP'ed out (humanities stuff, not so much) just to get used to the new level of performance required.
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  3. Barnard says:

    My impression in 2009 was that the real reserves of untested potential high scorers were white kids in flyover red states.

    It wasn’t even an option for us when I graduated from a rural high school in a flyover state in the late 90s. I got to college and found out about it, talking to several students from larger areas who already had a semester’s worth or more of credits. I have heard options for taking AP classes in smaller high schools have improved, but they are still pretty limited. Also met a couple of students like your nephew who tried to take upper level classes in their first year on campus based on taking AP classes in high school and struggled to make the adjustment.

    Read More
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  4. Yan Shen says:

    Advanced Placement tests for high school students are scored as if they were an intro 101 level course at a run-of-the-mill Directional State College. A 3 is equivalent to a C, 4 is a B, a 5 is an A. Many colleges give course credit for scores of 3 or higher, although some are toughening up. Last time I checked, MIT didn’t accept any scores below 5 and Caltech didn’t accept any AP scores at all on the grounds that none of their courses are 101 level.

    I’ve never been a huge fan of the AP tests. Sure getting a 5 on something rigorous like Calc BC or Physics C or the likes requires you to master meaningful material. On the other hand, most of the top schools don’t really care all that much about AP exams and you don’t get too much credit for them.

    Also, as others here have noted, the scoring isn’t particularly fine grained and you can miss quite a bit and still get the highest possible score. There could still be a decent delta in quantitative aptitude between two people who both score a 5 on say the Calc BC exam.

    AP tests are probably most meaningful for, to quote Steve here, people who attend run of the mill state colleges. Or say a school ranked between 30-100 nationally or the likes… I grew up in Houston and it seemed like half my high school class that went on to college went to UT Austin, the other half Texas A&M. Those kids are probably the AP exams’ target audience so to speak.

    How can you make yourself stand out potentially to elite colleges? Something that indicates serious high end ability in an area like math, i.e. high AMC or AIME scores or the likes. See the quote below. Anyone smart enough to make USAMO is a serious mathematical talent.

    Caltech and MIT both specifically ask for your best AMC and AIME scores, and the one Ivy I applied to (Yale) explicitly suggested putting them in the Additional Achievements section. A solid score definitely helps your application, as doing well on math contests in general indicates a level of academic dedication and creativity that most standardized tests don’t bring out.

    Read More
    • Replies: @anon
    Even the AMC and AIME tests are weak compared to the Math Tripos https://www.maths.cam.ac.uk/system/files/paperia_1_0.pdf

    or the JEE https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/iit-jee-subject/iit-jee
    , @Yan Shen
    https://www.quora.com/Approximately-what-percentage-of-USAMO-qualifiers-get-into-Harvard-MIT-and-other-top-schools

    Anecdotally, for domestic USAMO qualifiers, around 90% of applicants are admitted to MIT and around 30% are admitted to Harvard.

    This is consistent with the fact that MIT admissions weights STEM awards higher than Harvard admissions, which seems to prioritize well-roundedness.
     
    Anecdotal data, so take it with a grain of salt. But consistent with what I've heard in general about schools like MIT and Caltech basically viewing you extremely favorably if you're able to accomplish something like qualify for the USAMO. Also, MIT's been on a bit of a tear in Putnam also recently, IIRC, so in general they tend to look favorably upon these kinds of things.


    In general, I’m pretty bullish on AP tests, and feel they should be given more weight in college admissions. They have advantages over high school grades (they’re nationally consistent) and advantages over SAT/ACT tests (if kids are going to prep endlessly for a test, they might as well learn something in the process). But the tests are only given in May of each year, which limits their utility for college applications. There should be one semester AP tests in popular subject given in early December each year with grading done over the Christmas vacation to be ready for college applications due on January 1.
     
    Kinda sorta agree, but also disagree. They're definitely more consistent than high school grades,
    but to me there are drawbacks. AP exams are useful if say you can get a 5 on a calc BC exam and get credit for some introductory calc class in college, but I wonder if maybe some of the less widely accepted tests can be rid of. For instance in just looking at a handful of top schools, I see that usually stuff like English Language/Literature, US History, World History, Government, Geography or the likes don't receive any credit. I suspect that pushing additional NAMs into taking AP classes is probably also disproportionately towards the histories and geographies as opposed to say physics C or calc BC or the likes.

    Yeah for sure getting a 5 on physics C mechanics and e&m probably says something useful about your quantitative aptitude and or conscientiousness, but I still feel like 1) 1-5 scale isn't discriminatory enough and 2) surely the SAT is more g-loaded than AP exams and less amenable to prep? How g-loaded is an AP history exam for instance compared to the SAT verbal?
    , @Lot
    Too bad for us with very high verbal there is/was nothing like this. I got a 74 on the PSAT-V when I was 12 taking it completely cold (no prep, no notice I'd be taking it at all until they grabbed me from class). By the time I took the real thing and then the SAT, an 80/800 was a sure thing. I would have loved some contests like USAMO.

    I suppose I could have taken the GRE.
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  5. As long as high schools get extra ranking points just for having AP classes — regardless of results — their administrators will push AP on kids who can’t hack it.

    Also, as long as extra federal dollars are involved, there will be extra effort to keep those dollars coming.

    Anecdotally, the word is that nearby schools in vibrant districts are urging any and all students, regardless of ability, to take AP classes. Principals are constantly reminding teachers to get more kids to sign up.

    Most of those kids get a score of 1 on the exam, which is failing and essentially zero.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Old fogey
    Teachers should not be encouraged to sign up students they deem not to be good candidates for an AP class. Why give youngsters who are already struggling an additional opportunity to fail? How does that help them?
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  6. athEIst says:

    Sorta interesting, but the scores were boring. The scores are boring because they’re always the same. Caucasian, Asians up about an eighth 0f a s,d., Hispanics down a half of a s.d., and Blacks down a full s.d. This never changes, nor will.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Old fogey
    You are correct in your cynicism, of course.

    What I can not understand is the persistent interest in keeping such records. When a child attends school he should be considered simply a student, not a black student, or a white student, or an Asian student, etc.
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  7. “Any idea who pushed the idea of increasing AP classes in those high schools in the first place?”

    Jay Mathews. Haven’t you ever seen Stand and Deliver, or heard about his Challenge Index? He and Newsweek started an America’s Best High Schools which was derived purely from one metric: how many seniors had taken AP Exams. Taken, not passed. It began in 1998.

    So utter crap schools in the inner city could get ranked as a great high school simply for forcing all their kids to take AP tests after taking AP “classes” that weren’t anything like.

    At the same time, California banned affirmative action, so the UC system altered its admission criteria to weight grades as 75% of the overall admissions factor. Since AP classes get a point more in GPA (even without taking the test), this led to a push by Asian American parents to have their kids to take every possible AP they could (and often cheat on the tests), although they care much more about the grade.

    Whites don’t care as much about grades, and often times in white/asian schools, there’s too many signups for AP classes so it goes to the kids with the highest grades. Which isn’t to say that plenty of whites aren’t taking APs, too.

    From what I can tell, whites are comfortably ensconced in the middle of the country without too many Asians in competition, so they really don’t need to take AP classes. They really don’t save you that much time in college anymore, particularly good ones.

    I once did a (very rudimentary) examination of AP preferences by race. It’s what you ‘d expect.

    Recently, there was much wailing about blacks not taking AP–wrote about it here.

    One thing that is completely ignored is how many Chinese, Koreans, and Spanish speakers get “credit” for taking tests designed for language learners in their native languages. Pisses me off.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Yan Shen

    One thing that is completely ignored is how many Chinese, Koreans, and Spanish speakers get “credit” for taking tests designed for language learners in their native languages. Pisses me off.
     
    Yeah that does seem kind of cheap. On the other hand, do they really benefit from those AP scores in terms of college credit? Seems more like just resume padding?

    By the way, has anyone ever uh pointed out to you that your life's dedication to whining about Asians "pisses them off"? I'm not necessarily saying that it bothers me, more just wondering if anyone else has been annoyed by it. I haven't followed a lot of your writing, but from what I've skimmed I get the distinct impression that supposed Asian cheating on this or that is one of your big obsessions in life.

    This kind of reminds me of the anti-Japanese hysteria that peaked around the late 1980s and early 1990s in America, when supposedly the Japanese cheated their way to dominating the US automobile and consumer electronics industries. There was even that novel by Michael Crichton, Rising Sun, that while entertaining, at times read like the Protocols of the Elders of Tokyo...
    , @Rod1963

    From what I can tell, whites are comfortably ensconced in the middle of the country without too many Asians in competition, so they really don’t need to take AP classes. They really don’t save you that much time in college anymore, particularly good ones.
     
    Also if they don't have "working with your hands if for stupid people" mentality that Asians and upper class whites have. They can take up a trade and make a nice living and not have to worry about being out-sourced or replaced by a Babu or Chinese coolie.

    Sure it's not cool like having a college degree and sitting at a desk all day in some cube farm. But the work is honest and you're not saddled with six figure debt right out of the starting gate.

    To be blunt, with all the frenzy by our elites to replace white workers with lower wage, docile foreigners(docile to management not to us) I really can't see why a smart white boy would take the college route knowing in a decade his job and career will probably be done by some foreigner.
    , @Altai

    One thing that is completely ignored is how many Chinese, Koreans, and Spanish speakers get “credit” for taking tests designed for language learners in their native languages. Pisses me off.
     
    Happened in Ireland. Leaving Cert (Final exam which decides your 'points', which are used to apply to university courses with points for certain courses being more popular being higher, it shifts year by year according to demand, some courses may have prerequisites such as certain levels in Maths or languages.) used to have exams for Irish, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Latin. (And I think the Spanish and Italian only came in the 80s or 90s, nobody at my school did anything else than French or German in addition to the mandatory Irish)

    Now there are all kinds of Eastern and South Eastern European languages which nobody learns in school and the students who take the tests don't study for them either since they are native speakers, so a bunch of free exam points and one fewer exams to take. All the Poles and Russians (Mostly from the Baltic states and thus EU citizens) at my school took them in the leaving cert and essentially got free points. This is not trivial, that is an exam they don't have to take (Most also get off taking the Irish exam which is otherwise mandatory unless you entered the Irish system at a late enough age) that they need to study for, essentially it is an exam they don't have to take which also gives them very high points.

    You can argue that they are still demonstrating they are bilingual which is a far cry from most of even the best performers of natives performing well in language tests, but an Anglophone being able to speak another language demonstrates something much more than a non-Anglophone speaking English living in an Anglophone country. We can debate what these exams are really proxies for, but they are proxies and it doesn't work unless you test everyone on the same basis.

    , @res

    Jay Mathews. Haven’t you ever seen Stand and Deliver, or heard about his Challenge Index?
     
    Thanks for the answer. I saw Stand and Deliver many years ago.

    Glad to see you back here and that comment was a good example of why.
    , @Peter Akuleyev

    One thing that is completely ignored is how many Chinese, Koreans, and Spanish speakers get “credit” for taking tests designed for language learners in their native languages. Pisses me off.
     
    So what? You don't get that much credit for doing well on language AP tests. In a world of unfairness it does seem odd that this particular issue pisses you off. Annoying, maybe, but not really anger worthy.
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  8. Anon says: • Website • Disclaimer

    Students are expected to read college-level textbooks

    Except in hard sciences & advanced math, there is virtually no difference in difficulty between freshman college course and junior-senior high school courses.

    Any reasonably intelligent high school junior or senior can grasp and comprehend anything in freshman yr college books in history, sociology, literature, humanities, and etc.

    AP is a joke.

    I took ONE AP course: US history. I didn’t see how it was any more difficult from my friends who took regular history. The book wasn’t difficult at all. Lecture was utterly comprehensible.
    The ONLY difference was the classroom had more serious students than the other classes. I have no idea why I signed up for that AP class. I was the odd one out cuz I usually didn’t take honors classes.

    I just took regular courses and were happier with the dummies who were less likely to be found with Star Trek novels or talking about Dr. Who.

    But a nephew who AP’d out of his entire freshman year at the U. of Illinois immediately flunked out because his sophomore level engineering courses he took as a freshman were so tough relative to how much xBox he was playing without his mom around to nag him into doing his homework.

    ROTFL. My kind of kid.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Rod1963

    Except in hard sciences & advanced math, there is virtually no difference in difficulty between freshman college course and junior-senior high school courses.

    Any reasonably intelligent high school junior or senior can grasp and comprehend anything in freshman yr college books in history, sociology, literature, humanities, and etc.
     
    Spot on. I was reading the sorts of literature books for fun in the 6th grade that were considered honor's class material in high school.

    The whole notion there are levels of reading is just so much pretentious bullshit. If a 4th grader can read Jules Verne Journey to the Center of the Earth, he should be able to read Lord of the Flies or any college level history books by the 6th grade.

    It makes me wonder why there are AP classes in the first place. Seems to me to be just another version of tracking but under a cool label to make kids and parents feel special or something.
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  9. Yan Shen says:
    @education realist
    "Any idea who pushed the idea of increasing AP classes in those high schools in the first place?"

    Jay Mathews. Haven't you ever seen Stand and Deliver, or heard about his Challenge Index? He and Newsweek started an America's Best High Schools which was derived purely from one metric: how many seniors had taken AP Exams. Taken, not passed. It began in 1998.

    So utter crap schools in the inner city could get ranked as a great high school simply for forcing all their kids to take AP tests after taking AP "classes" that weren't anything like.

    At the same time, California banned affirmative action, so the UC system altered its admission criteria to weight grades as 75% of the overall admissions factor. Since AP classes get a point more in GPA (even without taking the test), this led to a push by Asian American parents to have their kids to take every possible AP they could (and often cheat on the tests), although they care much more about the grade.

    Whites don't care as much about grades, and often times in white/asian schools, there's too many signups for AP classes so it goes to the kids with the highest grades. Which isn't to say that plenty of whites aren't taking APs, too.

    From what I can tell, whites are comfortably ensconced in the middle of the country without too many Asians in competition, so they really don't need to take AP classes. They really don't save you that much time in college anymore, particularly good ones.

    I once did a (very rudimentary) examination of AP preferences by race. It's what you 'd expect.

    Recently, there was much wailing about blacks not taking AP--wrote about it here.

    One thing that is completely ignored is how many Chinese, Koreans, and Spanish speakers get "credit" for taking tests designed for language learners in their native languages. Pisses me off.

    One thing that is completely ignored is how many Chinese, Koreans, and Spanish speakers get “credit” for taking tests designed for language learners in their native languages. Pisses me off.

    Yeah that does seem kind of cheap. On the other hand, do they really benefit from those AP scores in terms of college credit? Seems more like just resume padding?

    By the way, has anyone ever uh pointed out to you that your life’s dedication to whining about Asians “pisses them off”? I’m not necessarily saying that it bothers me, more just wondering if anyone else has been annoyed by it. I haven’t followed a lot of your writing, but from what I’ve skimmed I get the distinct impression that supposed Asian cheating on this or that is one of your big obsessions in life.

    This kind of reminds me of the anti-Japanese hysteria that peaked around the late 1980s and early 1990s in America, when supposedly the Japanese cheated their way to dominating the US automobile and consumer electronics industries. There was even that novel by Michael Crichton, Rising Sun, that while entertaining, at times read like the Protocols of the Elders of Tokyo…

    Read More
    • Replies: @Lot
    So is ER wrong that Asians both prep and cheat more on high stakes tests? That was my observation in college.
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  10. anon says: • Disclaimer
    @Yan Shen

    Advanced Placement tests for high school students are scored as if they were an intro 101 level course at a run-of-the-mill Directional State College. A 3 is equivalent to a C, 4 is a B, a 5 is an A. Many colleges give course credit for scores of 3 or higher, although some are toughening up. Last time I checked, MIT didn’t accept any scores below 5 and Caltech didn’t accept any AP scores at all on the grounds that none of their courses are 101 level.
     
    I've never been a huge fan of the AP tests. Sure getting a 5 on something rigorous like Calc BC or Physics C or the likes requires you to master meaningful material. On the other hand, most of the top schools don't really care all that much about AP exams and you don't get too much credit for them.

    Also, as others here have noted, the scoring isn't particularly fine grained and you can miss quite a bit and still get the highest possible score. There could still be a decent delta in quantitative aptitude between two people who both score a 5 on say the Calc BC exam.

    AP tests are probably most meaningful for, to quote Steve here, people who attend run of the mill state colleges. Or say a school ranked between 30-100 nationally or the likes... I grew up in Houston and it seemed like half my high school class that went on to college went to UT Austin, the other half Texas A&M. Those kids are probably the AP exams' target audience so to speak.

    How can you make yourself stand out potentially to elite colleges? Something that indicates serious high end ability in an area like math, i.e. high AMC or AIME scores or the likes. See the quote below. Anyone smart enough to make USAMO is a serious mathematical talent.

    Caltech and MIT both specifically ask for your best AMC and AIME scores, and the one Ivy I applied to (Yale) explicitly suggested putting them in the Additional Achievements section. A solid score definitely helps your application, as doing well on math contests in general indicates a level of academic dedication and creativity that most standardized tests don't bring out.

     

    Even the AMC and AIME tests are weak compared to the Math Tripos https://www.maths.cam.ac.uk/system/files/paperia_1_0.pdf

    or the JEE https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/iit-jee-subject/iit-jee

    Read More
    • Replies: @Yan Shen
    The tripos is taken by undergrads at Cambridge to receive their BA/BS degrees. AMC and AIME are competitive tests for high school students.

    I'm surprised that Steve hasn't analyzed AMC/AIME/USAMO scores or in general the world of competitive high school tests, as opposed to typically focusing on standardized tests like the SAT/ACT/APs or the likes.

    , @DFH
    Cambridge does actually have a comparable exam that sixth-formers (High School in yank) need to take to get in.
    They are really, really hard. I can't imagine that there's a comparably difficult exam for people of that age anywhere in the world.
    Also (cruelly) they give offers to far more people than they have places for and then let STEP weed out the ones they want.

    https://www.maths.cam.ac.uk/undergrad/admissions/step
    , @dearieme
    They've dumbed down the fresher Tripos courses over the decades. At least they have in physics; the same may be true for maths.
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  11. Yan Shen says:
    @anon
    Even the AMC and AIME tests are weak compared to the Math Tripos https://www.maths.cam.ac.uk/system/files/paperia_1_0.pdf

    or the JEE https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/iit-jee-subject/iit-jee

    The tripos is taken by undergrads at Cambridge to receive their BA/BS degrees. AMC and AIME are competitive tests for high school students.

    I’m surprised that Steve hasn’t analyzed AMC/AIME/USAMO scores or in general the world of competitive high school tests, as opposed to typically focusing on standardized tests like the SAT/ACT/APs or the likes.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AnotherDad

    I’m surprised that Steve hasn’t analyzed AMC/AIME/USAMO scores or in general the world of competitive high school tests, as opposed to typically focusing on standardized tests like the SAT/ACT/APs or the likes.
     
    You can't figure that out?

    If you think you have something actually interesting for Steve with AMC/AIME ... cue it up for him.
    , @Karl
    11 Yan Shen > I’m surprised that Steve hasn’t analyzed AMC/AIME/USAMO scores or in general the world of competitive high school tests, as opposed to


    iSteve has White Man's Syndrome..... read whatever bi-coastal Jews are writing, then bitch about it.
    , @Lot
    I have a groundbreaking analysis of the US Spelling Bee and have concluded that the demographics of the smartest kids in America are 85% Hindu and 15% white homeschoolers.

    I look forward to your similar analysis of the USAMO

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  12. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    This kind of reminds me of the anti-Japanese hysteria that peaked around the late 1980s and early 1990s in America, when supposedly the Japanese cheated their way to dominating the US automobile and consumer electronics industries. There was even that novel by Michael Crichton, Rising Sun, that while entertaining, at times read like the Protocols of the Elders of Tokyo…

    The Japanese sold product below the cost they charged domestic customers and occasionally at or below cost of manufacture to build market share. They figured they would run domestic competition out, and in consumer electronics they did. In automobiles there were two reasons they failed: first, there was a hard core of people that would only buy a domestic car (but had no second thoughts about a Japanese TV, stereo or camera) and secondly the UAW still had enough power that the Japanese, even in the time of Reagan, staved off tariffs only with a ‘voluntary’ restriction on numbers. I did computer work for a Toyota dealer in 1984-85 and they were charging way over list for Toyotas because supply was far under demand for desirable models. You couldn’t get a new Toyota for sticker price unless it was an oddball like a diesel or a bigger four door sedan with a manual transmission. Toyota dealers were making record profits for two or three years.

    Toyotas have in my mind always been reliable but overpriced cars with overpriced parts.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Jack D
    Honda was even worse in terms of the mismatch between supply and demand. In those days the Honda dealers wouldn't even let you test drive a car. In part this was due to "voluntary" restrictions on imports but even after they built a US factory Hondas rarely pile up on the dealer lots the way American cars do. US automakers have excess capacity that they use to crank out the sales in good years and then in bad years they close down factories. Honda limits their capacity so that they never have factories that sit idle in bad years.

    As far as "overpriced" , there's no doubt that you'll pay more for a comparable Toyota than say a Dodge/Chrysler based on actual out the door pricing after discounts, manuf. cash back, etc. Market prices reflect the judgment of the market as to value. Sure a Camry would cost you more than a Dodge up front but would it cost you more after 10 years of ownership? Back in the "Malaise Era" it would have been even worse - the 10 year old Toyota would still have a lot of life in it (especially in a place where they don't salt the roads such as California which was their 1st big market) while the 10 year old K-Car would be falling to pieces - the tranny would have blown, etc. Sometimes not in 10 years but soon after the warranty ran out. There are literally millions of stories from that time that involve some tale of woe involving an American car and end with " and that's why I'll never buy a [Ford, Chrysler, Chevy, etc.] again. The Japanese did not win customers so much as the Big 3 lost them.
    , @dearieme
    "The Japanese sold product ... occasionally at or below cost of manufacture to build market share. " .....
    "a Toyota dealer in 1984-85 and they were charging way over list"

    So the Japanese both overcharged and undercharged. Subtle blighters these orientals.

    , @Ivy
    Many car dealers succumb to short-term thinking when they have what they perceive to be a hot seller. They would rather book a sale now and take their chances on future sales, based in their variation on the mantra IBG-YBG.

    "We're keeping those for our best customers." (Which you aren't, and we don't value you, screw you)
    "Some buyers are paying $X over sticker." (We don't need to negotiate, at least right now, screw you)
    "We can't buy your business, we have to earn your business." (From the dealer douchebag trying to make me feel like the bad guy when I didn't want to pay 15% more for an identical car available at a competitor, screw you)

    I've told dealer reps that overplayed their hand that they are selling commodities, and I can buy many cars in my lifetime from them or from only about a zillion other dealers, or go through a broker, or through their own fleet or internet sales guy, for example. The smarter dealers look to build in longer term relationships, to reduce the acquisition cost, to try to get repeat business and family business, and to make it somewhat more likely that their service department will see some revenue. It isn't rocket science.
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  13. Rod1963 says:
    @education realist
    "Any idea who pushed the idea of increasing AP classes in those high schools in the first place?"

    Jay Mathews. Haven't you ever seen Stand and Deliver, or heard about his Challenge Index? He and Newsweek started an America's Best High Schools which was derived purely from one metric: how many seniors had taken AP Exams. Taken, not passed. It began in 1998.

    So utter crap schools in the inner city could get ranked as a great high school simply for forcing all their kids to take AP tests after taking AP "classes" that weren't anything like.

    At the same time, California banned affirmative action, so the UC system altered its admission criteria to weight grades as 75% of the overall admissions factor. Since AP classes get a point more in GPA (even without taking the test), this led to a push by Asian American parents to have their kids to take every possible AP they could (and often cheat on the tests), although they care much more about the grade.

    Whites don't care as much about grades, and often times in white/asian schools, there's too many signups for AP classes so it goes to the kids with the highest grades. Which isn't to say that plenty of whites aren't taking APs, too.

    From what I can tell, whites are comfortably ensconced in the middle of the country without too many Asians in competition, so they really don't need to take AP classes. They really don't save you that much time in college anymore, particularly good ones.

    I once did a (very rudimentary) examination of AP preferences by race. It's what you 'd expect.

    Recently, there was much wailing about blacks not taking AP--wrote about it here.

    One thing that is completely ignored is how many Chinese, Koreans, and Spanish speakers get "credit" for taking tests designed for language learners in their native languages. Pisses me off.

    From what I can tell, whites are comfortably ensconced in the middle of the country without too many Asians in competition, so they really don’t need to take AP classes. They really don’t save you that much time in college anymore, particularly good ones.

    Also if they don’t have “working with your hands if for stupid people” mentality that Asians and upper class whites have. They can take up a trade and make a nice living and not have to worry about being out-sourced or replaced by a Babu or Chinese coolie.

    Sure it’s not cool like having a college degree and sitting at a desk all day in some cube farm. But the work is honest and you’re not saddled with six figure debt right out of the starting gate.

    To be blunt, with all the frenzy by our elites to replace white workers with lower wage, docile foreigners(docile to management not to us) I really can’t see why a smart white boy would take the college route knowing in a decade his job and career will probably be done by some foreigner.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AnotherDad

    To be blunt, with all the frenzy by our elites to replace white workers with lower wage, docile foreigners(docile to management not to us) I really can’t see why a smart white boy would take the college route knowing in a decade his job and career will probably be done by some foreigner.
     
    You really can't see it? Seriously?

    If a smart kid is interested in a trade--that's really what he's jazzed to do--then go for it. I do think that's a better route than some sort of bullshit college degree. (E.g. "communications".)

    But there's a big bucket of other stuff out there to do--in fact precisely the stuff that most smart white boys want to do--for which going to college and learning some stuff, or at least going to college and getting your ticket punched--is absolutely necessary. For instance, my "smart white boy" wanted to do engineering. Now he's out there learning about what day-to-day engineering and corporate life is actually like. What he'll do down the road--hard to say. But he couldn't have gotten his foot in the door without the college degree.

    And btw folks working in the trades are very much subject to replacement as well. If you can get a business up and running in a white area and develop a decent set of neighborly contacts--great, you can probably make a good go of it. But they'll be foreigners brought in to do those things as well.

    The very simple truth is if the US labor market is open to the world ... then everyone is subject to replacement.

    The US is awesome because of the overall capabilities, character and culture of white guys working in a resource rich environment. (I.e. its a racial/cultural group project.) But there is virtually no *individual* for whom an adequate labor substitute is not available out there somewhere in the world.
    , @Luke Lea
    "sitting at a desk all day in some cube farm."

    Cube farm -- nice term!
    , @Kaz
    You can just send your kid to a local flagship university and come out with no debt... Unless you live in one of those awful states where in-state tuition is like 20k/yr..
    , @cthulhu


    To be blunt, with all the frenzy by our elites to replace white workers with lower wage, docile foreigners(docile to management not to us) I really can’t see why a smart white boy would take the college route knowing in a decade his job and career will probably be done by some foreigner.

     

    I keep telling people...go into aerospace, mechanical, or electrical engineering, or some useful kinds of physics like optics and lasers, or applied math with emphasis on statistics and probability, or a really good computer science program where you get down and dirty with the hardware, then go into the defense industry. The vast majority of positions require US citizenship and a security clearance, and outsourcing is essentially never an issue. If you're good, you can get paid well even if you stay on the technical track and don't go into management. Just stay off the weed; marijuana is still illegal at the federal level and can screw up your getting a security clearance :-)
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  14. eah says:

    low-income majority black and Latino high schools

    Probably, yes.

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  15. Rod1963 says:
    @Anon
    Students are expected to read college-level textbooks

    Except in hard sciences & advanced math, there is virtually no difference in difficulty between freshman college course and junior-senior high school courses.

    Any reasonably intelligent high school junior or senior can grasp and comprehend anything in freshman yr college books in history, sociology, literature, humanities, and etc.

    AP is a joke.

    I took ONE AP course: US history. I didn't see how it was any more difficult from my friends who took regular history. The book wasn't difficult at all. Lecture was utterly comprehensible.
    The ONLY difference was the classroom had more serious students than the other classes. I have no idea why I signed up for that AP class. I was the odd one out cuz I usually didn't take honors classes.

    I just took regular courses and were happier with the dummies who were less likely to be found with Star Trek novels or talking about Dr. Who.

    But a nephew who AP’d out of his entire freshman year at the U. of Illinois immediately flunked out because his sophomore level engineering courses he took as a freshman were so tough relative to how much xBox he was playing without his mom around to nag him into doing his homework.

    ROTFL. My kind of kid.

    Except in hard sciences & advanced math, there is virtually no difference in difficulty between freshman college course and junior-senior high school courses.

    Any reasonably intelligent high school junior or senior can grasp and comprehend anything in freshman yr college books in history, sociology, literature, humanities, and etc.

    Spot on. I was reading the sorts of literature books for fun in the 6th grade that were considered honor’s class material in high school.

    The whole notion there are levels of reading is just so much pretentious bullshit. If a 4th grader can read Jules Verne Journey to the Center of the Earth, he should be able to read Lord of the Flies or any college level history books by the 6th grade.

    It makes me wonder why there are AP classes in the first place. Seems to me to be just another version of tracking but under a cool label to make kids and parents feel special or something.

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  16. anon says: • Disclaimer

    I’m in favor of it. There are lots of high schools without a solid college prep track and AP is a cheap way to offer this curriculum. As far as cost — since we have local control of schools we have thousands of districts developing their own curriculum. Which is a lot of administrators. And who cares if the College Board gets the money instead of textbook publishers?

    There are enough kids that can really benefit from this that it doesn’t really matter if it is irrelevant to elite (top 30) colleges or just another failed intervention for disadvantaged students.

    The notion that they are the secret sauce of elite school districts reminds me of the period of ‘digital divide’ and that if only the bad schools got new computers — we would have equality.

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    • Agree: Lot
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  17. “By the way, has anyone ever uh pointed out to you that your life’s dedication to whining about Asians “pisses them off”? I’m not necessarily saying that it bothers me, more just wondering if anyone else has been annoyed by it. I haven’t followed a lot of your writing, but from what I’ve skimmed I get the distinct impression that supposed Asian cheating on this or that is one of your big obsessions in life.”

    If you only skim, then what on earth makes you think you know about my life’s dedication?

    It’s what I’m likely to post about here, because Steve will often comment about education issues and race, and it’s often one that people here forget about.

    But I’ve only got one post that addresses the issue from a negative standpoint. The rest are about unintended consequences as well as my considerable positive experience working with a very nearly 100% Asian immigrant population, kids I’m very fond of. It’s fine if you aren’t going to read more, but acknowledge your own ignorance and stop characterizing my writing.”

    Rod,

    Yeah, no. That’s idiotic. Rich midwestern white kids don’t have parents who think it’s fine to be plumbers.

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  18. “I’m surprised that Steve hasn’t analyzed AMC/AIME/USAMO scores or in general the world of competitive high school tests, as opposed to typically focusing on standardized tests like the SAT/ACT/APs or the likes.”

    Because who gives a damn about tests taken by a fringe of a fraction of a percentage point of a population? The only thing worth observing, which Steve does, is the race of the students.

    But to draw conclusions about US high school students, you need a reasonable sample size.

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  19. Yan Shen says:

    Because who gives a shit about tests taken by a fringe of a fraction of a percentage point of a population?

    https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372

    https://amc-reg.maa.org/reports/generalreports.aspx

    Looks like most recently for 2017 there were about 15 million students in high school grades 9 through 12. Judging by the number of people who took the AMC 10/12 on both of the testing dates in 2017, there were about 150,000 or so. So it looks like 1% of the overall relevant population took the test. Obviously not all schools offer it, etc etc.

    Competitive high school tests are more interesting than standardized high school tests in terms of identifying tail end talent. For instance, getting an 800 on the SAT math or a 5 on the calc BC isn’t super informative, given the relatively low ceilings on those tests, but seeing how well one does on say AMC/AIME/USAMO/IMO, or wherever in that funnel you drop off, can actually be pretty interesting.

    But I’ve only got one post that addresses the issue from a negative standpoint.

    Kind of like how the uh white Ta Nehisi Coates has only written one article explicitly about being white! Maybe your moniker should be the female John Derbyshire.

    Given how much wine you gulp to down that cheese, I’m a little skeptical that you’re particularly fond of anything outside of your pet causes, but like you said, what would I know!

    Read More
    • Replies: @Cloud of Probable Matricide
    Yer morphing into Yellow Tiny Duck, fam.
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  20. DFH says:
    @anon
    Even the AMC and AIME tests are weak compared to the Math Tripos https://www.maths.cam.ac.uk/system/files/paperia_1_0.pdf

    or the JEE https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/iit-jee-subject/iit-jee

    Cambridge does actually have a comparable exam that sixth-formers (High School in yank) need to take to get in.
    They are really, really hard. I can’t imagine that there’s a comparably difficult exam for people of that age anywhere in the world.
    Also (cruelly) they give offers to far more people than they have places for and then let STEP weed out the ones they want.

    https://www.maths.cam.ac.uk/undergrad/admissions/step

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    • Replies: @res
    That is for math majors only, right? It might be cruel (do you have more details on the admissions process and the timing of the weeding out?), but it seems like a good way to select for students likely to succeed at high level math. I wonder how it compares to Math Olympiad, etc. type tests in utility for selection. Presumably someone at Cambridge would have a decent answer for that question.

    I thought the "Why Step?" section at your link was informative and aligns somewhat with the benefits of AP classes.

    Cambridge Colleges like to make offers involving STEP for the following main reasons:

    1. STEP is a far better predictor of success in the Mathematical Tripos than A-levels. One reason for this is that the questions are less standard and less structured, which helps to distinguish between ability (or potential) and good teaching.
    2. Preparation for STEP serves as useful preparation for our course.
    3. The STEP marks and the scripts themselves are available for inspection by college staff. This means that it is possible to make allowances for a near miss and to make judgements on the actual work rather than on just the marks or grades.
    4.The meaning of A-level grades may differ significantly between the different boards, so STEP provides a fairer 'across the board' comparison.

    Many other universities recommend that their mathematics applicants practise on past STEP papers as preparation for university-style mathematics, and some encourage applicants to take STEP papers and may take STEP results into account.
     
    , @Anonymous
    These are the past STEP papers in maths for entry to Cambridge:
    http://www.admissionstestingservice.org/for-test-takers/step/preparing-for-step/

    This is a question from paper 2, 1998 (A levels are the standard exams that school students at this age take):
    The diagnostic test AL has a probability 0.9 of giving a positive result when applied to a
    person suffering from the rare disease mathematitis. It also has a probability 1/11 of giving a
    false positive result when applied to a non-sufferer. It is known that only 1% of the population
    suffer from the disease. Given that the test AL is positive when applied to Frankie, who is
    chosen at random from the population, what is the probability that Frankie is a sufferer?

    In an attempt to identify sufferers more accurately, a second diagnostic test STEP is given
    to those for whom the test AL gave a positive result. The probablility of STEP giving a
    positive result on a sufferer is 0.9, and the probability that it gives a false positive result on a
    non-sufferer is p. Half of those for whom AL was positive and on whom STEP then also gives
    a positive result are sufferers. Find p.
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  21. @Yan Shen
    The tripos is taken by undergrads at Cambridge to receive their BA/BS degrees. AMC and AIME are competitive tests for high school students.

    I'm surprised that Steve hasn't analyzed AMC/AIME/USAMO scores or in general the world of competitive high school tests, as opposed to typically focusing on standardized tests like the SAT/ACT/APs or the likes.

    I’m surprised that Steve hasn’t analyzed AMC/AIME/USAMO scores or in general the world of competitive high school tests, as opposed to typically focusing on standardized tests like the SAT/ACT/APs or the likes.

    You can’t figure that out?

    If you think you have something actually interesting for Steve with AMC/AIME … cue it up for him.

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  22. @Rod1963

    From what I can tell, whites are comfortably ensconced in the middle of the country without too many Asians in competition, so they really don’t need to take AP classes. They really don’t save you that much time in college anymore, particularly good ones.
     
    Also if they don't have "working with your hands if for stupid people" mentality that Asians and upper class whites have. They can take up a trade and make a nice living and not have to worry about being out-sourced or replaced by a Babu or Chinese coolie.

    Sure it's not cool like having a college degree and sitting at a desk all day in some cube farm. But the work is honest and you're not saddled with six figure debt right out of the starting gate.

    To be blunt, with all the frenzy by our elites to replace white workers with lower wage, docile foreigners(docile to management not to us) I really can't see why a smart white boy would take the college route knowing in a decade his job and career will probably be done by some foreigner.

    To be blunt, with all the frenzy by our elites to replace white workers with lower wage, docile foreigners(docile to management not to us) I really can’t see why a smart white boy would take the college route knowing in a decade his job and career will probably be done by some foreigner.

    You really can’t see it? Seriously?

    If a smart kid is interested in a trade–that’s really what he’s jazzed to do–then go for it. I do think that’s a better route than some sort of bullshit college degree. (E.g. “communications”.)

    But there’s a big bucket of other stuff out there to do–in fact precisely the stuff that most smart white boys want to do–for which going to college and learning some stuff, or at least going to college and getting your ticket punched–is absolutely necessary. For instance, my “smart white boy” wanted to do engineering. Now he’s out there learning about what day-to-day engineering and corporate life is actually like. What he’ll do down the road–hard to say. But he couldn’t have gotten his foot in the door without the college degree.

    And btw folks working in the trades are very much subject to replacement as well. If you can get a business up and running in a white area and develop a decent set of neighborly contacts–great, you can probably make a good go of it. But they’ll be foreigners brought in to do those things as well.

    The very simple truth is if the US labor market is open to the world … then everyone is subject to replacement.

    The US is awesome because of the overall capabilities, character and culture of white guys working in a resource rich environment. (I.e. its a racial/cultural group project.) But there is virtually no *individual* for whom an adequate labor substitute is not available out there somewhere in the world.

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    • Replies: @Jack D
    Mediocrities are a dime a dozen and are available in all shapes and colors. But real talent is rare and usually gets recognized one way or another - corporations are out there laying off their BOTTOM 10% every year, not their top 10%. Even if someone truly talented gets caught up in the purges, they can land on their feet somewhere.

    Of course, this is sort of trivial advice, like saying that the best way to succeed on a dating site is to be really attractive.

    But, what this really means is that you should pick some field where you can really excel. Better to be a really excellent HVAC tech than a mediocre engineer.
    , @Opinionator
    The US is awesome because of the overall capabilities, character and culture of white guys working in a resource rich environment. (I.e. its a racial/cultural group project.)

    In context, I understand why you wrote "racial/cultural" project. What is the significance of the "group" qualifier?
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  23. Yan Shen says:
    @Yan Shen

    Advanced Placement tests for high school students are scored as if they were an intro 101 level course at a run-of-the-mill Directional State College. A 3 is equivalent to a C, 4 is a B, a 5 is an A. Many colleges give course credit for scores of 3 or higher, although some are toughening up. Last time I checked, MIT didn’t accept any scores below 5 and Caltech didn’t accept any AP scores at all on the grounds that none of their courses are 101 level.
     
    I've never been a huge fan of the AP tests. Sure getting a 5 on something rigorous like Calc BC or Physics C or the likes requires you to master meaningful material. On the other hand, most of the top schools don't really care all that much about AP exams and you don't get too much credit for them.

    Also, as others here have noted, the scoring isn't particularly fine grained and you can miss quite a bit and still get the highest possible score. There could still be a decent delta in quantitative aptitude between two people who both score a 5 on say the Calc BC exam.

    AP tests are probably most meaningful for, to quote Steve here, people who attend run of the mill state colleges. Or say a school ranked between 30-100 nationally or the likes... I grew up in Houston and it seemed like half my high school class that went on to college went to UT Austin, the other half Texas A&M. Those kids are probably the AP exams' target audience so to speak.

    How can you make yourself stand out potentially to elite colleges? Something that indicates serious high end ability in an area like math, i.e. high AMC or AIME scores or the likes. See the quote below. Anyone smart enough to make USAMO is a serious mathematical talent.

    Caltech and MIT both specifically ask for your best AMC and AIME scores, and the one Ivy I applied to (Yale) explicitly suggested putting them in the Additional Achievements section. A solid score definitely helps your application, as doing well on math contests in general indicates a level of academic dedication and creativity that most standardized tests don't bring out.

     

    https://www.quora.com/Approximately-what-percentage-of-USAMO-qualifiers-get-into-Harvard-MIT-and-other-top-schools

    Anecdotally, for domestic USAMO qualifiers, around 90% of applicants are admitted to MIT and around 30% are admitted to Harvard.

    This is consistent with the fact that MIT admissions weights STEM awards higher than Harvard admissions, which seems to prioritize well-roundedness.

    Anecdotal data, so take it with a grain of salt. But consistent with what I’ve heard in general about schools like MIT and Caltech basically viewing you extremely favorably if you’re able to accomplish something like qualify for the USAMO. Also, MIT’s been on a bit of a tear in Putnam also recently, IIRC, so in general they tend to look favorably upon these kinds of things.

    In general, I’m pretty bullish on AP tests, and feel they should be given more weight in college admissions. They have advantages over high school grades (they’re nationally consistent) and advantages over SAT/ACT tests (if kids are going to prep endlessly for a test, they might as well learn something in the process). But the tests are only given in May of each year, which limits their utility for college applications. There should be one semester AP tests in popular subject given in early December each year with grading done over the Christmas vacation to be ready for college applications due on January 1.

    Kinda sorta agree, but also disagree. They’re definitely more consistent than high school grades,
    but to me there are drawbacks. AP exams are useful if say you can get a 5 on a calc BC exam and get credit for some introductory calc class in college, but I wonder if maybe some of the less widely accepted tests can be rid of. For instance in just looking at a handful of top schools, I see that usually stuff like English Language/Literature, US History, World History, Government, Geography or the likes don’t receive any credit. I suspect that pushing additional NAMs into taking AP classes is probably also disproportionately towards the histories and geographies as opposed to say physics C or calc BC or the likes.

    Yeah for sure getting a 5 on physics C mechanics and e&m probably says something useful about your quantitative aptitude and or conscientiousness, but I still feel like 1) 1-5 scale isn’t discriminatory enough and 2) surely the SAT is more g-loaded than AP exams and less amenable to prep? How g-loaded is an AP history exam for instance compared to the SAT verbal?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Yan Shen
    Sorry I ran out of time to edit my previous comment so let me try to summarize my thoughts a bit more succinctly here. Here's why I'm not as bullish on the AP exams as Steve is.

    First, one of the main drawbacks with the AP exams is that the 1-5 scoring threshold simply isn't discriminatory enough. On many AP tests you can miss a decent number of problems and still score a 5. Two people who both scored a 5 on the Calc BC exam can actually differ significantly in terms of quantitative aptitude. IIRC at my high school back in the day, there were people who scored a 5 on the Calc BC who scored in the low 700s on the SAT math, also another test with a relatively low ceiling. I'm sure if you look at actual SAT math scores versus Calc BC scores, there are probably people who scored below a 700 on SAT math who were still able to get a 5.

    Second, not all tests seem to me to be equally useful or accepted by colleges. As I stated in my previous comment, in skimming a handful of the top colleges, I see that usually stuff like US History, World History, US Government and Politics, English Language, English Literature, etc. don't receive any college credit. I suspect that blacks and Hispanics who are being pushed to take additional AP exams probably gravitate disproportionately towards subjects as opposed to say Calc BC or Physics C. I would personally push to cull some of these tests and focus more on the more useful and relevant subject areas.

    Third, when most colleges try to assess students, what they typically want to estimate is 1) how smart a person is and 2) how hard working and conscientious they are. The typical argument is that the SAT is a relatively g-loaded exam and not significantly amenable to test prep, although I'm sure some of that effect exists. I see AP exams as being less a measure of innate aptitude than a purely cognitive test and more a reflection of how well you've prepped for the particular content, although the extent of this obviously depends on the particular AP test at hand.

    Do you really think for instance that AP US History is more g-loaded than the SAT verbal? On the other hand, I could definitely see Physics C being more g-loaded than say US Government and Politics. Given the current state that AP tests are in, the best approach is to view them as an additional data point along with SAT scores and grades, rather than favoring them over the other two.

    , @Jack D
    You have to understand how the game is played at a place like MIT. They are driven 1st and foremost by their need to come up with a sufficient # of marginally qualified women and minorities. BUT they are also driven by their need to keep their averages up for US NEWS and other rankings (and to have enough people so that they can still have a 1st rate math & physics dept. ) Thirdly they are driven by their need to differentiate between all the highly academically qualified but otherwise indistinguishable Asian candidates. So you let in 1 black guy with 700 SATs and counterbalance him with 2 Asian guys with 800s to keep your average at 766.

    So when you put this all through the sausage factory (it's not pretty) you end up with a situation where if you are a black female then they don't care whether you are a USAMO qualifier or not (good thing because black female USAMO qualifiers are as rare as hen's teeth) but if you are a nerdy Asian male then USAMO is definitely a plus.

    Unfortunately, a lot of Asians take this to mean that they should be even more nerdy than they already are. I'll do USAMO and ten more math contests too - as many as I can find to show them that I am REALLY smart. While USAMO is a plus, if they could do some non-stereotypically Asian thing (say excel at some sport or at musical theater or something) then MIT would like them even more. MIT grits its teeth and takes the colorless nerdy Asian USAMO kids because they need a certain # of them and if you are going to take a nerd you might as well take a supernerd but that's not who the liberals who run the admission office really love.

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  24. Karl says:
    @Yan Shen
    The tripos is taken by undergrads at Cambridge to receive their BA/BS degrees. AMC and AIME are competitive tests for high school students.

    I'm surprised that Steve hasn't analyzed AMC/AIME/USAMO scores or in general the world of competitive high school tests, as opposed to typically focusing on standardized tests like the SAT/ACT/APs or the likes.

    11 Yan Shen > I’m surprised that Steve hasn’t analyzed AMC/AIME/USAMO scores or in general the world of competitive high school tests, as opposed to

    iSteve has White Man’s Syndrome….. read whatever bi-coastal Jews are writing, then bitch about it.

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  25. Yan Shen says:
    @Yan Shen
    https://www.quora.com/Approximately-what-percentage-of-USAMO-qualifiers-get-into-Harvard-MIT-and-other-top-schools

    Anecdotally, for domestic USAMO qualifiers, around 90% of applicants are admitted to MIT and around 30% are admitted to Harvard.

    This is consistent with the fact that MIT admissions weights STEM awards higher than Harvard admissions, which seems to prioritize well-roundedness.
     
    Anecdotal data, so take it with a grain of salt. But consistent with what I've heard in general about schools like MIT and Caltech basically viewing you extremely favorably if you're able to accomplish something like qualify for the USAMO. Also, MIT's been on a bit of a tear in Putnam also recently, IIRC, so in general they tend to look favorably upon these kinds of things.


    In general, I’m pretty bullish on AP tests, and feel they should be given more weight in college admissions. They have advantages over high school grades (they’re nationally consistent) and advantages over SAT/ACT tests (if kids are going to prep endlessly for a test, they might as well learn something in the process). But the tests are only given in May of each year, which limits their utility for college applications. There should be one semester AP tests in popular subject given in early December each year with grading done over the Christmas vacation to be ready for college applications due on January 1.
     
    Kinda sorta agree, but also disagree. They're definitely more consistent than high school grades,
    but to me there are drawbacks. AP exams are useful if say you can get a 5 on a calc BC exam and get credit for some introductory calc class in college, but I wonder if maybe some of the less widely accepted tests can be rid of. For instance in just looking at a handful of top schools, I see that usually stuff like English Language/Literature, US History, World History, Government, Geography or the likes don't receive any credit. I suspect that pushing additional NAMs into taking AP classes is probably also disproportionately towards the histories and geographies as opposed to say physics C or calc BC or the likes.

    Yeah for sure getting a 5 on physics C mechanics and e&m probably says something useful about your quantitative aptitude and or conscientiousness, but I still feel like 1) 1-5 scale isn't discriminatory enough and 2) surely the SAT is more g-loaded than AP exams and less amenable to prep? How g-loaded is an AP history exam for instance compared to the SAT verbal?

    Sorry I ran out of time to edit my previous comment so let me try to summarize my thoughts a bit more succinctly here. Here’s why I’m not as bullish on the AP exams as Steve is.

    First, one of the main drawbacks with the AP exams is that the 1-5 scoring threshold simply isn’t discriminatory enough. On many AP tests you can miss a decent number of problems and still score a 5. Two people who both scored a 5 on the Calc BC exam can actually differ significantly in terms of quantitative aptitude. IIRC at my high school back in the day, there were people who scored a 5 on the Calc BC who scored in the low 700s on the SAT math, also another test with a relatively low ceiling. I’m sure if you look at actual SAT math scores versus Calc BC scores, there are probably people who scored below a 700 on SAT math who were still able to get a 5.

    Second, not all tests seem to me to be equally useful or accepted by colleges. As I stated in my previous comment, in skimming a handful of the top colleges, I see that usually stuff like US History, World History, US Government and Politics, English Language, English Literature, etc. don’t receive any college credit. I suspect that blacks and Hispanics who are being pushed to take additional AP exams probably gravitate disproportionately towards subjects as opposed to say Calc BC or Physics C. I would personally push to cull some of these tests and focus more on the more useful and relevant subject areas.

    Third, when most colleges try to assess students, what they typically want to estimate is 1) how smart a person is and 2) how hard working and conscientious they are. The typical argument is that the SAT is a relatively g-loaded exam and not significantly amenable to test prep, although I’m sure some of that effect exists. I see AP exams as being less a measure of innate aptitude than a purely cognitive test and more a reflection of how well you’ve prepped for the particular content, although the extent of this obviously depends on the particular AP test at hand.

    Do you really think for instance that AP US History is more g-loaded than the SAT verbal? On the other hand, I could definitely see Physics C being more g-loaded than say US Government and Politics. Given the current state that AP tests are in, the best approach is to view them as an additional data point along with SAT scores and grades, rather than favoring them over the other two.

    Read More
    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    Yan Shen wrote:

    I see AP exams as being less a measure of innate aptitude than a purely cognitive test and more a reflection of how well you’ve prepped for the particular content, although the extent of this obviously depends on the particular AP test at hand.
     
    Precisely.

    Of course, those of us who are really "test-wise" -- good at seeing through the "gotcha" questions, etc. -- can do better than we deserve on almost any test. I was one of those kids, and perhaps Steve's sons are also.

    I'd like to think that being super-test-wise is a sign of high intelligence, but I'm beginning to wonder if it isn't closer to being an idiot savant!

    Dave
    , @Jack D
    The purpose of the AP Tests (and more importantly the whole AP system) is not to give colleges an additional data point on who to admit.

    Its purpose (which of course is getting lost like a lot of things - modern America has totally lost sight of the ball in so many different ways and places that it's not even funny - in fact when we inevitably run out of steam it will all be seen as tragic by future historians) is to give advanced high school students the ability to study college freshman level material while they are still in high school. Students who can take such a course and get a 4 or a 5 (in some mediocre schools a 3) on the test, equivalent to scoring an A or a B, should be able to skip the equivalent freshman level course in college (and sometimes get credit for same) and proceed directly to the 200 level course. That's it -that's the whole purpose. Advanced PLACEMENT - that's it. The rest is all BS driven by our crazy racial politics and other nonsense.
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  26. AnonAnon says:

    If you are a top student you are kind of forced to take APs these days to be competitive with other top students, particularly here in California. My son took 14 APs (11 exams), which was about par with the top 10% at his school.

    Though I think taking a full schedule of APs last year helped my son get a bit of a “sneak peak” of the workload in his first year of engineering school, I’m most happy that his credits will help him skip the bulk of garbage progressive programming “General Education” classes (e.g., studying US History nowadays apparently includes paying “particular attention to how race, class, and gender shaped changing definitions of freedom and equality”, according to the class catalog).

    It’s interesting to me how most high school full-year AP courses result in only one semester’s worth of credit these days. When I took AP US History and AP Bio eons ago I got credit for 4 courses/14 credits, or about one semester’s worth of college. My AP calc teacher covered the equivalent of two and a half semesters worth of calc at my college, but in my son’s year-long AP classes they seem to be done with coursework in February and then spend two months practicing for the May exam. I suspect teachers at our high school get some sort of bonus for kids who take the exam and score well, too. My son wasn’t going to take the AP Chemistry exam because we misread the credit matrix issued by the college and didn’t think it would count towards his degree but his teacher emailed him urging him to sign up. She knew he would most likely score a 4 or 5 so I’m sure that is why she reached out to him.

    I wouldn’t think too badly of your nephew, Steve. Sophomore year is when engineering starts to get very hard, even for kids who had freshman year to get used to the workload of college. He obviously got bad advice to take credit for all his math and science classes.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    My older son went to a pretty good private high school which had a lot of AP courses and my younger son went to a really good private high school that refused to call courses AP because one of the benefits of teaching at that high school is you get to make up your own curriculum. They both took a lot of AP tests and both did well.

    One thing to keep in mind is that you don't have to take a course in the subject to take the AP test. For example, both boys passed AP Comparative Government even though there schools didn't offer a course in it. I think my wife called up the local super-school, Harvard-Westlake (e.g., Charlie Munger, the brains behind Warren Buffett, is on the Board of Trustees), and of course they were administering pretty much every AP test ever invented. And, perhaps more strikingly, they were very gracious and accommodating to a student at a different school dropping by to take the Comparative Government test. (In my limited experience with Harvard-Westlake in recent years, asking 3 or 4 favors of them, all the people who work there have been very nice toward outsiders. My impression is that most people are too intimidated to ask favors of them.

    But it's also that H-W, as SoCal's top school, hires top people: if you go back 15 years, the back-of-the-book section of the Atlantic Monthly at its peak was run by people with connections to H-W, like Benjamin Schwarz and Caitlin Flanagan. I frequently give Matthew Weiner, the creator of "Mad Men," a hard time about his not wholly objective perceptions of his years at Harvard-Westlake as a student and a teacher, but ... still, he's the creator of "Mad Men."

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  27. @Yan Shen

    Because who gives a shit about tests taken by a fringe of a fraction of a percentage point of a population?
     
    https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372
    https://amc-reg.maa.org/reports/generalreports.aspx

    Looks like most recently for 2017 there were about 15 million students in high school grades 9 through 12. Judging by the number of people who took the AMC 10/12 on both of the testing dates in 2017, there were about 150,000 or so. So it looks like 1% of the overall relevant population took the test. Obviously not all schools offer it, etc etc.

    Competitive high school tests are more interesting than standardized high school tests in terms of identifying tail end talent. For instance, getting an 800 on the SAT math or a 5 on the calc BC isn't super informative, given the relatively low ceilings on those tests, but seeing how well one does on say AMC/AIME/USAMO/IMO, or wherever in that funnel you drop off, can actually be pretty interesting.


    But I’ve only got one post that addresses the issue from a negative standpoint.
     
    Kind of like how the uh white Ta Nehisi Coates has only written one article explicitly about being white! Maybe your moniker should be the female John Derbyshire.

    Given how much wine you gulp to down that cheese, I'm a little skeptical that you're particularly fond of anything outside of your pet causes, but like you said, what would I know!

    Yer morphing into Yellow Tiny Duck, fam.

    Read More
    • Agree: Carneades, Triumph104
    • Replies: @Yan Shen
    Haha I doubt it. I'm not particularly big on left wing theories about privilege and this or that.

    Think of me as a classical proponent of HBD with sane and sensible political leanings For the most part, I want the best for this country realistically speaking. I'm neither a fan of PC nor of rabid ethnic nationalism.

    In other words, I'm basically the best of all possible worlds, Dr. Pangloss! (Or maybe in some alternative universe and timeline, I'm basically the Lee Kuan Yew there.)

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  28. @AnonAnon
    If you are a top student you are kind of forced to take APs these days to be competitive with other top students, particularly here in California. My son took 14 APs (11 exams), which was about par with the top 10% at his school.

    Though I think taking a full schedule of APs last year helped my son get a bit of a "sneak peak" of the workload in his first year of engineering school, I'm most happy that his credits will help him skip the bulk of garbage progressive programming "General Education" classes (e.g., studying US History nowadays apparently includes paying "particular attention to how race, class, and gender shaped changing definitions of freedom and equality", according to the class catalog).

    It's interesting to me how most high school full-year AP courses result in only one semester's worth of credit these days. When I took AP US History and AP Bio eons ago I got credit for 4 courses/14 credits, or about one semester's worth of college. My AP calc teacher covered the equivalent of two and a half semesters worth of calc at my college, but in my son's year-long AP classes they seem to be done with coursework in February and then spend two months practicing for the May exam. I suspect teachers at our high school get some sort of bonus for kids who take the exam and score well, too. My son wasn't going to take the AP Chemistry exam because we misread the credit matrix issued by the college and didn't think it would count towards his degree but his teacher emailed him urging him to sign up. She knew he would most likely score a 4 or 5 so I'm sure that is why she reached out to him.

    I wouldn't think too badly of your nephew, Steve. Sophomore year is when engineering starts to get very hard, even for kids who had freshman year to get used to the workload of college. He obviously got bad advice to take credit for all his math and science classes.

    My older son went to a pretty good private high school which had a lot of AP courses and my younger son went to a really good private high school that refused to call courses AP because one of the benefits of teaching at that high school is you get to make up your own curriculum. They both took a lot of AP tests and both did well.

    One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to take a course in the subject to take the AP test. For example, both boys passed AP Comparative Government even though there schools didn’t offer a course in it. I think my wife called up the local super-school, Harvard-Westlake (e.g., Charlie Munger, the brains behind Warren Buffett, is on the Board of Trustees), and of course they were administering pretty much every AP test ever invented. And, perhaps more strikingly, they were very gracious and accommodating to a student at a different school dropping by to take the Comparative Government test. (In my limited experience with Harvard-Westlake in recent years, asking 3 or 4 favors of them, all the people who work there have been very nice toward outsiders. My impression is that most people are too intimidated to ask favors of them.

    But it’s also that H-W, as SoCal’s top school, hires top people: if you go back 15 years, the back-of-the-book section of the Atlantic Monthly at its peak was run by people with connections to H-W, like Benjamin Schwarz and Caitlin Flanagan. I frequently give Matthew Weiner, the creator of “Mad Men,” a hard time about his not wholly objective perceptions of his years at Harvard-Westlake as a student and a teacher, but … still, he’s the creator of “Mad Men.”

    Read More
    • Replies: @Carneades
    You speak as though being the creator of Mad Men was a good thing! With the exception of John Slattery's hilarious first season parodies every other persona portrayed in that show was repellant. It wasn't even particularly realistic although that's not surprising. I understand Weiner once had to frantically ask on set if anyone knew if an old time push button analog car radio stayed tuned to the same station it was previously tuned to when turned back on. Clueless. Peggy not realizing she is 8 months pregnant? Really? The show was so bad I couldn't get get through more than a few episodes of the second season.
    , @Triumph104
    Zena Edosomwan graduated from Harvard-Westlake and he wasn't there because of his intellectual prowess. He had to spend a year after high school at Northfield Mount Hermon to raise his SAT score in order to go on to play basketball at Harvard University. In the Ivy League, recruited athletes have to qualify under the less demanding Athletic Index. For example, an athlete with a 3.0 GPA would need to have an SAT score of 1140 out of 1600. (LINK)

    Edosomwan arrived at Harvard-Westlake in the ninth grade after attending a public middle school, not one of the prep school’s typical feeder institutions. The question, as Greg Hilliard, then the boys’ basketball coach, explained, was: would he be able to handle the abrupt change in academics?

    Several school counselors suggested that he study Spanish, a relatively easy language. Edosomwan’s response shocked them: he wanted to study Mandarin. The impetus came from his mother, who had recognized the advantage of being able to speak Mandarin while trying to communicate with Chinese suppliers for her salon. Hilliard and others advised against it—there were so many other hard subjects, where he needed to catch up academically. But Edosomwan insisted: “No, that’s what I’m going to do, and I’m going to show you.”

    Still, during his first semester, when school officials and even he broached the possibility of dropping Mandarin, his mother issued an ultimatum. “The lady at the office called,” she recalled, “and I told the lady, ‘Well, he was not born playing basketball. He learned how to play basketball. So, he can learn Chinese as well. So, tell Zena his mom said he should stop playing basketball if he stops taking Chinese.’” That was it.
     

    Edosomwan remained undeterred. In tenth grade, he wrote down three goals: obtaining Division I offers, raising his GPA, and dressing nicely and improving his standing with the opposite sex....

    Edosomwan asked his teachers for extra work and guidance, and by senior year, he was getting all A’s and B’s.
     
    http://harvardmagazine.com/2017/02/zena-edosomwans-journey
    , @Old fogey
    Good information, Steve. I bet very few "ordinary" high schools ever tell their students that they can study on their own and take a test without sitting through an AP course in the subject.
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  29. Yan Shen says:
    @Cloud of Probable Matricide
    Yer morphing into Yellow Tiny Duck, fam.

    Haha I doubt it. I’m not particularly big on left wing theories about privilege and this or that.

    Think of me as a classical proponent of HBD with sane and sensible political leanings For the most part, I want the best for this country realistically speaking. I’m neither a fan of PC nor of rabid ethnic nationalism.

    In other words, I’m basically the best of all possible worlds, Dr. Pangloss! (Or maybe in some alternative universe and timeline, I’m basically the Lee Kuan Yew there.)

    Read More
    • Replies: @Cloud of Probable Matricide
    Good answer. I'm Panglossian myself (quite fond of Leibniz). Cheers.
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  30. Steve wrote:

    In general, I’m pretty bullish on AP tests, and feel they should be given more weight in college admissions. They have advantages over high school grades (they’re nationally consistent) and advantages over SAT/ACT tests (if kids are going to prep endlessly for a test, they might as well learn something in the process).

    Unfortunately, the way the College Board makes sure the scoring is “nationally consistent” is the source of a lot of the problems with the AP system.

    My kids have taken a number of AP tests over the last few years, and, since we are homeschooling, I was much more involved in the prep process than most parents.

    The most ludicrous aspect of the APs is the supposed “essay questions” on non-STEM tests. To ensure national consistency, the College Board reportedly has a fixed list of points you are supposed to mention in the essay. Bizarrely, no matter how brilliant your essay, you get zero credit for anything you say that is not on that fixed list of approved items. Supposedly, anything false you say that is not on that list of approved items will also not be held against you (I’m not clear if you get demerits for saying the opposite of something on the list).

    Essentially, your AP teacher finds out the key approved items, you regurgitate them, and nothing else matters.

    Maybe some colleges actually work that way; fortunately, I never attended any of them.

    But the real problem is the STEM tests. Because the College Board guarantees not to include anything not on the list of announced topics, they cannot have a high ceiling that rewards those students who have gone above and beyond the base level (for example, they test for the integral form but not the differential form of Gauss’s law, Ampere’s law, and Faraday’s law on Physics C Electricity and Magnetism).

    Yet, they need some way of spreading out the students’ scores. So, what they do is have problems that just can’t be solved in the time allotted unless you have been especially trained to rapidly solve the sort of rather silly problems that the College Board is known to put on the STEM AP tests.

    I.e., although I have a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford, am co-inventor on a number of patents, etc., I myself would be hard-pressed to earn a 5 on the AP Physics C tests unless I went to a good deal of trouble to prep. The AP Physics tests just do not have much at all to do with real physics (or engineering).

    Similarly, I have seen a lot of university math professors complaining about AP Calculus: their students have been trained like parrots to do the tricks required to get a 5 on AP Calculus without actually understanding what is going on. (This is basically what Jaime Escalante famously figured out, and why his students all made similar errors — they had been trained in the same tricks to get the answers.)

    Schools like Caltech, my own alma mater, have their own math placement exams that are much better than the AP, but of course Caltech does not have to worry about rapidly scoring hundreds of thousands of tests while guaranteeing national consistency. (I found Caltech’s Calculus 1 test interesting but not too hard. I found the test to quiz out of Calculus 2 dumbfounding, though I gave it my best shot, anyway. Caltech rightly said that I could skip Calculus 1 but needed to take Calculus 2.)

    In case anyone wonders if I am just voicing “sour grapes,” my kids did well enough on the APs to get into a bunch of UCs, including, fortunately, UCLA School of Engineering (which is much more selective than UCLA as a whole).

    I myself am old enough that APs were not an issue (our school had zero AP classes back then): I took the AP US History test as a lark to see what I could do.

    I got a 4, despite the fact that I really BSed my way through the entire test.

    More evidence, I am afraid, that on the AP tests, being test-wise is much more important than actual knowledge.

    Dave Miller in Sacramento

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    • Replies: @Yan Shen
    I'm not a huge fan of the AP tests either, but let me maybe push back a little bit against your comments on the STEM subjects.

    But the real problem is the STEM tests. Because the College Board guarantees not to include anything not on the list of announced topics, they cannot have a high ceiling that rewards those students who have gone above and beyond the base level (for example, they test for the integral form but not the differential form of Gauss’s law, Ampere’s law, and Faraday’s law on Physics C Electricity and Magnetism).

    Yet, they need some way of spreading out the students’ scores. So, what they do is have problems that just can’t be solved in the time allotted unless you have been especially trained to rapidly solve the sort of rather silly problems that the College Board is known to put on the STEM AP tests
     
    Well I mean isn't it sort of expected on most content based tests that the content only covers the list of announced topics? Imagine if you were taking a finals for some class in college and you were tested on something that you weren't expecting to be tested on. Wouldn't make much sense right? Hence my point about the AP exams being less inherently g-loaded/more amenable to prep compared to a pure cognitive test. Your complaint about the physics C AP exam seems to be that maybe it's not "hard" enough, which I guess might be fair? >.<

    I don't recall the AP Calc exam that I took back in the day containing "gimmicky" problems favoring those who knew special tricks. They were just basic calculus questions. I think more in general for entry level math problems, you can learn to solve certain problem types perhaps without really possessing a deep understanding of the underlying math, but I don't see that as necessarily a problem specific to the AP STEM exams, i.e. you're just as likely to do that when taking intro calculus at college, etc.

    Anyway, a bit surprised that you didn't point out that the AP exams have a pretty low ceiling given that that you can miss a decent number of questions and still get a 5. To me, that's probably the biggest drawback, along with some of the fluffier subjects like History, Geography, etc.

    Let's look at AMC/AIME scores or the likes, I say!
    , @Carneades

    Similarly, I have seen a lot of university math professors complaining about AP Calculus: their students have been trained like parrots to do the tricks required to get a 5 on AP Calculus without actually understanding what is going on. (This is basically what Jaime Escalante famously figured out, and why his students all made similar errors — they had been trained in the same tricks to get the answers.)
     
    Students would be better served by having their teachers use Michael Spivak's book Calculus which spends time on the theories of functions and limits before applying their rules to actual problems.
    , @Triumph104
    (This is basically what Jaime Escalante famously figured out, and why his students all made similar errors — they had been trained in the same tricks to get the answers.)

    The Washington Post's Jay Mathews found that Jaime Escalante's students cheated.

    At Garfield, it took me five years to get to the truth of that one incident. Ten students agreed to sign waivers so the College Board could show me their exam papers. The calculus test was a distant memory, their lives were going well and I think they assumed that since their old teacher blessed my book project, I would reveal nothing that put them in a bad light. I thought my inspection of the exams would clear them.

    Instead, I found that nine of the 10 had made identical silly mistakes on free-response question number 6. That could only mean at least eight had copied from the same source, perhaps the ninth person. I got two of them to admit that in a moment of panic near the end of the exam, somebody had passed around a piece of paper with that flawed solution.

    Yet they knew their stuff, and would have done no worse if they hadn't cheated. The counselor who proctored the exam apparently missed the note-passing. When the nine students whom I knew had cheated, plus three more, retook the exam in August -- with little time to review and two proctors watching their every move -- they once again did very well, mostly 4s and 5s on the 5-point exam. The answer to the important question was obvious: They learned a lot.
     
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/13/AR2009091302414.html?hpid=sec-education
    , @Anonymous
    Dave:

    I don't agree with your criticism of AP C. I am not a physicist, but have been around it a fair amount (working mechanical engineer, union card in solid state chem, etc.) I took the AP C in the early 80s. I had actually only had a trig-based physics class, but I had taken AP BC calc (which has lots of physics problems). I did a weekend of prep before. Mechanics I was able to get a 4 on. Had never had rotational kinematics, but all the equations are analagues (i.e. instead of F=ma, you get torque=moment of intertia times rotational acceleration). For the E&M part, it was just too hard and I got a 2. Some problems required third semester calculus (line integrals). And my E&M (simple circuits) did not have much to do with charge surfaces on spheres.

    Basically AP C is fine. You just probably don't like how hard electrostatics is. It worked out OK for me. Took second semester (placed out of first) in college, er...trade school on the Severn. Always wondered about the very tricky gyroscope problems that I never learned, but it did not hold me back in quantum chem or engineering or the like.
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  31. Lot says:
    @Yan Shen

    Advanced Placement tests for high school students are scored as if they were an intro 101 level course at a run-of-the-mill Directional State College. A 3 is equivalent to a C, 4 is a B, a 5 is an A. Many colleges give course credit for scores of 3 or higher, although some are toughening up. Last time I checked, MIT didn’t accept any scores below 5 and Caltech didn’t accept any AP scores at all on the grounds that none of their courses are 101 level.
     
    I've never been a huge fan of the AP tests. Sure getting a 5 on something rigorous like Calc BC or Physics C or the likes requires you to master meaningful material. On the other hand, most of the top schools don't really care all that much about AP exams and you don't get too much credit for them.

    Also, as others here have noted, the scoring isn't particularly fine grained and you can miss quite a bit and still get the highest possible score. There could still be a decent delta in quantitative aptitude between two people who both score a 5 on say the Calc BC exam.

    AP tests are probably most meaningful for, to quote Steve here, people who attend run of the mill state colleges. Or say a school ranked between 30-100 nationally or the likes... I grew up in Houston and it seemed like half my high school class that went on to college went to UT Austin, the other half Texas A&M. Those kids are probably the AP exams' target audience so to speak.

    How can you make yourself stand out potentially to elite colleges? Something that indicates serious high end ability in an area like math, i.e. high AMC or AIME scores or the likes. See the quote below. Anyone smart enough to make USAMO is a serious mathematical talent.

    Caltech and MIT both specifically ask for your best AMC and AIME scores, and the one Ivy I applied to (Yale) explicitly suggested putting them in the Additional Achievements section. A solid score definitely helps your application, as doing well on math contests in general indicates a level of academic dedication and creativity that most standardized tests don't bring out.

     

    Too bad for us with very high verbal there is/was nothing like this. I got a 74 on the PSAT-V when I was 12 taking it completely cold (no prep, no notice I’d be taking it at all until they grabbed me from class). By the time I took the real thing and then the SAT, an 80/800 was a sure thing. I would have loved some contests like USAMO.

    I suppose I could have taken the GRE.

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    • Replies: @res
    Do you recall why they tested you at 12? That sounds like the kind of thing an IQ study (like the SMPY or Duke TIP) would do. I wonder if taking it cold was intentionally part of the protocol.
    , @Desiderius
    http://miyaguchi.4sigma.org/hoeflin/ultra/ultra.html
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  32. @Yan Shen
    Sorry I ran out of time to edit my previous comment so let me try to summarize my thoughts a bit more succinctly here. Here's why I'm not as bullish on the AP exams as Steve is.

    First, one of the main drawbacks with the AP exams is that the 1-5 scoring threshold simply isn't discriminatory enough. On many AP tests you can miss a decent number of problems and still score a 5. Two people who both scored a 5 on the Calc BC exam can actually differ significantly in terms of quantitative aptitude. IIRC at my high school back in the day, there were people who scored a 5 on the Calc BC who scored in the low 700s on the SAT math, also another test with a relatively low ceiling. I'm sure if you look at actual SAT math scores versus Calc BC scores, there are probably people who scored below a 700 on SAT math who were still able to get a 5.

    Second, not all tests seem to me to be equally useful or accepted by colleges. As I stated in my previous comment, in skimming a handful of the top colleges, I see that usually stuff like US History, World History, US Government and Politics, English Language, English Literature, etc. don't receive any college credit. I suspect that blacks and Hispanics who are being pushed to take additional AP exams probably gravitate disproportionately towards subjects as opposed to say Calc BC or Physics C. I would personally push to cull some of these tests and focus more on the more useful and relevant subject areas.

    Third, when most colleges try to assess students, what they typically want to estimate is 1) how smart a person is and 2) how hard working and conscientious they are. The typical argument is that the SAT is a relatively g-loaded exam and not significantly amenable to test prep, although I'm sure some of that effect exists. I see AP exams as being less a measure of innate aptitude than a purely cognitive test and more a reflection of how well you've prepped for the particular content, although the extent of this obviously depends on the particular AP test at hand.

    Do you really think for instance that AP US History is more g-loaded than the SAT verbal? On the other hand, I could definitely see Physics C being more g-loaded than say US Government and Politics. Given the current state that AP tests are in, the best approach is to view them as an additional data point along with SAT scores and grades, rather than favoring them over the other two.

    Yan Shen wrote:

    I see AP exams as being less a measure of innate aptitude than a purely cognitive test and more a reflection of how well you’ve prepped for the particular content, although the extent of this obviously depends on the particular AP test at hand.

    Precisely.

    Of course, those of us who are really “test-wise” — good at seeing through the “gotcha” questions, etc. — can do better than we deserve on almost any test. I was one of those kids, and perhaps Steve’s sons are also.

    I’d like to think that being super-test-wise is a sign of high intelligence, but I’m beginning to wonder if it isn’t closer to being an idiot savant!

    Dave

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    • Replies: @Lot
    Part of being test wise on multiple choice tests is ruling out answers that engage in logical fallacy. You can do better than random guessing on something you know absolutely nothing about.

    I loved my formal logic class in freshman year of college, I wish I could have taken it in middle school.
    , @Corvinus
    "More evidence, I am afraid, that on the AP tests, being test-wise is much more important than actual knowledge."

    "Of course, those of us who are really “test-wise” — good at seeing through the “gotcha” questions, etc. — can do better than we deserve on almost any test. I was one of those kids, and perhaps Steve’s sons are also."

    That is not how the current AP tests operate. Here is a sample of the type of multiple choice questions they ask for the exam on American History. Note the following does NOT come an actual test from the college board, but it is representative of the questions they pose. Like Disney, the College Board have lawyers who protect their brand like wild dogs who just killed their prey. I prefer not to engage in copyright infringement.

    FDR, “Quarantine Speech”, 1937
    "The peace-loving nations must make a concerted effort in opposition to those
    violations of treaties and those ignoring of humane instincts which today are creating a state of international anarchy and instability from which there is no escape through mere isolation or neutrality. Those who cherish their freedom and recognize and respect the equal right of their neighbors to be free and live in peace, must work together for the triumph of law and moral principles in order that peace, justice and confidence may prevail in the world. There must be a return to a belief in the pledged word, in the value of a signed treaty. There must be recognition of the fact that national morality is as vital as private morality."

    The ideas expressed in the excerpt differed from 1920’s foreign policy in which of the following?
    a. The avoidance of political entanglements in Europe and Asia.
    b. The moral imperative to combat aggression on a global scale.
    c. The promotion of American business interests in Latin America.
    d. The development of military alliances with several nations.

    Which of the following events during FDR’s tenure in the 1930’s was a departure from that 1920’s foreign policy?
    a. Discussing war goals with key allies.
    b. Retooling factories for war materials.
    c. Limiting the number of warships built.
    d. Refusing to invoke the Neutrality Acts.

    FDR’s “Quarantine Speech” resulted in:
    a. a rebuke by Congress in response to its subdued tone.
    b. the public vehemently opposing its assertive rhetoric.
    c. moral arguments against opposing Germany and Japan.
    d. economic pressure and threats of force against aggressors.

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  33. @Yan Shen
    Haha I doubt it. I'm not particularly big on left wing theories about privilege and this or that.

    Think of me as a classical proponent of HBD with sane and sensible political leanings For the most part, I want the best for this country realistically speaking. I'm neither a fan of PC nor of rabid ethnic nationalism.

    In other words, I'm basically the best of all possible worlds, Dr. Pangloss! (Or maybe in some alternative universe and timeline, I'm basically the Lee Kuan Yew there.)

    Good answer. I’m Panglossian myself (quite fond of Leibniz). Cheers.

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  34. Lot says:
    @Yan Shen
    The tripos is taken by undergrads at Cambridge to receive their BA/BS degrees. AMC and AIME are competitive tests for high school students.

    I'm surprised that Steve hasn't analyzed AMC/AIME/USAMO scores or in general the world of competitive high school tests, as opposed to typically focusing on standardized tests like the SAT/ACT/APs or the likes.

    I have a groundbreaking analysis of the US Spelling Bee and have concluded that the demographics of the smartest kids in America are 85% Hindu and 15% white homeschoolers.

    I look forward to your similar analysis of the USAMO

    Read More
    • LOL: res
    • Replies: @Yan Shen
    Let's say that the Spelling Bee is a measure of verbal aptitude or the likes.

    I seem to recall for recent years for the USAMO that a little over 60% of the qualifiers were East Asian. Obviously the USAMO is a measure of quantitative aptitude.

    Here's another assertion that may or may not be true. It seems to me that the spelling bee is also more amenable to prep no, with what the memorizing different word roots and stems and the likes?

    Meme articulated by Lion of the Blogosphere. High verbal ability is conducive to value transference while high mathematical ability is conducive to value creation. It would be interesting to compare the future life outcomes of say top whatever spelling bee competitors vs usamo qualifiers!
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  35. Yan Shen says:
    @PhysicistDave
    Steve wrote:

    In general, I’m pretty bullish on AP tests, and feel they should be given more weight in college admissions. They have advantages over high school grades (they’re nationally consistent) and advantages over SAT/ACT tests (if kids are going to prep endlessly for a test, they might as well learn something in the process).
     
    Unfortunately, the way the College Board makes sure the scoring is "nationally consistent" is the source of a lot of the problems with the AP system.

    My kids have taken a number of AP tests over the last few years, and, since we are homeschooling, I was much more involved in the prep process than most parents.

    The most ludicrous aspect of the APs is the supposed "essay questions" on non-STEM tests. To ensure national consistency, the College Board reportedly has a fixed list of points you are supposed to mention in the essay. Bizarrely, no matter how brilliant your essay, you get zero credit for anything you say that is not on that fixed list of approved items. Supposedly, anything false you say that is not on that list of approved items will also not be held against you (I'm not clear if you get demerits for saying the opposite of something on the list).

    Essentially, your AP teacher finds out the key approved items, you regurgitate them, and nothing else matters.

    Maybe some colleges actually work that way; fortunately, I never attended any of them.

    But the real problem is the STEM tests. Because the College Board guarantees not to include anything not on the list of announced topics, they cannot have a high ceiling that rewards those students who have gone above and beyond the base level (for example, they test for the integral form but not the differential form of Gauss's law, Ampere's law, and Faraday's law on Physics C Electricity and Magnetism).

    Yet, they need some way of spreading out the students' scores. So, what they do is have problems that just can't be solved in the time allotted unless you have been especially trained to rapidly solve the sort of rather silly problems that the College Board is known to put on the STEM AP tests.

    I.e., although I have a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford, am co-inventor on a number of patents, etc., I myself would be hard-pressed to earn a 5 on the AP Physics C tests unless I went to a good deal of trouble to prep. The AP Physics tests just do not have much at all to do with real physics (or engineering).

    Similarly, I have seen a lot of university math professors complaining about AP Calculus: their students have been trained like parrots to do the tricks required to get a 5 on AP Calculus without actually understanding what is going on. (This is basically what Jaime Escalante famously figured out, and why his students all made similar errors -- they had been trained in the same tricks to get the answers.)

    Schools like Caltech, my own alma mater, have their own math placement exams that are much better than the AP, but of course Caltech does not have to worry about rapidly scoring hundreds of thousands of tests while guaranteeing national consistency. (I found Caltech's Calculus 1 test interesting but not too hard. I found the test to quiz out of Calculus 2 dumbfounding, though I gave it my best shot, anyway. Caltech rightly said that I could skip Calculus 1 but needed to take Calculus 2.)

    In case anyone wonders if I am just voicing "sour grapes," my kids did well enough on the APs to get into a bunch of UCs, including, fortunately, UCLA School of Engineering (which is much more selective than UCLA as a whole).

    I myself am old enough that APs were not an issue (our school had zero AP classes back then): I took the AP US History test as a lark to see what I could do.

    I got a 4, despite the fact that I really BSed my way through the entire test.

    More evidence, I am afraid, that on the AP tests, being test-wise is much more important than actual knowledge.

    Dave Miller in Sacramento

    I’m not a huge fan of the AP tests either, but let me maybe push back a little bit against your comments on the STEM subjects.

    But the real problem is the STEM tests. Because the College Board guarantees not to include anything not on the list of announced topics, they cannot have a high ceiling that rewards those students who have gone above and beyond the base level (for example, they test for the integral form but not the differential form of Gauss’s law, Ampere’s law, and Faraday’s law on Physics C Electricity and Magnetism).

    Yet, they need some way of spreading out the students’ scores. So, what they do is have problems that just can’t be solved in the time allotted unless you have been especially trained to rapidly solve the sort of rather silly problems that the College Board is known to put on the STEM AP tests

    Well I mean isn’t it sort of expected on most content based tests that the content only covers the list of announced topics? Imagine if you were taking a finals for some class in college and you were tested on something that you weren’t expecting to be tested on. Wouldn’t make much sense right? Hence my point about the AP exams being less inherently g-loaded/more amenable to prep compared to a pure cognitive test. Your complaint about the physics C AP exam seems to be that maybe it’s not “hard” enough, which I guess might be fair? >.<

    I don't recall the AP Calc exam that I took back in the day containing "gimmicky" problems favoring those who knew special tricks. They were just basic calculus questions. I think more in general for entry level math problems, you can learn to solve certain problem types perhaps without really possessing a deep understanding of the underlying math, but I don't see that as necessarily a problem specific to the AP STEM exams, i.e. you're just as likely to do that when taking intro calculus at college, etc.

    Anyway, a bit surprised that you didn't point out that the AP exams have a pretty low ceiling given that that you can miss a decent number of questions and still get a 5. To me, that's probably the biggest drawback, along with some of the fluffier subjects like History, Geography, etc.

    Let's look at AMC/AIME scores or the likes, I say!

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    • Replies: @Yan Shen

    I.e., although I have a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford, am co-inventor on a number of patents, etc., I myself would be hard-pressed to earn a 5 on the AP Physics C tests unless I went to a good deal of trouble to prep.
     
    Ran out of time to add to my previous comment, so let me write it out here. I doubt a PhD physics from Stanford couldn't get a 5 on the AP physics C exams if he wanted to. But sure in general for content based exams some preparation is required regardless of how smart you are. I mean even the smartest Americans probably would need to prepare for an exam on say Ukranian history.
    , @The Wobbly Guy

    Well I mean isn’t it sort of expected on most content based tests that the content only covers the list of announced topics? Imagine if you were taking a finals for some class in college and you were tested on something that you weren’t expecting to be tested on. Wouldn’t make much sense right? Hence my point about the AP exams being less inherently g-loaded/more amenable to prep compared to a pure cognitive test. Your complaint about the physics C AP exam seems to be that maybe it’s not “hard” enough, which I guess might be fair? >.<
     
    It's actually quite easy to make content based tests more g-loaded. The Singapore H2 Chemistry paper (much more difficult than AP Chemistry, but at the same age group) is (in)famous for this - teaching a new concept/context in a question and then asking students to apply it immediately, as well as extending concepts they have already learned to the new situation. Needless to say, only the best students can handle it.

    You may also want to take a look at a very specific type of question common in the H2 Chemistry paper, the oft-dreaded elucidation question in organic chemistry. All the preparation and memorisation in the world is useless unless you can put together the information and make the necessary deductions. As I always say to students - the best way to prepare for these is to actually read (not watch!) Sherlock Holmes or any decent detective story.
    http://www.wewwchemistry.com/2013/09/the-mind-boggling-h2-chemistry

    I remember students trying out sample papers from AP Chemistry and complaining bitterly about the difficulty of their own exams.
    , @PhysicistDave
    Yan Shen wrote to me:

    Well I mean isn’t it sort of expected on most content based tests that the content only covers the list of announced topics? Imagine if you were taking a finals for some class in college and you were tested on something that you weren’t expecting to be tested on. Wouldn’t make much sense right?
     
    Well... being tested on something not covered in class was what we expected at Caltech!

    The problem is that the College Board rigidly defines the content of the AP physics classes, and the content is just stupid -- this is not how you learn physics. And multiple-choice tests? With too little time to work out the answers in a normal way so that you need to use skills of being "test-wise" instead of actual knowledge of physics? No, I have never seen that sort of thing in any legitimate university environment.

    Again, I myself do well at this sort of thing: it does a good job of measuring the skills of those of us who are super-test-wise. But, it is not a good way of testing for physics, and I know of no legitimate college physics program that tests in this way.

    The AP tests are a bad joke that do happen to benefit super-test-wise guys like me.

    Yan Shen also wrote:

    Your complaint about the physics C AP exam seems to be that maybe it’s not “hard” enough, which I guess might be fair?
     
    No. I just do not think it is a physics test. I think it is a test of how well you have been prepped for this particular remarkably silly test, not how well you know physics (or, in some cases like me, how clever you are at outsmarting the test makers).

    Yan Shen also wrote:

    I don't recall the AP Calc exam that I took back in the day containing "gimmicky" problems favoring those who knew special tricks. They were just basic calculus questions.
     
    When you took it, did they have the bizarrely silly questions with the vector field pictures? I taught my kids how to solve those stupid problems, but, in all my years of using calculus in theoretical physics, engineering, and pure math, I have never had to deal with problems like that.

    Pure idiocy.

    The College Board is turning America into China back in the days of the pointless exams on the Chinese classics that served no purpose.

    (Yes, I know: America is now so corrupt that returning to the level of corruption of late Imperial China might actually be an improvement!)

    Dave
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  36. Carneades says:
    @Steve Sailer
    My older son went to a pretty good private high school which had a lot of AP courses and my younger son went to a really good private high school that refused to call courses AP because one of the benefits of teaching at that high school is you get to make up your own curriculum. They both took a lot of AP tests and both did well.

    One thing to keep in mind is that you don't have to take a course in the subject to take the AP test. For example, both boys passed AP Comparative Government even though there schools didn't offer a course in it. I think my wife called up the local super-school, Harvard-Westlake (e.g., Charlie Munger, the brains behind Warren Buffett, is on the Board of Trustees), and of course they were administering pretty much every AP test ever invented. And, perhaps more strikingly, they were very gracious and accommodating to a student at a different school dropping by to take the Comparative Government test. (In my limited experience with Harvard-Westlake in recent years, asking 3 or 4 favors of them, all the people who work there have been very nice toward outsiders. My impression is that most people are too intimidated to ask favors of them.

    But it's also that H-W, as SoCal's top school, hires top people: if you go back 15 years, the back-of-the-book section of the Atlantic Monthly at its peak was run by people with connections to H-W, like Benjamin Schwarz and Caitlin Flanagan. I frequently give Matthew Weiner, the creator of "Mad Men," a hard time about his not wholly objective perceptions of his years at Harvard-Westlake as a student and a teacher, but ... still, he's the creator of "Mad Men."

    You speak as though being the creator of Mad Men was a good thing! With the exception of John Slattery’s hilarious first season parodies every other persona portrayed in that show was repellant. It wasn’t even particularly realistic although that’s not surprising. I understand Weiner once had to frantically ask on set if anyone knew if an old time push button analog car radio stayed tuned to the same station it was previously tuned to when turned back on. Clueless. Peggy not realizing she is 8 months pregnant? Really? The show was so bad I couldn’t get get through more than a few episodes of the second season.

    Read More
    • Agree: Triumph104
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  37. Lot says:
    @Yan Shen

    One thing that is completely ignored is how many Chinese, Koreans, and Spanish speakers get “credit” for taking tests designed for language learners in their native languages. Pisses me off.
     
    Yeah that does seem kind of cheap. On the other hand, do they really benefit from those AP scores in terms of college credit? Seems more like just resume padding?

    By the way, has anyone ever uh pointed out to you that your life's dedication to whining about Asians "pisses them off"? I'm not necessarily saying that it bothers me, more just wondering if anyone else has been annoyed by it. I haven't followed a lot of your writing, but from what I've skimmed I get the distinct impression that supposed Asian cheating on this or that is one of your big obsessions in life.

    This kind of reminds me of the anti-Japanese hysteria that peaked around the late 1980s and early 1990s in America, when supposedly the Japanese cheated their way to dominating the US automobile and consumer electronics industries. There was even that novel by Michael Crichton, Rising Sun, that while entertaining, at times read like the Protocols of the Elders of Tokyo...

    So is ER wrong that Asians both prep and cheat more on high stakes tests? That was my observation in college.

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  38. Yan Shen says:
    @Lot
    I have a groundbreaking analysis of the US Spelling Bee and have concluded that the demographics of the smartest kids in America are 85% Hindu and 15% white homeschoolers.

    I look forward to your similar analysis of the USAMO

    Let’s say that the Spelling Bee is a measure of verbal aptitude or the likes.

    I seem to recall for recent years for the USAMO that a little over 60% of the qualifiers were East Asian. Obviously the USAMO is a measure of quantitative aptitude.

    Here’s another assertion that may or may not be true. It seems to me that the spelling bee is also more amenable to prep no, with what the memorizing different word roots and stems and the likes?

    Meme articulated by Lion of the Blogosphere. High verbal ability is conducive to value transference while high mathematical ability is conducive to value creation. It would be interesting to compare the future life outcomes of say top whatever spelling bee competitors vs usamo qualifiers!

    Read More
    • Replies: @Lot
    How does that 60% compare with the expected Asian share of the US population with math ability in the 99.9 percentile?
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  39. Lot says:
    @PhysicistDave
    Yan Shen wrote:

    I see AP exams as being less a measure of innate aptitude than a purely cognitive test and more a reflection of how well you’ve prepped for the particular content, although the extent of this obviously depends on the particular AP test at hand.
     
    Precisely.

    Of course, those of us who are really "test-wise" -- good at seeing through the "gotcha" questions, etc. -- can do better than we deserve on almost any test. I was one of those kids, and perhaps Steve's sons are also.

    I'd like to think that being super-test-wise is a sign of high intelligence, but I'm beginning to wonder if it isn't closer to being an idiot savant!

    Dave

    Part of being test wise on multiple choice tests is ruling out answers that engage in logical fallacy. You can do better than random guessing on something you know absolutely nothing about.

    I loved my formal logic class in freshman year of college, I wish I could have taken it in middle school.

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    • Agree: Carneades
    • Replies: @res
    If you know any high schooler or precocious late middle schooler who wants to learn about formal logic this online course is worth a look: http://intrologic.stanford.edu/homepage/index.html
    The Coursera version has lecture videos which I am not seeing at the Stanford link: https://www.coursera.org/learn/logic-introduction/
    , @PhysicistDave
    Lot wrote to me:

    Part of being test wise on multiple choice tests is ruling out answers that engage in logical fallacy
     
    .Well... that's not what I did. I basically pretended that I was the test creator trying to fake out the test-taker. Always worked well for me.

    I never understood why most people cannot do the same. Maybe I just happen to be amused by pretending that I am the one making up the snarky tests.

    Dave
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  40. Yan Shen says:
    @Yan Shen
    I'm not a huge fan of the AP tests either, but let me maybe push back a little bit against your comments on the STEM subjects.

    But the real problem is the STEM tests. Because the College Board guarantees not to include anything not on the list of announced topics, they cannot have a high ceiling that rewards those students who have gone above and beyond the base level (for example, they test for the integral form but not the differential form of Gauss’s law, Ampere’s law, and Faraday’s law on Physics C Electricity and Magnetism).

    Yet, they need some way of spreading out the students’ scores. So, what they do is have problems that just can’t be solved in the time allotted unless you have been especially trained to rapidly solve the sort of rather silly problems that the College Board is known to put on the STEM AP tests
     
    Well I mean isn't it sort of expected on most content based tests that the content only covers the list of announced topics? Imagine if you were taking a finals for some class in college and you were tested on something that you weren't expecting to be tested on. Wouldn't make much sense right? Hence my point about the AP exams being less inherently g-loaded/more amenable to prep compared to a pure cognitive test. Your complaint about the physics C AP exam seems to be that maybe it's not "hard" enough, which I guess might be fair? >.<

    I don't recall the AP Calc exam that I took back in the day containing "gimmicky" problems favoring those who knew special tricks. They were just basic calculus questions. I think more in general for entry level math problems, you can learn to solve certain problem types perhaps without really possessing a deep understanding of the underlying math, but I don't see that as necessarily a problem specific to the AP STEM exams, i.e. you're just as likely to do that when taking intro calculus at college, etc.

    Anyway, a bit surprised that you didn't point out that the AP exams have a pretty low ceiling given that that you can miss a decent number of questions and still get a 5. To me, that's probably the biggest drawback, along with some of the fluffier subjects like History, Geography, etc.

    Let's look at AMC/AIME scores or the likes, I say!

    I.e., although I have a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford, am co-inventor on a number of patents, etc., I myself would be hard-pressed to earn a 5 on the AP Physics C tests unless I went to a good deal of trouble to prep.

    Ran out of time to add to my previous comment, so let me write it out here. I doubt a PhD physics from Stanford couldn’t get a 5 on the AP physics C exams if he wanted to. But sure in general for content based exams some preparation is required regardless of how smart you are. I mean even the smartest Americans probably would need to prepare for an exam on say Ukranian history.

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  41. Carneades says:
    @PhysicistDave
    Steve wrote:

    In general, I’m pretty bullish on AP tests, and feel they should be given more weight in college admissions. They have advantages over high school grades (they’re nationally consistent) and advantages over SAT/ACT tests (if kids are going to prep endlessly for a test, they might as well learn something in the process).
     
    Unfortunately, the way the College Board makes sure the scoring is "nationally consistent" is the source of a lot of the problems with the AP system.

    My kids have taken a number of AP tests over the last few years, and, since we are homeschooling, I was much more involved in the prep process than most parents.

    The most ludicrous aspect of the APs is the supposed "essay questions" on non-STEM tests. To ensure national consistency, the College Board reportedly has a fixed list of points you are supposed to mention in the essay. Bizarrely, no matter how brilliant your essay, you get zero credit for anything you say that is not on that fixed list of approved items. Supposedly, anything false you say that is not on that list of approved items will also not be held against you (I'm not clear if you get demerits for saying the opposite of something on the list).

    Essentially, your AP teacher finds out the key approved items, you regurgitate them, and nothing else matters.

    Maybe some colleges actually work that way; fortunately, I never attended any of them.

    But the real problem is the STEM tests. Because the College Board guarantees not to include anything not on the list of announced topics, they cannot have a high ceiling that rewards those students who have gone above and beyond the base level (for example, they test for the integral form but not the differential form of Gauss's law, Ampere's law, and Faraday's law on Physics C Electricity and Magnetism).

    Yet, they need some way of spreading out the students' scores. So, what they do is have problems that just can't be solved in the time allotted unless you have been especially trained to rapidly solve the sort of rather silly problems that the College Board is known to put on the STEM AP tests.

    I.e., although I have a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford, am co-inventor on a number of patents, etc., I myself would be hard-pressed to earn a 5 on the AP Physics C tests unless I went to a good deal of trouble to prep. The AP Physics tests just do not have much at all to do with real physics (or engineering).

    Similarly, I have seen a lot of university math professors complaining about AP Calculus: their students have been trained like parrots to do the tricks required to get a 5 on AP Calculus without actually understanding what is going on. (This is basically what Jaime Escalante famously figured out, and why his students all made similar errors -- they had been trained in the same tricks to get the answers.)

    Schools like Caltech, my own alma mater, have their own math placement exams that are much better than the AP, but of course Caltech does not have to worry about rapidly scoring hundreds of thousands of tests while guaranteeing national consistency. (I found Caltech's Calculus 1 test interesting but not too hard. I found the test to quiz out of Calculus 2 dumbfounding, though I gave it my best shot, anyway. Caltech rightly said that I could skip Calculus 1 but needed to take Calculus 2.)

    In case anyone wonders if I am just voicing "sour grapes," my kids did well enough on the APs to get into a bunch of UCs, including, fortunately, UCLA School of Engineering (which is much more selective than UCLA as a whole).

    I myself am old enough that APs were not an issue (our school had zero AP classes back then): I took the AP US History test as a lark to see what I could do.

    I got a 4, despite the fact that I really BSed my way through the entire test.

    More evidence, I am afraid, that on the AP tests, being test-wise is much more important than actual knowledge.

    Dave Miller in Sacramento

    Similarly, I have seen a lot of university math professors complaining about AP Calculus: their students have been trained like parrots to do the tricks required to get a 5 on AP Calculus without actually understanding what is going on. (This is basically what Jaime Escalante famously figured out, and why his students all made similar errors — they had been trained in the same tricks to get the answers.)

    Students would be better served by having their teachers use Michael Spivak’s book Calculus which spends time on the theories of functions and limits before applying their rules to actual problems.

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    • Replies: @anon

    Students would be better served by having their teachers use Michael Spivak’s book Calculus which spends time on the theories of functions and limits before applying their rules to actual problems.
     
    Most high schools would have trouble finding anyone capable of teaching that book. Great book though.
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  42. Astorian says:

    I graduated from high school in 1979. Back then, I earned 24 credits at an Ivy League school by doing well on the Latin, Biology, European History and American History Advanced Placement exams. That was a dang good investment. At that time, the best colleges seemed eager to give away free credits.

    Today I am a high school teacher, and the benefits of AP testing have declined drastically. Fewer and fewer schools give credit for high scores on the AP exams. Those of my AP Macroeconomics students who scored 4 or 5 on the AP exams last year will get no college credit for it. If they major in Business, they will probably have to take Macroeconomics again.

    Perhaps now that tuition is astronomical, colleges are less inclined to give anything away for free.

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    • Replies: @Triumph104
    Just speaking for public colleges, the acceptance of AP scores for credit and placement varies from state to state, college to college, and sometimes from department to department. Starting with the 2016-2017 academic year, the state of Illinois passed a law that all state institutions had to award credit for AP scores of three and above. Among other things, there had been a problem with kids from Illinois going to out-of-state colleges with much friendlier AP credit policies.

    Rhodes Scholar Myron Rolle chose to play football at Florida State University over Notre Dame and Michigan because FSU awarded credit for all of the AP exams he passed. He earned his bachelor's degree in two and a half years. He just earned his MD from FSU's medical school and is doing a residency in neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital.


    AP Credit Policy Search Engine to find colleges and universities that award credit for AP scores:

    https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/creditandplacement/search-credit-policies
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  43. dearieme says:
    @anon
    Even the AMC and AIME tests are weak compared to the Math Tripos https://www.maths.cam.ac.uk/system/files/paperia_1_0.pdf

    or the JEE https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/iit-jee-subject/iit-jee

    They’ve dumbed down the fresher Tripos courses over the decades. At least they have in physics; the same may be true for maths.

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  44. I find the discussions of AP classes, and their relative value/non-value (compared to equivalent college courses) interesting-interesting, because they are essentially irrelevant.

    AP tests end up allowing students to test out of college classes that are largely irrelevant anyway. Any of us who went to college knows this. I happen to have studied engineering; if I had tested out of freshman history or freshman psychology, that would have been fine: those classes would have been a freshman ‘humanities’ requirement that was irrelevant to my education and which I don’t/wouldn’t remember anyway. If you didn’t study engineering: is it really more valuable to take a resident course in, say, intro to American History (in a lecture hall with 300 students, often taught by a graduate student) rather than pass the American History AP test? Even as a history major; most of your history learning will come in higher level history classes. That freshman survey course was almost irrelevant to your degree. Minimal writing, often multiple choice tests (that could be machine graded-300 students are too many for a real instructor to worry about), attendance was optional and not noticed (300 students is too many to keep track of). It was just a chance for 18 year olds to transition to college responsibilities. Real learning doesn’t happen until junior-senior year anyway.

    And I think everybody knows it: remember the calculations you went through when you were in college? About 120 credit hours to graduate, so many from each department or requirement (a few tech/math, a few communications, many from your field of study, maybe language, a few from a secondary field of study, etc etc). 6 or 9 credits (2 or 3 AP classes) of freshman whatever were just 6 or 9 off of the 120: they were virtually irrelevant-the senior level classes-when class size was down to what you had in high school (25 or so)* in your field were what mattered.

    Do you all not remember that? Do you remember college?

    joeyjoe

    *once you go to graduate school, you realize even senior classes are nonsense. Graduate seminars, which class size around 8-10 (and, effectively, independent reading)** is where learning occurs.

    ** and once you do that, you realize that ‘teaching’ is just ‘reading and summarizing a book for somebody.’ If you really want to learn something, you can, and have to, just read the book yourself.

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  45. Altai says:
    @education realist
    "Any idea who pushed the idea of increasing AP classes in those high schools in the first place?"

    Jay Mathews. Haven't you ever seen Stand and Deliver, or heard about his Challenge Index? He and Newsweek started an America's Best High Schools which was derived purely from one metric: how many seniors had taken AP Exams. Taken, not passed. It began in 1998.

    So utter crap schools in the inner city could get ranked as a great high school simply for forcing all their kids to take AP tests after taking AP "classes" that weren't anything like.

    At the same time, California banned affirmative action, so the UC system altered its admission criteria to weight grades as 75% of the overall admissions factor. Since AP classes get a point more in GPA (even without taking the test), this led to a push by Asian American parents to have their kids to take every possible AP they could (and often cheat on the tests), although they care much more about the grade.

    Whites don't care as much about grades, and often times in white/asian schools, there's too many signups for AP classes so it goes to the kids with the highest grades. Which isn't to say that plenty of whites aren't taking APs, too.

    From what I can tell, whites are comfortably ensconced in the middle of the country without too many Asians in competition, so they really don't need to take AP classes. They really don't save you that much time in college anymore, particularly good ones.

    I once did a (very rudimentary) examination of AP preferences by race. It's what you 'd expect.

    Recently, there was much wailing about blacks not taking AP--wrote about it here.

    One thing that is completely ignored is how many Chinese, Koreans, and Spanish speakers get "credit" for taking tests designed for language learners in their native languages. Pisses me off.

    One thing that is completely ignored is how many Chinese, Koreans, and Spanish speakers get “credit” for taking tests designed for language learners in their native languages. Pisses me off.

    Happened in Ireland. Leaving Cert (Final exam which decides your ‘points’, which are used to apply to university courses with points for certain courses being more popular being higher, it shifts year by year according to demand, some courses may have prerequisites such as certain levels in Maths or languages.) used to have exams for Irish, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Latin. (And I think the Spanish and Italian only came in the 80s or 90s, nobody at my school did anything else than French or German in addition to the mandatory Irish)

    Now there are all kinds of Eastern and South Eastern European languages which nobody learns in school and the students who take the tests don’t study for them either since they are native speakers, so a bunch of free exam points and one fewer exams to take. All the Poles and Russians (Mostly from the Baltic states and thus EU citizens) at my school took them in the leaving cert and essentially got free points. This is not trivial, that is an exam they don’t have to take (Most also get off taking the Irish exam which is otherwise mandatory unless you entered the Irish system at a late enough age) that they need to study for, essentially it is an exam they don’t have to take which also gives them very high points.

    You can argue that they are still demonstrating they are bilingual which is a far cry from most of even the best performers of natives performing well in language tests, but an Anglophone being able to speak another language demonstrates something much more than a non-Anglophone speaking English living in an Anglophone country. We can debate what these exams are really proxies for, but they are proxies and it doesn’t work unless you test everyone on the same basis.

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  46. Corvinus says:
    @res

    Millions of federal and state dollars are spent each year on increasing the number of Advanced Placement classes in low-income majority black and Latino high schools.
     
    Any idea who pushed the idea of increasing AP classes in those high schools in the first place?

    “Any idea who pushed the idea of increasing AP classes in those high schools in the first place?”

    Great question. The College Board, with apparent** input from college professors and high school teachers, Mr. Sailor’s study from 2009 regarding AP test results would have little bearing today, as several tests, from AP United States History to AP Biology, have been redesigned. Why? The Common Core Standards and marketing. There is an emphasis on skill building, with content serving as the vehicle. The evaluation process for writing consists of rubrics. Back in the “golden days”, the content would drive instruction, complete with holistic grading.

    To Mr. Sailor’s point that “society’s push to discover more black and Hispanic diamonds in the rough was causing black and Hispanic mean scores to run into diminishing returns, but even that wasn’t as bad as I had expected”, there is absolute validity in his claim. Although, he is neglecting to consider there are a number of white kids who also lack the requisite intellectual rigor and/or come from poorer backgrounds who end up taking those advanced classes. They have been pushed by school administrators in response to parental requests that certain courses be offered without “gatekeeping”. Administrators have also sold the idea to parents that even if their child struggles, they are more prepared for college given the nature of the course. More districts have been forgoing prerequisites or entrance qualifications in order to boost numbers. Earning college credit in high school especially helps the bottom line of parents by doling less dollars for their sons and daughters in college. The more students who take AP, the more “prestige”, the more parents are satisfied.

    The problem is that AP teachers teach to the top, rather than the middle or bottom, tier…as they should. The students and parents generally understand this process, but as a result AP exam scores were lower for some schools compared to in the past. So the College Board, in its infinite wisdom, has made changes within the past five years to “democratize” the courses. The revised curriculum, it was argued, would enable teachers to go more in depth on topics rather than students being responsible for a laundry list of facts. Whether the new tests are equally challenging as the old tests has been vigorously contested within the AP community.

    Not that there is any political machinations here. /sarcasm

    “For one thing, David Coleman, the current head of the College Board, was previously part of the English Language Arts committee of the Common Core. The media often refers to him as an “architect of the Common Core.” So it’s not too surprising that he would bring the Common Core philosophy to the College Board, leading to an SAT overhaul.” [and overall of the AP courses]

    http://blog.prepscholar.com/is-the-new-sat-2016-sat-aligned-with-common-core

    Hmmm. Change the curriculum. Increase the availability. Make more money. Nah, that’s not what is going on here. /sarcasm

    **There were a number of complaints that CB unilaterally made this decision ahead of time, then consulted experts, who offered what they thought was preliminary advice, and [whallah], a number of “course redesigns” occurred, much to the chagrin of veteran AP teachers who believed that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

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    • Replies: @ganderson
    Colman's a blank-slater, too. One that lived his whole like in a high IQ bubble. Naturally, he believes IQ doesn't exist.

    I used to teach AP US History, and I also was a 'reader'- 600 of us in a a large room in downtown Louisville reading AP essays 8 hours a day for 10 days. I can testify that there are many kids taking AP exams who never wanted to take either the course, the exam, or both. I saw lots of hand turkeys and essays about how terrible their AP teachers were. My favorite essay of all time began something like:
    "I really don't know much about the populists, but I can tell you about something I do know a lot about: The Baconater" Gold!
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  47. anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    At MIT (where I went) and Harvard / Princeton / Stanford, and I assume other similar schools, the Calc BC and Physics C etc. exams aren’t really used to grant credit, but as a factor to determine which freshman math, physics, bio etc courses you take. Normally, each school also has either some kind of internal exam and/or movement between math and physics tiers early in the first semester to sort things out.

    When recruiting from these schools, this is a big deal (e.g., if you completed Math 55 at Harvard or 18.014/18.024 at MIT it is a huge plus).

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  48. Corvinus says:
    @PhysicistDave
    Yan Shen wrote:

    I see AP exams as being less a measure of innate aptitude than a purely cognitive test and more a reflection of how well you’ve prepped for the particular content, although the extent of this obviously depends on the particular AP test at hand.
     
    Precisely.

    Of course, those of us who are really "test-wise" -- good at seeing through the "gotcha" questions, etc. -- can do better than we deserve on almost any test. I was one of those kids, and perhaps Steve's sons are also.

    I'd like to think that being super-test-wise is a sign of high intelligence, but I'm beginning to wonder if it isn't closer to being an idiot savant!

    Dave

    “More evidence, I am afraid, that on the AP tests, being test-wise is much more important than actual knowledge.”

    “Of course, those of us who are really “test-wise” — good at seeing through the “gotcha” questions, etc. — can do better than we deserve on almost any test. I was one of those kids, and perhaps Steve’s sons are also.”

    That is not how the current AP tests operate. Here is a sample of the type of multiple choice questions they ask for the exam on American History. Note the following does NOT come an actual test from the college board, but it is representative of the questions they pose. Like Disney, the College Board have lawyers who protect their brand like wild dogs who just killed their prey. I prefer not to engage in copyright infringement.

    FDR, “Quarantine Speech”, 1937
    “The peace-loving nations must make a concerted effort in opposition to those
    violations of treaties and those ignoring of humane instincts which today are creating a state of international anarchy and instability from which there is no escape through mere isolation or neutrality. Those who cherish their freedom and recognize and respect the equal right of their neighbors to be free and live in peace, must work together for the triumph of law and moral principles in order that peace, justice and confidence may prevail in the world. There must be a return to a belief in the pledged word, in the value of a signed treaty. There must be recognition of the fact that national morality is as vital as private morality.”

    The ideas expressed in the excerpt differed from 1920’s foreign policy in which of the following?
    a. The avoidance of political entanglements in Europe and Asia.
    b. The moral imperative to combat aggression on a global scale.
    c. The promotion of American business interests in Latin America.
    d. The development of military alliances with several nations.

    Which of the following events during FDR’s tenure in the 1930’s was a departure from that 1920’s foreign policy?
    a. Discussing war goals with key allies.
    b. Retooling factories for war materials.
    c. Limiting the number of warships built.
    d. Refusing to invoke the Neutrality Acts.

    FDR’s “Quarantine Speech” resulted in:
    a. a rebuke by Congress in response to its subdued tone.
    b. the public vehemently opposing its assertive rhetoric.
    c. moral arguments against opposing Germany and Japan.
    d. economic pressure and threats of force against aggressors.

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    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    Corvinus,

    As you say, these are not questions from the actual AP tests. But, perhaps it does illustrate my point.

    Take the first question you quote:

    The ideas expressed in the excerpt differed from 1920’s foreign policy in which of the following?
    a. The avoidance of political entanglements in Europe and Asia.
    b. The moral imperative to combat aggression on a global scale.
    c. The promotion of American business interests in Latin America.
    d. The development of military alliances with several nations.
     
    None of those options is actually presented in the quote from FDR. Now, of course, knowing how test-makers think, I can guess that (b) is probably the answer they want, although (d) is almost as good (or bad). Knowing the additional fact that FDR did not formally form an alliance with Britain until the Newfoundland meeting with Churchill in August 1941, and knowing that the test creators (probably) know this also, I am willing to rule out answer (d), but you cannot tell that from the quoted passage.

    But, let's be honest: the quote from FDR was actually just political boilerplate, intentionally bland and ambiguous, which of course well-served his domestic political needs at the time (in 1937, the country was still overwhelmingly isolationist): FDR certainly was not going to baldly announce to the American people in 1937 that his plan was for the USA to "combat aggression on a global scale." The test question is anachronistic and politically naive.

    You or I or any decent student could write a reasonable essay expanding on that political reality.

    But, no, instead we have to choose among four answers, every one of which misses the actual point of why FDR said what he said.

    Why doesn't it occur to most people that those who actually understand a lot about history (or physics or chemistry or economics or biology or...) are not writing tests for the College Board? Obviously, such people have better things to do!

    Dave
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  49. Luke Lea says:

    My daughter took AP American History. It was such a whirlwind of facts I don’t think she got the overall picture, particularly since she had never been exposed to much American history in grammar school or junior high.

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    • Replies: @Tiny Duck
    How does it feel? Knowing that you will be the grandfather of a Child of Color?
    , @Anonymous
    That is bizarre to me. My junior high was baby American History in 7th and baby Civics in 8th. So doing 11th and 12th was a natural going deeper and rather progressive (pedagogically, not politically).
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  50. res says:
    @education realist
    "Any idea who pushed the idea of increasing AP classes in those high schools in the first place?"

    Jay Mathews. Haven't you ever seen Stand and Deliver, or heard about his Challenge Index? He and Newsweek started an America's Best High Schools which was derived purely from one metric: how many seniors had taken AP Exams. Taken, not passed. It began in 1998.

    So utter crap schools in the inner city could get ranked as a great high school simply for forcing all their kids to take AP tests after taking AP "classes" that weren't anything like.

    At the same time, California banned affirmative action, so the UC system altered its admission criteria to weight grades as 75% of the overall admissions factor. Since AP classes get a point more in GPA (even without taking the test), this led to a push by Asian American parents to have their kids to take every possible AP they could (and often cheat on the tests), although they care much more about the grade.

    Whites don't care as much about grades, and often times in white/asian schools, there's too many signups for AP classes so it goes to the kids with the highest grades. Which isn't to say that plenty of whites aren't taking APs, too.

    From what I can tell, whites are comfortably ensconced in the middle of the country without too many Asians in competition, so they really don't need to take AP classes. They really don't save you that much time in college anymore, particularly good ones.

    I once did a (very rudimentary) examination of AP preferences by race. It's what you 'd expect.

    Recently, there was much wailing about blacks not taking AP--wrote about it here.

    One thing that is completely ignored is how many Chinese, Koreans, and Spanish speakers get "credit" for taking tests designed for language learners in their native languages. Pisses me off.

    Jay Mathews. Haven’t you ever seen Stand and Deliver, or heard about his Challenge Index?

    Thanks for the answer. I saw Stand and Deliver many years ago.

    Glad to see you back here and that comment was a good example of why.

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    • Replies: @ScarletNumber
    You are easily impressed
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  51. Yak-15 says:

    The number of perfect scores on all these standardized tests is far too high and does not allow differentiation among very high level students. The need to open up the tests to make perfect scores impossible but also allow for the smartest to really shine.

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  52. @Yan Shen
    I'm not a huge fan of the AP tests either, but let me maybe push back a little bit against your comments on the STEM subjects.

    But the real problem is the STEM tests. Because the College Board guarantees not to include anything not on the list of announced topics, they cannot have a high ceiling that rewards those students who have gone above and beyond the base level (for example, they test for the integral form but not the differential form of Gauss’s law, Ampere’s law, and Faraday’s law on Physics C Electricity and Magnetism).

    Yet, they need some way of spreading out the students’ scores. So, what they do is have problems that just can’t be solved in the time allotted unless you have been especially trained to rapidly solve the sort of rather silly problems that the College Board is known to put on the STEM AP tests
     
    Well I mean isn't it sort of expected on most content based tests that the content only covers the list of announced topics? Imagine if you were taking a finals for some class in college and you were tested on something that you weren't expecting to be tested on. Wouldn't make much sense right? Hence my point about the AP exams being less inherently g-loaded/more amenable to prep compared to a pure cognitive test. Your complaint about the physics C AP exam seems to be that maybe it's not "hard" enough, which I guess might be fair? >.<

    I don't recall the AP Calc exam that I took back in the day containing "gimmicky" problems favoring those who knew special tricks. They were just basic calculus questions. I think more in general for entry level math problems, you can learn to solve certain problem types perhaps without really possessing a deep understanding of the underlying math, but I don't see that as necessarily a problem specific to the AP STEM exams, i.e. you're just as likely to do that when taking intro calculus at college, etc.

    Anyway, a bit surprised that you didn't point out that the AP exams have a pretty low ceiling given that that you can miss a decent number of questions and still get a 5. To me, that's probably the biggest drawback, along with some of the fluffier subjects like History, Geography, etc.

    Let's look at AMC/AIME scores or the likes, I say!

    Well I mean isn’t it sort of expected on most content based tests that the content only covers the list of announced topics? Imagine if you were taking a finals for some class in college and you were tested on something that you weren’t expecting to be tested on. Wouldn’t make much sense right? Hence my point about the AP exams being less inherently g-loaded/more amenable to prep compared to a pure cognitive test. Your complaint about the physics C AP exam seems to be that maybe it’s not “hard” enough, which I guess might be fair? >.<

    It’s actually quite easy to make content based tests more g-loaded. The Singapore H2 Chemistry paper (much more difficult than AP Chemistry, but at the same age group) is (in)famous for this – teaching a new concept/context in a question and then asking students to apply it immediately, as well as extending concepts they have already learned to the new situation. Needless to say, only the best students can handle it.

    You may also want to take a look at a very specific type of question common in the H2 Chemistry paper, the oft-dreaded elucidation question in organic chemistry. All the preparation and memorisation in the world is useless unless you can put together the information and make the necessary deductions. As I always say to students – the best way to prepare for these is to actually read (not watch!) Sherlock Holmes or any decent detective story.

    http://www.wewwchemistry.com/2013/09/the-mind-boggling-h2-chemistry

    I remember students trying out sample papers from AP Chemistry and complaining bitterly about the difficulty of their own exams.

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  53. Luke Lea says:
    @Rod1963

    From what I can tell, whites are comfortably ensconced in the middle of the country without too many Asians in competition, so they really don’t need to take AP classes. They really don’t save you that much time in college anymore, particularly good ones.
     
    Also if they don't have "working with your hands if for stupid people" mentality that Asians and upper class whites have. They can take up a trade and make a nice living and not have to worry about being out-sourced or replaced by a Babu or Chinese coolie.

    Sure it's not cool like having a college degree and sitting at a desk all day in some cube farm. But the work is honest and you're not saddled with six figure debt right out of the starting gate.

    To be blunt, with all the frenzy by our elites to replace white workers with lower wage, docile foreigners(docile to management not to us) I really can't see why a smart white boy would take the college route knowing in a decade his job and career will probably be done by some foreigner.

    “sitting at a desk all day in some cube farm.”

    Cube farm — nice term!

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  54. res says:
    @DFH
    Cambridge does actually have a comparable exam that sixth-formers (High School in yank) need to take to get in.
    They are really, really hard. I can't imagine that there's a comparably difficult exam for people of that age anywhere in the world.
    Also (cruelly) they give offers to far more people than they have places for and then let STEP weed out the ones they want.

    https://www.maths.cam.ac.uk/undergrad/admissions/step

    That is for math majors only, right? It might be cruel (do you have more details on the admissions process and the timing of the weeding out?), but it seems like a good way to select for students likely to succeed at high level math. I wonder how it compares to Math Olympiad, etc. type tests in utility for selection. Presumably someone at Cambridge would have a decent answer for that question.

    I thought the “Why Step?” section at your link was informative and aligns somewhat with the benefits of AP classes.

    Cambridge Colleges like to make offers involving STEP for the following main reasons:

    1. STEP is a far better predictor of success in the Mathematical Tripos than A-levels. One reason for this is that the questions are less standard and less structured, which helps to distinguish between ability (or potential) and good teaching.
    2. Preparation for STEP serves as useful preparation for our course.
    3. The STEP marks and the scripts themselves are available for inspection by college staff. This means that it is possible to make allowances for a near miss and to make judgements on the actual work rather than on just the marks or grades.
    4.The meaning of A-level grades may differ significantly between the different boards, so STEP provides a fairer ‘across the board’ comparison.

    Many other universities recommend that their mathematics applicants practise on past STEP papers as preparation for university-style mathematics, and some encourage applicants to take STEP papers and may take STEP results into account.

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  55. res says:
    @Lot
    Too bad for us with very high verbal there is/was nothing like this. I got a 74 on the PSAT-V when I was 12 taking it completely cold (no prep, no notice I'd be taking it at all until they grabbed me from class). By the time I took the real thing and then the SAT, an 80/800 was a sure thing. I would have loved some contests like USAMO.

    I suppose I could have taken the GRE.

    Do you recall why they tested you at 12? That sounds like the kind of thing an IQ study (like the SMPY or Duke TIP) would do. I wonder if taking it cold was intentionally part of the protocol.

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    • Replies: @Jack D
    For SMPY they will take anyone with over a 700 on EITHER math or verbal before age 13, though most get in on math. There's no requirement that you take it cold (how could you enforce that anyway?) and you can bet your sweet bippy that the Asian kids prep for it.

    Americans have this strange idea that talent is supposed to be this effortless gift from God so practicing is somehow "cheating", but Asians view talent as something that has to be developed with hard work regardless of your natural gifts. Anyone you see up on a concert stage has practiced countless hours regardless of how naturally talented they were.
    , @Lot
    I don't remember why I took the PSAT all three years of middle school. It was free and the school selected about 10 students to take it. We took a lot of standardized tests, so it did not seem out of the ordinary. The most interesting test was when a psychologist visited the school and gave a few of us one on one oral IQ tests. I am not sure which one, but it included forward and backward digit span questions.

    I did not participate in the study you mentioned even though it included my age cohort and I qualified. This was in a small town not near any major metropolitan areas.
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  56. res says:
    @Lot
    Part of being test wise on multiple choice tests is ruling out answers that engage in logical fallacy. You can do better than random guessing on something you know absolutely nothing about.

    I loved my formal logic class in freshman year of college, I wish I could have taken it in middle school.

    If you know any high schooler or precocious late middle schooler who wants to learn about formal logic this online course is worth a look: http://intrologic.stanford.edu/homepage/index.html
    The Coursera version has lecture videos which I am not seeing at the Stanford link: https://www.coursera.org/learn/logic-introduction/

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  57. Jack D says:
    @Anonymous

    This kind of reminds me of the anti-Japanese hysteria that peaked around the late 1980s and early 1990s in America, when supposedly the Japanese cheated their way to dominating the US automobile and consumer electronics industries. There was even that novel by Michael Crichton, Rising Sun, that while entertaining, at times read like the Protocols of the Elders of Tokyo…
     
    The Japanese sold product below the cost they charged domestic customers and occasionally at or below cost of manufacture to build market share. They figured they would run domestic competition out, and in consumer electronics they did. In automobiles there were two reasons they failed: first, there was a hard core of people that would only buy a domestic car (but had no second thoughts about a Japanese TV, stereo or camera) and secondly the UAW still had enough power that the Japanese, even in the time of Reagan, staved off tariffs only with a 'voluntary' restriction on numbers. I did computer work for a Toyota dealer in 1984-85 and they were charging way over list for Toyotas because supply was far under demand for desirable models. You couldn't get a new Toyota for sticker price unless it was an oddball like a diesel or a bigger four door sedan with a manual transmission. Toyota dealers were making record profits for two or three years.

    Toyotas have in my mind always been reliable but overpriced cars with overpriced parts.

    Honda was even worse in terms of the mismatch between supply and demand. In those days the Honda dealers wouldn’t even let you test drive a car. In part this was due to “voluntary” restrictions on imports but even after they built a US factory Hondas rarely pile up on the dealer lots the way American cars do. US automakers have excess capacity that they use to crank out the sales in good years and then in bad years they close down factories. Honda limits their capacity so that they never have factories that sit idle in bad years.

    As far as “overpriced” , there’s no doubt that you’ll pay more for a comparable Toyota than say a Dodge/Chrysler based on actual out the door pricing after discounts, manuf. cash back, etc. Market prices reflect the judgment of the market as to value. Sure a Camry would cost you more than a Dodge up front but would it cost you more after 10 years of ownership? Back in the “Malaise Era” it would have been even worse – the 10 year old Toyota would still have a lot of life in it (especially in a place where they don’t salt the roads such as California which was their 1st big market) while the 10 year old K-Car would be falling to pieces – the tranny would have blown, etc. Sometimes not in 10 years but soon after the warranty ran out. There are literally millions of stories from that time that involve some tale of woe involving an American car and end with ” and that’s why I’ll never buy a [Ford, Chrysler, Chevy, etc.] again. The Japanese did not win customers so much as the Big 3 lost them.

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    • Agree: Johann Ricke
    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Many 70s and 80s American cars were in fact royal shitboxes, but the K-cars-the original Aries and Reliant K-were generally very durable reliable cars, if not overpowered, and not particularly refined.
    , @Ganderson
    My 2007 Accord , which my son is currently driving, just turned 230,000 miles, with mostly just normal upkeep. Great car. I'm currently driving a Ford Fusion, mainly because Honda wouldn't sell me a 5 speed Accord with the bells and whistles I wanted. I'm guessing my days of driving a manual are numbered. I like the Fusion- let's see if it makes a quarter of a million miles!
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  58. @res

    Jay Mathews. Haven’t you ever seen Stand and Deliver, or heard about his Challenge Index?
     
    Thanks for the answer. I saw Stand and Deliver many years ago.

    Glad to see you back here and that comment was a good example of why.

    You are easily impressed

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  59. Jack D says:
    @res
    Do you recall why they tested you at 12? That sounds like the kind of thing an IQ study (like the SMPY or Duke TIP) would do. I wonder if taking it cold was intentionally part of the protocol.

    For SMPY they will take anyone with over a 700 on EITHER math or verbal before age 13, though most get in on math. There’s no requirement that you take it cold (how could you enforce that anyway?) and you can bet your sweet bippy that the Asian kids prep for it.

    Americans have this strange idea that talent is supposed to be this effortless gift from God so practicing is somehow “cheating”, but Asians view talent as something that has to be developed with hard work regardless of your natural gifts. Anyone you see up on a concert stage has practiced countless hours regardless of how naturally talented they were.

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  60. dearieme says:
    @Anonymous

    This kind of reminds me of the anti-Japanese hysteria that peaked around the late 1980s and early 1990s in America, when supposedly the Japanese cheated their way to dominating the US automobile and consumer electronics industries. There was even that novel by Michael Crichton, Rising Sun, that while entertaining, at times read like the Protocols of the Elders of Tokyo…
     
    The Japanese sold product below the cost they charged domestic customers and occasionally at or below cost of manufacture to build market share. They figured they would run domestic competition out, and in consumer electronics they did. In automobiles there were two reasons they failed: first, there was a hard core of people that would only buy a domestic car (but had no second thoughts about a Japanese TV, stereo or camera) and secondly the UAW still had enough power that the Japanese, even in the time of Reagan, staved off tariffs only with a 'voluntary' restriction on numbers. I did computer work for a Toyota dealer in 1984-85 and they were charging way over list for Toyotas because supply was far under demand for desirable models. You couldn't get a new Toyota for sticker price unless it was an oddball like a diesel or a bigger four door sedan with a manual transmission. Toyota dealers were making record profits for two or three years.

    Toyotas have in my mind always been reliable but overpriced cars with overpriced parts.

    “The Japanese sold product … occasionally at or below cost of manufacture to build market share. ” …..
    “a Toyota dealer in 1984-85 and they were charging way over list”

    So the Japanese both overcharged and undercharged. Subtle blighters these orientals.

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    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Silly goose, that's like asking if Jews are capitalists or communists. (To use an old "canard" as an example.)


    They undercharged at one time so they could overcharge later, in essence. They figured-correctly, in the case of electronics-that once RCA, GE, Motorola and the rest were out of consumertronics they were not getting back in. They were right.
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  61. songbird says:

    One of the drawbacks of APs is that many colleges now require diversity courses to graduate, so while you still get the credit for APs, you still need to take these basket-weaving classes, regardless. Part of it is no doubt about indoctrination, but part of it is obviously a giant economic subsidy to put butts into the seats of classrooms and departments that would be mostly deserted otherwise.

    I’ve long thought that legalizing IQ tests for employment would be a good idea and would eviscerate the college system, but I’m not so sure about that second part any more, as South Korea certainly seems to have a large college system.

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  62. Jack D says:
    @Yan Shen
    Sorry I ran out of time to edit my previous comment so let me try to summarize my thoughts a bit more succinctly here. Here's why I'm not as bullish on the AP exams as Steve is.

    First, one of the main drawbacks with the AP exams is that the 1-5 scoring threshold simply isn't discriminatory enough. On many AP tests you can miss a decent number of problems and still score a 5. Two people who both scored a 5 on the Calc BC exam can actually differ significantly in terms of quantitative aptitude. IIRC at my high school back in the day, there were people who scored a 5 on the Calc BC who scored in the low 700s on the SAT math, also another test with a relatively low ceiling. I'm sure if you look at actual SAT math scores versus Calc BC scores, there are probably people who scored below a 700 on SAT math who were still able to get a 5.

    Second, not all tests seem to me to be equally useful or accepted by colleges. As I stated in my previous comment, in skimming a handful of the top colleges, I see that usually stuff like US History, World History, US Government and Politics, English Language, English Literature, etc. don't receive any college credit. I suspect that blacks and Hispanics who are being pushed to take additional AP exams probably gravitate disproportionately towards subjects as opposed to say Calc BC or Physics C. I would personally push to cull some of these tests and focus more on the more useful and relevant subject areas.

    Third, when most colleges try to assess students, what they typically want to estimate is 1) how smart a person is and 2) how hard working and conscientious they are. The typical argument is that the SAT is a relatively g-loaded exam and not significantly amenable to test prep, although I'm sure some of that effect exists. I see AP exams as being less a measure of innate aptitude than a purely cognitive test and more a reflection of how well you've prepped for the particular content, although the extent of this obviously depends on the particular AP test at hand.

    Do you really think for instance that AP US History is more g-loaded than the SAT verbal? On the other hand, I could definitely see Physics C being more g-loaded than say US Government and Politics. Given the current state that AP tests are in, the best approach is to view them as an additional data point along with SAT scores and grades, rather than favoring them over the other two.

    The purpose of the AP Tests (and more importantly the whole AP system) is not to give colleges an additional data point on who to admit.

    Its purpose (which of course is getting lost like a lot of things – modern America has totally lost sight of the ball in so many different ways and places that it’s not even funny – in fact when we inevitably run out of steam it will all be seen as tragic by future historians) is to give advanced high school students the ability to study college freshman level material while they are still in high school. Students who can take such a course and get a 4 or a 5 (in some mediocre schools a 3) on the test, equivalent to scoring an A or a B, should be able to skip the equivalent freshman level course in college (and sometimes get credit for same) and proceed directly to the 200 level course. That’s it -that’s the whole purpose. Advanced PLACEMENT – that’s it. The rest is all BS driven by our crazy racial politics and other nonsense.

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    • Agree: Triumph104
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  63. @Bubba

    But a nephew who AP’d out of his entire freshman year at the U. of Illinois immediately flunked out because his sophomore level engineering courses he took as a freshman were so tough relative to how much xBox he was playing without his mom around to nag him into doing his homework.
     
    While he may have been distracted by an xBox, I bet he did not compete with as many Asians at U of Illinois as he did in high school. It was a rude awakening for me and glad I did not use my AP credits in college. The engineering degree I received was well deserved and the competition was fierce.

    You think he competed with fewer Asians at university than in high school?

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  64. Jack D says:
    @AnotherDad

    To be blunt, with all the frenzy by our elites to replace white workers with lower wage, docile foreigners(docile to management not to us) I really can’t see why a smart white boy would take the college route knowing in a decade his job and career will probably be done by some foreigner.
     
    You really can't see it? Seriously?

    If a smart kid is interested in a trade--that's really what he's jazzed to do--then go for it. I do think that's a better route than some sort of bullshit college degree. (E.g. "communications".)

    But there's a big bucket of other stuff out there to do--in fact precisely the stuff that most smart white boys want to do--for which going to college and learning some stuff, or at least going to college and getting your ticket punched--is absolutely necessary. For instance, my "smart white boy" wanted to do engineering. Now he's out there learning about what day-to-day engineering and corporate life is actually like. What he'll do down the road--hard to say. But he couldn't have gotten his foot in the door without the college degree.

    And btw folks working in the trades are very much subject to replacement as well. If you can get a business up and running in a white area and develop a decent set of neighborly contacts--great, you can probably make a good go of it. But they'll be foreigners brought in to do those things as well.

    The very simple truth is if the US labor market is open to the world ... then everyone is subject to replacement.

    The US is awesome because of the overall capabilities, character and culture of white guys working in a resource rich environment. (I.e. its a racial/cultural group project.) But there is virtually no *individual* for whom an adequate labor substitute is not available out there somewhere in the world.

    Mediocrities are a dime a dozen and are available in all shapes and colors. But real talent is rare and usually gets recognized one way or another – corporations are out there laying off their BOTTOM 10% every year, not their top 10%. Even if someone truly talented gets caught up in the purges, they can land on their feet somewhere.

    Of course, this is sort of trivial advice, like saying that the best way to succeed on a dating site is to be really attractive.

    But, what this really means is that you should pick some field where you can really excel. Better to be a really excellent HVAC tech than a mediocre engineer.

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  65. “. So it looks like 1% of the overall relevant population took the test. Obviously not all schools offer it, etc etc.”

    As opposed to entire state senior populations that take the college admissions tests. Can’t see why Steve would think there was some sort of selection bias.

    “Competitive high school tests are more interesting than standardized high school tests in terms of identifying tail end talent. ”

    Not any more. High school math has become about shoving as much math as possible into students who don’t care about anything other than getting an A. I’ve run into too many kids with a 5 on the BC who can’t factor, or don’t know why factoring is a needed skill, or don’t understand what it is. Kids who don’t have the vaguest notion of number theory, or how quadratic zeros relate. Kids won’t don’t have any idea as to what the difference between a function and an equation is.

    This is a significant weakness of high school math which we can lay at the feet of colleges who originally demanded that calculus be shoved down to the high school level, and Asian immigration, which created a large body of students utterly willing to regurgitate whatever someone else chewed first and stuck in their mouth.

    I’m not saying that the kids in the Olympiad aren’t smart, although I”m skeptical that there’s more than a couple really smarts and a shit ton of slogs. I’m saying that they are the only smart ones interested enough to go through the moronic hoops demanded of high school math to qualify.

    “My AP calc teacher covered the equivalent of two and a half semesters worth of calc at my college, but in my son’s year-long AP classes they seem to be done with coursework in February and then spend two months practicing for the May exam. I suspect teachers at our high school get some sort of bonus for kids who take the exam and score well, too. ”

    That’s pretty typical. They shove their way through the coursework then spend months reviewing. Teachers don’t get bonuses, but if they don’t get good results it ultimately ends their ability to teach AP.

    At some schools, AP teachers are the highest respected, best rooms, etc, and all the other teachers get the losers. But at mixed SES mixed demographic schools like mine, teachers that can work with at risk unmotivated kids are usually equally valued. But AP kids are easier, of course, and if you’re a math teacher in particular it means you’re only getting kids who had to take four or five years of math first.

    “Glad to see you back here and that comment was a good example of why.”

    Thanks, but comments here are getting kind of crazy. (No, I don’t mean people bitching about my Asian posts.)

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    • Replies: @Opinionator
    Thanks, but comments here are getting kind of crazy.

    How so?
    , @Anonymous
    One thing that is new to me s a trend (and seems to come from the more AP emphasis, nationwide) is the emphasis on teaching to the test. I can think of an AP Cal teacher blog and an AP Chem teacher blog where they very much emphasize teaching only what is on the test. This is a little different from what I remember in the 80s, where the teachers tried to teach smart high school kids a college course and just the last couple weeks show a little of the format of AP essay questions and the like.
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  66. @education realist
    "Any idea who pushed the idea of increasing AP classes in those high schools in the first place?"

    Jay Mathews. Haven't you ever seen Stand and Deliver, or heard about his Challenge Index? He and Newsweek started an America's Best High Schools which was derived purely from one metric: how many seniors had taken AP Exams. Taken, not passed. It began in 1998.

    So utter crap schools in the inner city could get ranked as a great high school simply for forcing all their kids to take AP tests after taking AP "classes" that weren't anything like.

    At the same time, California banned affirmative action, so the UC system altered its admission criteria to weight grades as 75% of the overall admissions factor. Since AP classes get a point more in GPA (even without taking the test), this led to a push by Asian American parents to have their kids to take every possible AP they could (and often cheat on the tests), although they care much more about the grade.

    Whites don't care as much about grades, and often times in white/asian schools, there's too many signups for AP classes so it goes to the kids with the highest grades. Which isn't to say that plenty of whites aren't taking APs, too.

    From what I can tell, whites are comfortably ensconced in the middle of the country without too many Asians in competition, so they really don't need to take AP classes. They really don't save you that much time in college anymore, particularly good ones.

    I once did a (very rudimentary) examination of AP preferences by race. It's what you 'd expect.

    Recently, there was much wailing about blacks not taking AP--wrote about it here.

    One thing that is completely ignored is how many Chinese, Koreans, and Spanish speakers get "credit" for taking tests designed for language learners in their native languages. Pisses me off.

    One thing that is completely ignored is how many Chinese, Koreans, and Spanish speakers get “credit” for taking tests designed for language learners in their native languages. Pisses me off.

    So what? You don’t get that much credit for doing well on language AP tests. In a world of unfairness it does seem odd that this particular issue pisses you off. Annoying, maybe, but not really anger worthy.

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    • Replies: @Lot
    People acing tests of their first language designed to test learners also results in scholarships being misallocated among already admitted students, and further screws up the curves of these tests.
    , @Old fogey
    In the ancient times when I was in school there were no students in my high school who were allowed to take a foreign-language class who already knew the language. (My high school, by the way, offered classes in Latin, German, French, and Italian - no Spanish.)

    One young man signed up for an introductory German class in my college, but he did not last long because the teacher immediately identified him as a native German-speaker, even though he had no accent at all (his parents had immigrated to the U.S. before he was born). He was placed directly in a graduate-level class in German instead. The emphasis was on learning, not points.
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  67. On the topic of AP as cognitive vs acquired knowledge:

    The whole purpose was to be acquired knowledge, to see how students do in acquiring content as opposed to general intelligence, speed and processing. An AP test score of 4 or 5 is very interesting when considering average or slightly lower than average SAT/ACT scores, because it means the student is not good at quickly accessing or manipulating knowledge, but can competently acquire a large body of knowledge and write or focus on that topic.

    This describes a number of bright African Americans very well. I know personally four or five black students (mostly female) who don’t have high SAT scores except a high essay score, but got 4s or 5s on the APUSH and APENG tests. This means they can read, think, and write on focused topics, but aren’t particularly good at quickly reading new information and analyze it. They need time.

    I know another 5-10 black students who do have fairly high SAT scores and also get good AP scores, but the AP serves to distinguish different students within the low-SAT score range. There are almost certainly more black kids than we’re finding in this group, because a lot of them will be boys who have mentally checked out of thinking school’s for them.

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    • Replies: @res

    This describes a number of bright African Americans very well. I know personally four or five black students (mostly female) who don’t have high SAT scores except a high essay score, but got 4s or 5s on the APUSH and APENG tests. This means they can read, think, and write on focused topics, but aren’t particularly good at quickly reading new information and analyze it. They need time.

    I know another 5-10 black students who do have fairly high SAT scores and also get good AP scores, but the AP serves to distinguish different students within the low-SAT score range. There are almost certainly more black kids than we’re finding in this group, because a lot of them will be boys who have mentally checked out of thinking school’s for them.
     
    I would be interested in hearing more about how these groups perform. Have you watched older cohorts like that go through college and into work? Any idea how they did? Have you written anything about this on your blog?
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  68. Jack D says:
    @Yan Shen
    https://www.quora.com/Approximately-what-percentage-of-USAMO-qualifiers-get-into-Harvard-MIT-and-other-top-schools

    Anecdotally, for domestic USAMO qualifiers, around 90% of applicants are admitted to MIT and around 30% are admitted to Harvard.

    This is consistent with the fact that MIT admissions weights STEM awards higher than Harvard admissions, which seems to prioritize well-roundedness.
     
    Anecdotal data, so take it with a grain of salt. But consistent with what I've heard in general about schools like MIT and Caltech basically viewing you extremely favorably if you're able to accomplish something like qualify for the USAMO. Also, MIT's been on a bit of a tear in Putnam also recently, IIRC, so in general they tend to look favorably upon these kinds of things.


    In general, I’m pretty bullish on AP tests, and feel they should be given more weight in college admissions. They have advantages over high school grades (they’re nationally consistent) and advantages over SAT/ACT tests (if kids are going to prep endlessly for a test, they might as well learn something in the process). But the tests are only given in May of each year, which limits their utility for college applications. There should be one semester AP tests in popular subject given in early December each year with grading done over the Christmas vacation to be ready for college applications due on January 1.
     
    Kinda sorta agree, but also disagree. They're definitely more consistent than high school grades,
    but to me there are drawbacks. AP exams are useful if say you can get a 5 on a calc BC exam and get credit for some introductory calc class in college, but I wonder if maybe some of the less widely accepted tests can be rid of. For instance in just looking at a handful of top schools, I see that usually stuff like English Language/Literature, US History, World History, Government, Geography or the likes don't receive any credit. I suspect that pushing additional NAMs into taking AP classes is probably also disproportionately towards the histories and geographies as opposed to say physics C or calc BC or the likes.

    Yeah for sure getting a 5 on physics C mechanics and e&m probably says something useful about your quantitative aptitude and or conscientiousness, but I still feel like 1) 1-5 scale isn't discriminatory enough and 2) surely the SAT is more g-loaded than AP exams and less amenable to prep? How g-loaded is an AP history exam for instance compared to the SAT verbal?

    You have to understand how the game is played at a place like MIT. They are driven 1st and foremost by their need to come up with a sufficient # of marginally qualified women and minorities. BUT they are also driven by their need to keep their averages up for US NEWS and other rankings (and to have enough people so that they can still have a 1st rate math & physics dept. ) Thirdly they are driven by their need to differentiate between all the highly academically qualified but otherwise indistinguishable Asian candidates. So you let in 1 black guy with 700 SATs and counterbalance him with 2 Asian guys with 800s to keep your average at 766.

    So when you put this all through the sausage factory (it’s not pretty) you end up with a situation where if you are a black female then they don’t care whether you are a USAMO qualifier or not (good thing because black female USAMO qualifiers are as rare as hen’s teeth) but if you are a nerdy Asian male then USAMO is definitely a plus.

    Unfortunately, a lot of Asians take this to mean that they should be even more nerdy than they already are. I’ll do USAMO and ten more math contests too – as many as I can find to show them that I am REALLY smart. While USAMO is a plus, if they could do some non-stereotypically Asian thing (say excel at some sport or at musical theater or something) then MIT would like them even more. MIT grits its teeth and takes the colorless nerdy Asian USAMO kids because they need a certain # of them and if you are going to take a nerd you might as well take a supernerd but that’s not who the liberals who run the admission office really love.

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  69. “You don’t get that much credit for doing well on language AP tests. ”

    Many universities require three subject tests, and don’t care what they’re in, just looking for excellent scores in as many as possible. The subject and AP language tests are normed for non-natives, meaning it’s a simple matter for a native to get a high score.

    Meanwhile, whites and blacks who study language are going to get low scores, while the scores in *their* tests–US History, English Lit–are very hard to get high scores in.

    The Subject Math 2c test is a joke. It’s a great test, but there are calculator programs that enable kids to literally just select the type of question, punch in the numbers, and get the answer. Asian kids get the answers. White kids generally won’t, or don’t know about it. I’ve talked to several white kids at private schools who told me they just won’t do it. They want to know how well they’ll do without the programs.

    This is why UC dropped Subject tests. They wanted to commit affirmative action and liked the fact that the Spanish test boosted their ability to get Hispanic kids, but they didn’t like being forced to take so many Asian kids.

    At this point, it’s moot, though. The numbers suggest white kids are starting to avoid the UCs, just as they’re avoiding the top NY high schools. Saul Geiser has hinted at this.

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    • Replies: @keuril

    Many universities require three subject tests
     
    If I recall correctly, only Georgetown still requires three Subject Tests. The top Ivies, Stanford, and a shrinking handful of other highly selective national universities only require two. At this point, I don’t think any liberal arts colleges still require them. There might be a holdout or two, but Williams and Amherst have done away with them.

    The move away from Subject Tests started when UC eliminated the requirement, for the reasons you noted. Still, the Subject Test enjoys a level of legitimacy in the admissions process that AP tests don’t. To begin with, it is possible to list Subject Tests as an application requirement, but I’ve never heard of a US school requiring AP tests (a small number of overseas schools, such as Cambridge, require APs from US applicants). Subject Tests can be taken throughout the year, and the schools that require them generally require you to send in your score via the College Board (Chicago is an exception in allowing self reporting), whereas AP scores are simply self reported on the Common App. Lastly, Subject Tests are famously part of the formula used by the Ivy League sports teams to calculate the Academic Index for each athlete.

    At selective schools, Subject Tests are definitely a way to distinguish oneself more than SAT reasoning or ACT. The type of test definitely matters—nobody is impressed by native speakers getting an 800 in their language, and the Math II has a huge number of 800s so Asians in particular will not stand out much there. But if you’re Asian and get an 800 in English Lit, it will be noticed.
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  70. “While USAMO is a plus, if they could do some non-stereotypically Asian thing (say excel at some sport or at musical theater or something) then MIT would like them even more.”

    I mentioned this in the first half of the preferences piece. Asian kids who aren’t genuinely bright but slogs avoid APENG or AP Euro because they can’t be sure they’ll do well.

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  71. “The purpose of the AP Tests (and more importantly the whole AP system) is not to give colleges an additional data point on who to admit.”

    This is correct, although that’s the only useful thing APs provide these days.

    “Its purpose (which of course is getting lost like a lot of things – modern America has totally lost sight of the ball in so many different ways and places that it’s not even funny – in fact when we inevitably run out of steam it will all be seen as tragic by future historians) is to give advanced high school students the ability to study college freshman level material while they are still in high school.”

    Wrong. This is completely wrong. Not only is this no longer the purpose of AP, but in that original purpose, it has now failed. Math professors constantly say that the math tests are useless, that they don’t advise kids to skip entry level math courses even if they got 5s. AP English and APUSH are useful simply as reading and writing indicators but suggest no knowledge baseline.

    The *entire* point of AP for the past 20 years has been to provide a way for majority minority schools to provide a bunch of unqualified kids with good resumes to provide affirmative action cover.

    The unintended consequence of AP has been the Asian immigrant use of it as a grade booster, and the results on college admissions.

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    • Agree: Nico
    • Replies: @Jack D
    I meant the original purpose and I said that the original purpose has gotten lost so I don't disagree with you (and I was not "wrong" I was exactly right by your own terms).
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  72. res says:
    @education realist
    On the topic of AP as cognitive vs acquired knowledge:

    The whole purpose was to be acquired knowledge, to see how students do in acquiring content as opposed to general intelligence, speed and processing. An AP test score of 4 or 5 is very interesting when considering average or slightly lower than average SAT/ACT scores, because it means the student is not good at quickly accessing or manipulating knowledge, but can competently acquire a large body of knowledge and write or focus on that topic.

    This describes a number of bright African Americans very well. I know personally four or five black students (mostly female) who don't have high SAT scores except a high essay score, but got 4s or 5s on the APUSH and APENG tests. This means they can read, think, and write on focused topics, but aren't particularly good at quickly reading new information and analyze it. They need time.

    I know another 5-10 black students who do have fairly high SAT scores and also get good AP scores, but the AP serves to distinguish different students within the low-SAT score range. There are almost certainly more black kids than we're finding in this group, because a lot of them will be boys who have mentally checked out of thinking school's for them.

    This describes a number of bright African Americans very well. I know personally four or five black students (mostly female) who don’t have high SAT scores except a high essay score, but got 4s or 5s on the APUSH and APENG tests. This means they can read, think, and write on focused topics, but aren’t particularly good at quickly reading new information and analyze it. They need time.

    I know another 5-10 black students who do have fairly high SAT scores and also get good AP scores, but the AP serves to distinguish different students within the low-SAT score range. There are almost certainly more black kids than we’re finding in this group, because a lot of them will be boys who have mentally checked out of thinking school’s for them.

    I would be interested in hearing more about how these groups perform. Have you watched older cohorts like that go through college and into work? Any idea how they did? Have you written anything about this on your blog?

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  73. Kaz says:
    @Rod1963

    From what I can tell, whites are comfortably ensconced in the middle of the country without too many Asians in competition, so they really don’t need to take AP classes. They really don’t save you that much time in college anymore, particularly good ones.
     
    Also if they don't have "working with your hands if for stupid people" mentality that Asians and upper class whites have. They can take up a trade and make a nice living and not have to worry about being out-sourced or replaced by a Babu or Chinese coolie.

    Sure it's not cool like having a college degree and sitting at a desk all day in some cube farm. But the work is honest and you're not saddled with six figure debt right out of the starting gate.

    To be blunt, with all the frenzy by our elites to replace white workers with lower wage, docile foreigners(docile to management not to us) I really can't see why a smart white boy would take the college route knowing in a decade his job and career will probably be done by some foreigner.

    You can just send your kid to a local flagship university and come out with no debt… Unless you live in one of those awful states where in-state tuition is like 20k/yr..

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  74. Lot says:
    @Peter Akuleyev

    One thing that is completely ignored is how many Chinese, Koreans, and Spanish speakers get “credit” for taking tests designed for language learners in their native languages. Pisses me off.
     
    So what? You don't get that much credit for doing well on language AP tests. In a world of unfairness it does seem odd that this particular issue pisses you off. Annoying, maybe, but not really anger worthy.

    People acing tests of their first language designed to test learners also results in scholarships being misallocated among already admitted students, and further screws up the curves of these tests.

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  75. Nico says:

    But a nephew who AP’d out of his entire freshman year at the U. of Illinois immediately flunked out because his sophomore level engineering courses he took as a freshman were so tough relative to how much xBox he was playing without his mom around to nag him into doing his homework.

    That of course isn’t (entirely) the fault of the AP, but schools are right to be skeptical of AP test performance as equivalency for all 101 classes. Specifically I recall that AP Calculus, even the “BC” version, is not suitable as a substitute for first-year calculus for engineers. Where I went to school first-year calculus used the same textbooks we had used for AP Calculus in high school and there was a separate course called engineering calculus for the engineering students.

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    • Replies: @Anonymous
    I don't know, man. I got a 5 on BC in the early 80s. And the textbook was not Spivak, but Thomas Finney and was AP oriented. I placed out of first two semesters at the boat school and then had no problem in the following calc 3 and diffyQ classes. And no issues with any of the general engineering I took (and helped my buddy out who was NArch, but more of a drafting design type than a math type).

    Calculus is calculus. You can do Granville from 1900 and learn all the important parts. The real analysis fetish from Hardy, et al, is a waste. Engineers and physicists don't need theoretical calculus. They need to be able to do manipulation.
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  76. @Steve Sailer
    My older son went to a pretty good private high school which had a lot of AP courses and my younger son went to a really good private high school that refused to call courses AP because one of the benefits of teaching at that high school is you get to make up your own curriculum. They both took a lot of AP tests and both did well.

    One thing to keep in mind is that you don't have to take a course in the subject to take the AP test. For example, both boys passed AP Comparative Government even though there schools didn't offer a course in it. I think my wife called up the local super-school, Harvard-Westlake (e.g., Charlie Munger, the brains behind Warren Buffett, is on the Board of Trustees), and of course they were administering pretty much every AP test ever invented. And, perhaps more strikingly, they were very gracious and accommodating to a student at a different school dropping by to take the Comparative Government test. (In my limited experience with Harvard-Westlake in recent years, asking 3 or 4 favors of them, all the people who work there have been very nice toward outsiders. My impression is that most people are too intimidated to ask favors of them.

    But it's also that H-W, as SoCal's top school, hires top people: if you go back 15 years, the back-of-the-book section of the Atlantic Monthly at its peak was run by people with connections to H-W, like Benjamin Schwarz and Caitlin Flanagan. I frequently give Matthew Weiner, the creator of "Mad Men," a hard time about his not wholly objective perceptions of his years at Harvard-Westlake as a student and a teacher, but ... still, he's the creator of "Mad Men."

    Zena Edosomwan graduated from Harvard-Westlake and he wasn’t there because of his intellectual prowess. He had to spend a year after high school at Northfield Mount Hermon to raise his SAT score in order to go on to play basketball at Harvard University. In the Ivy League, recruited athletes have to qualify under the less demanding Athletic Index. For example, an athlete with a 3.0 GPA would need to have an SAT score of 1140 out of 1600. (LINK)

    Edosomwan arrived at Harvard-Westlake in the ninth grade after attending a public middle school, not one of the prep school’s typical feeder institutions. The question, as Greg Hilliard, then the boys’ basketball coach, explained, was: would he be able to handle the abrupt change in academics?

    Several school counselors suggested that he study Spanish, a relatively easy language. Edosomwan’s response shocked them: he wanted to study Mandarin. The impetus came from his mother, who had recognized the advantage of being able to speak Mandarin while trying to communicate with Chinese suppliers for her salon. Hilliard and others advised against it—there were so many other hard subjects, where he needed to catch up academically. But Edosomwan insisted: “No, that’s what I’m going to do, and I’m going to show you.”

    Still, during his first semester, when school officials and even he broached the possibility of dropping Mandarin, his mother issued an ultimatum. “The lady at the office called,” she recalled, “and I told the lady, ‘Well, he was not born playing basketball. He learned how to play basketball. So, he can learn Chinese as well. So, tell Zena his mom said he should stop playing basketball if he stops taking Chinese.’” That was it.

    Edosomwan remained undeterred. In tenth grade, he wrote down three goals: obtaining Division I offers, raising his GPA, and dressing nicely and improving his standing with the opposite sex….

    Edosomwan asked his teachers for extra work and guidance, and by senior year, he was getting all A’s and B’s.

    http://harvardmagazine.com/2017/02/zena-edosomwans-journey

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  77. @AnotherDad

    To be blunt, with all the frenzy by our elites to replace white workers with lower wage, docile foreigners(docile to management not to us) I really can’t see why a smart white boy would take the college route knowing in a decade his job and career will probably be done by some foreigner.
     
    You really can't see it? Seriously?

    If a smart kid is interested in a trade--that's really what he's jazzed to do--then go for it. I do think that's a better route than some sort of bullshit college degree. (E.g. "communications".)

    But there's a big bucket of other stuff out there to do--in fact precisely the stuff that most smart white boys want to do--for which going to college and learning some stuff, or at least going to college and getting your ticket punched--is absolutely necessary. For instance, my "smart white boy" wanted to do engineering. Now he's out there learning about what day-to-day engineering and corporate life is actually like. What he'll do down the road--hard to say. But he couldn't have gotten his foot in the door without the college degree.

    And btw folks working in the trades are very much subject to replacement as well. If you can get a business up and running in a white area and develop a decent set of neighborly contacts--great, you can probably make a good go of it. But they'll be foreigners brought in to do those things as well.

    The very simple truth is if the US labor market is open to the world ... then everyone is subject to replacement.

    The US is awesome because of the overall capabilities, character and culture of white guys working in a resource rich environment. (I.e. its a racial/cultural group project.) But there is virtually no *individual* for whom an adequate labor substitute is not available out there somewhere in the world.

    The US is awesome because of the overall capabilities, character and culture of white guys working in a resource rich environment. (I.e. its a racial/cultural group project.)

    In context, I understand why you wrote “racial/cultural” project. What is the significance of the “group” qualifier?

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  78. ” Have you watched older cohorts like that go through college and into work? Any idea how they did? Have you written anything about this on your blog?”

    Only one woman who I met while coaching GMAT. She was incredibly successful in work, and went through 45 rounds of interviews to get one of three spokesperson positions for the head of a major high tech firm (you’d have heard of). Hell of a writer. But she needed to operate in a domain specific area. Couldn’t get above mid-500s.

    I also know of one girl who got a 12 on her SAT essay and thus a 600 on the writing test, 500 on reading, 420 on math, 4 on the APUSH, 3 on the AP Eng Lang & Lit. She was accepted to the honors program at a major state university and last I heard, had graduated in 4 years. So I’m sure she’s doing well.

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  79. “People acing tests of their first language designed to test learners also results in scholarships being misallocated among already admitted students, and further screws up the curves of these tests.”

    They don’t screw up the curves, because only the scores of the non-native speakers are used to set the curve. They do screw up the percentiles, though.

    In some cases, native speakers are the only reason the test exists. Basically 100% of the Chinese and Korean tests are taken by native speakers. For Spanish it’s more like 50%.

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    • Replies: @keuril

    They don’t screw up the curves, because only the scores of the non-native speakers are used to set the curve. They do screw up the percentiles, though.

     

    Actually they don’t even screw up the percentiles. Separate percentiles are provided for nonnative speakers.

    In some cases, native speakers are the only reason the test exists. Basically 100% of the Chinese and Korean tests are taken by native speakers. For Spanish it’s more like 50%.
     
    I would guess Korean is close to 100% but not Chinese. Chinese is now so widely taught, there is s significant minority of nonnative takers.

    Absolutely nobody is impressed by high scores from native speakers. I think Harvard even states this explicitly in their standardized test FAQ. But when it comes to heritage speakers, a high score can represent a significant achievement. Unfortunately, they are likely to get painted with the same brush as native speakers.
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  80. @education realist
    ". So it looks like 1% of the overall relevant population took the test. Obviously not all schools offer it, etc etc."

    As opposed to entire state senior populations that take the college admissions tests. Can't see why Steve would think there was some sort of selection bias.

    "Competitive high school tests are more interesting than standardized high school tests in terms of identifying tail end talent. "

    Not any more. High school math has become about shoving as much math as possible into students who don't care about anything other than getting an A. I've run into too many kids with a 5 on the BC who can't factor, or don't know why factoring is a needed skill, or don't understand what it is. Kids who don't have the vaguest notion of number theory, or how quadratic zeros relate. Kids won't don't have any idea as to what the difference between a function and an equation is.

    This is a significant weakness of high school math which we can lay at the feet of colleges who originally demanded that calculus be shoved down to the high school level, and Asian immigration, which created a large body of students utterly willing to regurgitate whatever someone else chewed first and stuck in their mouth.

    I'm not saying that the kids in the Olympiad aren't smart, although I"m skeptical that there's more than a couple really smarts and a shit ton of slogs. I'm saying that they are the only smart ones interested enough to go through the moronic hoops demanded of high school math to qualify.


    "My AP calc teacher covered the equivalent of two and a half semesters worth of calc at my college, but in my son’s year-long AP classes they seem to be done with coursework in February and then spend two months practicing for the May exam. I suspect teachers at our high school get some sort of bonus for kids who take the exam and score well, too. "

    That's pretty typical. They shove their way through the coursework then spend months reviewing. Teachers don't get bonuses, but if they don't get good results it ultimately ends their ability to teach AP.

    At some schools, AP teachers are the highest respected, best rooms, etc, and all the other teachers get the losers. But at mixed SES mixed demographic schools like mine, teachers that can work with at risk unmotivated kids are usually equally valued. But AP kids are easier, of course, and if you're a math teacher in particular it means you're only getting kids who had to take four or five years of math first.



    "Glad to see you back here and that comment was a good example of why."

    Thanks, but comments here are getting kind of crazy. (No, I don't mean people bitching about my Asian posts.)

    Thanks, but comments here are getting kind of crazy.

    How so?

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  81. BiffGriff says:

    How do we know there isn’t grade inflation with these tests to account for the increased/wider participation?

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  82. anon says: • Disclaimer

    This is a surprise. Sorry to hear that the system is being continually tweaked to serve the narrative. Although I should be surprised that I am surprised.

    However, the interesting thing is that I had never heard of the competitive math tests. Since this stuff is never static, it sounds like there will be more of it. That is … various competitive/prize exams used to showcase students for ultra competitive colleges.

    AP seems to have trounced its one time competitor, IB. However, it isn’t impossible that there will be competition for AP exams. Sounds like they are getting it at the high end. As early as the late 90′s, private schools were marketing themselves as being superior to the ‘mass market’ AP product. I can remember being told that their students who were interested in taking AP exams had little trouble passing them. As well as some detail about the inherent problems with AP Biology having to do with the lack of a standard 101 curriculum.

    There is a movement in some areas toward a separation of education and certification. Traditionally, a school does both — teaches and certifies its graduates with diplomas and grades. This is a major trend in computer related fields. As a business — testing and certifying is inherently more profitable. No need for expensive facilities, teachers, etc.

    AP is the second iteration for the College Board. They still have their subject matter testing exams. They are less popular and seem to be in the process of being supplanted by AP.

    Universities are effectively giving away their course material with online courses. They now seem to offer a freemium model with something like Coursera. But I don’t really see how a pure, for profit online university can compete. It seems like education is putting itself at risk — but based on how they are handling the AP process, it seems like they have captured the College Board and have no interest in doing more than taking a little larger slice of revenue. However, given the fact that Asians have adopted the product as an ‘unintended consequence’ — so there is never any guarantee that this trend won’t develop in ways that surprise.

    I like the idea of an outsourced undergraduate experience. A campus on an offshore resort with online curriculum and careful curation and organization by the provider. The residential experience is cost effective by offshoring it. The delivery of the curriculum via freeware. And use adjunct PhD surplus to provide the on site coordination of discussion groups, etc.

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  83. anon says: • Disclaimer

    And since all the interest in calculus — there a movement away from calculus — reform, if you will.

    Consider this. https://math.temple.edu/~siagla/articles/Strang2001.pdf

    The idea is not to reduce rigor but to provide more balance.

    Strong has a course on MIT Open Courseware.

    https://ocw.mit.edu/faculty/gilbert-strang/

    I’m in favor of it.

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  84. Jesus, I could have told anybody 25 years ago that AP classes and exams were worthless.

    Also really sad (but entirely predictable) to see minorities chasing the tail end of a fad that’s being exposed.

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  85. Tiny Duck says:
    @Luke Lea
    My daughter took AP American History. It was such a whirlwind of facts I don't think she got the overall picture, particularly since she had never been exposed to much American history in grammar school or junior high.

    How does it feel? Knowing that you will be the grandfather of a Child of Color?

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  86. Jack D says:
    @education realist
    "The purpose of the AP Tests (and more importantly the whole AP system) is not to give colleges an additional data point on who to admit."

    This is correct, although that's the only useful thing APs provide these days.

    "Its purpose (which of course is getting lost like a lot of things – modern America has totally lost sight of the ball in so many different ways and places that it’s not even funny – in fact when we inevitably run out of steam it will all be seen as tragic by future historians) is to give advanced high school students the ability to study college freshman level material while they are still in high school."

    Wrong. This is completely wrong. Not only is this no longer the purpose of AP, but in that original purpose, it has now failed. Math professors constantly say that the math tests are useless, that they don't advise kids to skip entry level math courses even if they got 5s. AP English and APUSH are useful simply as reading and writing indicators but suggest no knowledge baseline.

    The *entire* point of AP for the past 20 years has been to provide a way for majority minority schools to provide a bunch of unqualified kids with good resumes to provide affirmative action cover.

    The unintended consequence of AP has been the Asian immigrant use of it as a grade booster, and the results on college admissions.

    I meant the original purpose and I said that the original purpose has gotten lost so I don’t disagree with you (and I was not “wrong” I was exactly right by your own terms).

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  87. @Bubba

    But a nephew who AP’d out of his entire freshman year at the U. of Illinois immediately flunked out because his sophomore level engineering courses he took as a freshman were so tough relative to how much xBox he was playing without his mom around to nag him into doing his homework.
     
    While he may have been distracted by an xBox, I bet he did not compete with as many Asians at U of Illinois as he did in high school. It was a rude awakening for me and glad I did not use my AP credits in college. The engineering degree I received was well deserved and the competition was fierce.

    ” The engineering degree I received was well deserved and the competition was fierce.”

    In what way is the achievement of a degree a function of competition?

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  88. ganderson says:
    @Corvinus
    "Any idea who pushed the idea of increasing AP classes in those high schools in the first place?"

    Great question. The College Board, with apparent** input from college professors and high school teachers, Mr. Sailor's study from 2009 regarding AP test results would have little bearing today, as several tests, from AP United States History to AP Biology, have been redesigned. Why? The Common Core Standards and marketing. There is an emphasis on skill building, with content serving as the vehicle. The evaluation process for writing consists of rubrics. Back in the "golden days", the content would drive instruction, complete with holistic grading.

    To Mr. Sailor's point that "society’s push to discover more black and Hispanic diamonds in the rough was causing black and Hispanic mean scores to run into diminishing returns, but even that wasn’t as bad as I had expected", there is absolute validity in his claim. Although, he is neglecting to consider there are a number of white kids who also lack the requisite intellectual rigor and/or come from poorer backgrounds who end up taking those advanced classes. They have been pushed by school administrators in response to parental requests that certain courses be offered without "gatekeeping". Administrators have also sold the idea to parents that even if their child struggles, they are more prepared for college given the nature of the course. More districts have been forgoing prerequisites or entrance qualifications in order to boost numbers. Earning college credit in high school especially helps the bottom line of parents by doling less dollars for their sons and daughters in college. The more students who take AP, the more "prestige", the more parents are satisfied.

    The problem is that AP teachers teach to the top, rather than the middle or bottom, tier...as they should. The students and parents generally understand this process, but as a result AP exam scores were lower for some schools compared to in the past. So the College Board, in its infinite wisdom, has made changes within the past five years to "democratize" the courses. The revised curriculum, it was argued, would enable teachers to go more in depth on topics rather than students being responsible for a laundry list of facts. Whether the new tests are equally challenging as the old tests has been vigorously contested within the AP community.

    Not that there is any political machinations here. /sarcasm

    "For one thing, David Coleman, the current head of the College Board, was previously part of the English Language Arts committee of the Common Core. The media often refers to him as an “architect of the Common Core.” So it's not too surprising that he would bring the Common Core philosophy to the College Board, leading to an SAT overhaul." [and overall of the AP courses]

    http://blog.prepscholar.com/is-the-new-sat-2016-sat-aligned-with-common-core

    Hmmm. Change the curriculum. Increase the availability. Make more money. Nah, that's not what is going on here. /sarcasm


    **There were a number of complaints that CB unilaterally made this decision ahead of time, then consulted experts, who offered what they thought was preliminary advice, and [whallah], a number of "course redesigns" occurred, much to the chagrin of veteran AP teachers who believed that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

    Colman’s a blank-slater, too. One that lived his whole like in a high IQ bubble. Naturally, he believes IQ doesn’t exist.

    I used to teach AP US History, and I also was a ‘reader’- 600 of us in a a large room in downtown Louisville reading AP essays 8 hours a day for 10 days. I can testify that there are many kids taking AP exams who never wanted to take either the course, the exam, or both. I saw lots of hand turkeys and essays about how terrible their AP teachers were. My favorite essay of all time began something like:
    “I really don’t know much about the populists, but I can tell you about something I do know a lot about: The Baconater” Gold!

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    • Replies: @Old fogey
    Thanks for "the Baconater" story. Just out of curiosity, how many points did he get for originality?
    , @Corvinus
    "I can testify that there are many kids taking AP exams who never wanted to take either the course, the exam, or both."

    As a person who is also intimately involved in this process, my experiences are markedly different.
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  89. Ivy says:
    @Anonymous

    This kind of reminds me of the anti-Japanese hysteria that peaked around the late 1980s and early 1990s in America, when supposedly the Japanese cheated their way to dominating the US automobile and consumer electronics industries. There was even that novel by Michael Crichton, Rising Sun, that while entertaining, at times read like the Protocols of the Elders of Tokyo…
     
    The Japanese sold product below the cost they charged domestic customers and occasionally at or below cost of manufacture to build market share. They figured they would run domestic competition out, and in consumer electronics they did. In automobiles there were two reasons they failed: first, there was a hard core of people that would only buy a domestic car (but had no second thoughts about a Japanese TV, stereo or camera) and secondly the UAW still had enough power that the Japanese, even in the time of Reagan, staved off tariffs only with a 'voluntary' restriction on numbers. I did computer work for a Toyota dealer in 1984-85 and they were charging way over list for Toyotas because supply was far under demand for desirable models. You couldn't get a new Toyota for sticker price unless it was an oddball like a diesel or a bigger four door sedan with a manual transmission. Toyota dealers were making record profits for two or three years.

    Toyotas have in my mind always been reliable but overpriced cars with overpriced parts.

    Many car dealers succumb to short-term thinking when they have what they perceive to be a hot seller. They would rather book a sale now and take their chances on future sales, based in their variation on the mantra IBG-YBG.

    “We’re keeping those for our best customers.” (Which you aren’t, and we don’t value you, screw you)
    “Some buyers are paying $X over sticker.” (We don’t need to negotiate, at least right now, screw you)
    “We can’t buy your business, we have to earn your business.” (From the dealer douchebag trying to make me feel like the bad guy when I didn’t want to pay 15% more for an identical car available at a competitor, screw you)

    I’ve told dealer reps that overplayed their hand that they are selling commodities, and I can buy many cars in my lifetime from them or from only about a zillion other dealers, or go through a broker, or through their own fleet or internet sales guy, for example. The smarter dealers look to build in longer term relationships, to reduce the acquisition cost, to try to get repeat business and family business, and to make it somewhat more likely that their service department will see some revenue. It isn’t rocket science.

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  90. Lot says:
    @Yan Shen
    Let's say that the Spelling Bee is a measure of verbal aptitude or the likes.

    I seem to recall for recent years for the USAMO that a little over 60% of the qualifiers were East Asian. Obviously the USAMO is a measure of quantitative aptitude.

    Here's another assertion that may or may not be true. It seems to me that the spelling bee is also more amenable to prep no, with what the memorizing different word roots and stems and the likes?

    Meme articulated by Lion of the Blogosphere. High verbal ability is conducive to value transference while high mathematical ability is conducive to value creation. It would be interesting to compare the future life outcomes of say top whatever spelling bee competitors vs usamo qualifiers!

    How does that 60% compare with the expected Asian share of the US population with math ability in the 99.9 percentile?

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  91. Law schools grade on curve: people flunk.
    I graduated magna cum laude from a solid school. That involves beating fierce competition. The only competition involved in completing an engineering degree is between the student and the difficulty of the material.

    But maybe Bubba’s engineering school operates like a law school in this repect…?

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  92. Lot says:
    @res
    Do you recall why they tested you at 12? That sounds like the kind of thing an IQ study (like the SMPY or Duke TIP) would do. I wonder if taking it cold was intentionally part of the protocol.

    I don’t remember why I took the PSAT all three years of middle school. It was free and the school selected about 10 students to take it. We took a lot of standardized tests, so it did not seem out of the ordinary. The most interesting test was when a psychologist visited the school and gave a few of us one on one oral IQ tests. I am not sure which one, but it included forward and backward digit span questions.

    I did not participate in the study you mentioned even though it included my age cohort and I qualified. This was in a small town not near any major metropolitan areas.

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  93. @PhysicistDave
    Steve wrote:

    In general, I’m pretty bullish on AP tests, and feel they should be given more weight in college admissions. They have advantages over high school grades (they’re nationally consistent) and advantages over SAT/ACT tests (if kids are going to prep endlessly for a test, they might as well learn something in the process).
     
    Unfortunately, the way the College Board makes sure the scoring is "nationally consistent" is the source of a lot of the problems with the AP system.

    My kids have taken a number of AP tests over the last few years, and, since we are homeschooling, I was much more involved in the prep process than most parents.

    The most ludicrous aspect of the APs is the supposed "essay questions" on non-STEM tests. To ensure national consistency, the College Board reportedly has a fixed list of points you are supposed to mention in the essay. Bizarrely, no matter how brilliant your essay, you get zero credit for anything you say that is not on that fixed list of approved items. Supposedly, anything false you say that is not on that list of approved items will also not be held against you (I'm not clear if you get demerits for saying the opposite of something on the list).

    Essentially, your AP teacher finds out the key approved items, you regurgitate them, and nothing else matters.

    Maybe some colleges actually work that way; fortunately, I never attended any of them.

    But the real problem is the STEM tests. Because the College Board guarantees not to include anything not on the list of announced topics, they cannot have a high ceiling that rewards those students who have gone above and beyond the base level (for example, they test for the integral form but not the differential form of Gauss's law, Ampere's law, and Faraday's law on Physics C Electricity and Magnetism).

    Yet, they need some way of spreading out the students' scores. So, what they do is have problems that just can't be solved in the time allotted unless you have been especially trained to rapidly solve the sort of rather silly problems that the College Board is known to put on the STEM AP tests.

    I.e., although I have a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford, am co-inventor on a number of patents, etc., I myself would be hard-pressed to earn a 5 on the AP Physics C tests unless I went to a good deal of trouble to prep. The AP Physics tests just do not have much at all to do with real physics (or engineering).

    Similarly, I have seen a lot of university math professors complaining about AP Calculus: their students have been trained like parrots to do the tricks required to get a 5 on AP Calculus without actually understanding what is going on. (This is basically what Jaime Escalante famously figured out, and why his students all made similar errors -- they had been trained in the same tricks to get the answers.)

    Schools like Caltech, my own alma mater, have their own math placement exams that are much better than the AP, but of course Caltech does not have to worry about rapidly scoring hundreds of thousands of tests while guaranteeing national consistency. (I found Caltech's Calculus 1 test interesting but not too hard. I found the test to quiz out of Calculus 2 dumbfounding, though I gave it my best shot, anyway. Caltech rightly said that I could skip Calculus 1 but needed to take Calculus 2.)

    In case anyone wonders if I am just voicing "sour grapes," my kids did well enough on the APs to get into a bunch of UCs, including, fortunately, UCLA School of Engineering (which is much more selective than UCLA as a whole).

    I myself am old enough that APs were not an issue (our school had zero AP classes back then): I took the AP US History test as a lark to see what I could do.

    I got a 4, despite the fact that I really BSed my way through the entire test.

    More evidence, I am afraid, that on the AP tests, being test-wise is much more important than actual knowledge.

    Dave Miller in Sacramento

    (This is basically what Jaime Escalante famously figured out, and why his students all made similar errors — they had been trained in the same tricks to get the answers.)

    The Washington Post’s Jay Mathews found that Jaime Escalante’s students cheated.

    At Garfield, it took me five years to get to the truth of that one incident. Ten students agreed to sign waivers so the College Board could show me their exam papers. The calculus test was a distant memory, their lives were going well and I think they assumed that since their old teacher blessed my book project, I would reveal nothing that put them in a bad light. I thought my inspection of the exams would clear them.

    Instead, I found that nine of the 10 had made identical silly mistakes on free-response question number 6. That could only mean at least eight had copied from the same source, perhaps the ninth person. I got two of them to admit that in a moment of panic near the end of the exam, somebody had passed around a piece of paper with that flawed solution.

    Yet they knew their stuff, and would have done no worse if they hadn’t cheated. The counselor who proctored the exam apparently missed the note-passing. When the nine students whom I knew had cheated, plus three more, retook the exam in August — with little time to review and two proctors watching their every move — they once again did very well, mostly 4s and 5s on the 5-point exam. The answer to the important question was obvious: They learned a lot.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/13/AR2009091302414.html?hpid=sec-education

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  94. @Astorian
    I graduated from high school in 1979. Back then, I earned 24 credits at an Ivy League school by doing well on the Latin, Biology, European History and American History Advanced Placement exams. That was a dang good investment. At that time, the best colleges seemed eager to give away free credits.

    Today I am a high school teacher, and the benefits of AP testing have declined drastically. Fewer and fewer schools give credit for high scores on the AP exams. Those of my AP Macroeconomics students who scored 4 or 5 on the AP exams last year will get no college credit for it. If they major in Business, they will probably have to take Macroeconomics again.

    Perhaps now that tuition is astronomical, colleges are less inclined to give anything away for free.

    Just speaking for public colleges, the acceptance of AP scores for credit and placement varies from state to state, college to college, and sometimes from department to department. Starting with the 2016-2017 academic year, the state of Illinois passed a law that all state institutions had to award credit for AP scores of three and above. Among other things, there had been a problem with kids from Illinois going to out-of-state colleges with much friendlier AP credit policies.

    Rhodes Scholar Myron Rolle chose to play football at Florida State University over Notre Dame and Michigan because FSU awarded credit for all of the AP exams he passed. He earned his bachelor’s degree in two and a half years. He just earned his MD from FSU’s medical school and is doing a residency in neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital.

    AP Credit Policy Search Engine to find colleges and universities that award credit for AP scores:

    https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/creditandplacement/search-credit-policies

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  95. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @dearieme
    "The Japanese sold product ... occasionally at or below cost of manufacture to build market share. " .....
    "a Toyota dealer in 1984-85 and they were charging way over list"

    So the Japanese both overcharged and undercharged. Subtle blighters these orientals.

    Silly goose, that’s like asking if Jews are capitalists or communists. (To use an old “canard” as an example.)

    They undercharged at one time so they could overcharge later, in essence. They figured-correctly, in the case of electronics-that once RCA, GE, Motorola and the rest were out of consumertronics they were not getting back in. They were right.

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  96. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Jack D
    Honda was even worse in terms of the mismatch between supply and demand. In those days the Honda dealers wouldn't even let you test drive a car. In part this was due to "voluntary" restrictions on imports but even after they built a US factory Hondas rarely pile up on the dealer lots the way American cars do. US automakers have excess capacity that they use to crank out the sales in good years and then in bad years they close down factories. Honda limits their capacity so that they never have factories that sit idle in bad years.

    As far as "overpriced" , there's no doubt that you'll pay more for a comparable Toyota than say a Dodge/Chrysler based on actual out the door pricing after discounts, manuf. cash back, etc. Market prices reflect the judgment of the market as to value. Sure a Camry would cost you more than a Dodge up front but would it cost you more after 10 years of ownership? Back in the "Malaise Era" it would have been even worse - the 10 year old Toyota would still have a lot of life in it (especially in a place where they don't salt the roads such as California which was their 1st big market) while the 10 year old K-Car would be falling to pieces - the tranny would have blown, etc. Sometimes not in 10 years but soon after the warranty ran out. There are literally millions of stories from that time that involve some tale of woe involving an American car and end with " and that's why I'll never buy a [Ford, Chrysler, Chevy, etc.] again. The Japanese did not win customers so much as the Big 3 lost them.

    Many 70s and 80s American cars were in fact royal shitboxes, but the K-cars-the original Aries and Reliant K-were generally very durable reliable cars, if not overpowered, and not particularly refined.

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  97. Old fogey says:
    @Buzz Mohawk
    As long as high schools get extra ranking points just for having AP classes -- regardless of results -- their administrators will push AP on kids who can't hack it.

    Also, as long as extra federal dollars are involved, there will be extra effort to keep those dollars coming.

    Anecdotally, the word is that nearby schools in vibrant districts are urging any and all students, regardless of ability, to take AP classes. Principals are constantly reminding teachers to get more kids to sign up.

    Most of those kids get a score of 1 on the exam, which is failing and essentially zero.

    Teachers should not be encouraged to sign up students they deem not to be good candidates for an AP class. Why give youngsters who are already struggling an additional opportunity to fail? How does that help them?

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  98. Old fogey says:
    @athEIst
    Sorta interesting, but the scores were boring. The scores are boring because they're always the same. Caucasian, Asians up about an eighth 0f a s,d., Hispanics down a half of a s.d., and Blacks down a full s.d. This never changes, nor will.

    You are correct in your cynicism, of course.

    What I can not understand is the persistent interest in keeping such records. When a child attends school he should be considered simply a student, not a black student, or a white student, or an Asian student, etc.

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  99. @Lot
    Too bad for us with very high verbal there is/was nothing like this. I got a 74 on the PSAT-V when I was 12 taking it completely cold (no prep, no notice I'd be taking it at all until they grabbed me from class). By the time I took the real thing and then the SAT, an 80/800 was a sure thing. I would have loved some contests like USAMO.

    I suppose I could have taken the GRE.
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  100. Old fogey says:
    @Steve Sailer
    My older son went to a pretty good private high school which had a lot of AP courses and my younger son went to a really good private high school that refused to call courses AP because one of the benefits of teaching at that high school is you get to make up your own curriculum. They both took a lot of AP tests and both did well.

    One thing to keep in mind is that you don't have to take a course in the subject to take the AP test. For example, both boys passed AP Comparative Government even though there schools didn't offer a course in it. I think my wife called up the local super-school, Harvard-Westlake (e.g., Charlie Munger, the brains behind Warren Buffett, is on the Board of Trustees), and of course they were administering pretty much every AP test ever invented. And, perhaps more strikingly, they were very gracious and accommodating to a student at a different school dropping by to take the Comparative Government test. (In my limited experience with Harvard-Westlake in recent years, asking 3 or 4 favors of them, all the people who work there have been very nice toward outsiders. My impression is that most people are too intimidated to ask favors of them.

    But it's also that H-W, as SoCal's top school, hires top people: if you go back 15 years, the back-of-the-book section of the Atlantic Monthly at its peak was run by people with connections to H-W, like Benjamin Schwarz and Caitlin Flanagan. I frequently give Matthew Weiner, the creator of "Mad Men," a hard time about his not wholly objective perceptions of his years at Harvard-Westlake as a student and a teacher, but ... still, he's the creator of "Mad Men."

    Good information, Steve. I bet very few “ordinary” high schools ever tell their students that they can study on their own and take a test without sitting through an AP course in the subject.

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    It's apparently considered top secret, but both my sons did it for one or two tests.

    Another aspect is that a lot of students take World History in 9th grade before they are thinking about AP tests. But you can take the World History AP test after you take European History in, what, 11th grade? Just memorize Chinese dynasties and few more basic facts and you can scrape by with about a week's hard study right before the test.
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  101. Old fogey says:
    @Peter Akuleyev

    One thing that is completely ignored is how many Chinese, Koreans, and Spanish speakers get “credit” for taking tests designed for language learners in their native languages. Pisses me off.
     
    So what? You don't get that much credit for doing well on language AP tests. In a world of unfairness it does seem odd that this particular issue pisses you off. Annoying, maybe, but not really anger worthy.

    In the ancient times when I was in school there were no students in my high school who were allowed to take a foreign-language class who already knew the language. (My high school, by the way, offered classes in Latin, German, French, and Italian – no Spanish.)

    One young man signed up for an introductory German class in my college, but he did not last long because the teacher immediately identified him as a native German-speaker, even though he had no accent at all (his parents had immigrated to the U.S. before he was born). He was placed directly in a graduate-level class in German instead. The emphasis was on learning, not points.

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  102. Old fogey says:
    @ganderson
    Colman's a blank-slater, too. One that lived his whole like in a high IQ bubble. Naturally, he believes IQ doesn't exist.

    I used to teach AP US History, and I also was a 'reader'- 600 of us in a a large room in downtown Louisville reading AP essays 8 hours a day for 10 days. I can testify that there are many kids taking AP exams who never wanted to take either the course, the exam, or both. I saw lots of hand turkeys and essays about how terrible their AP teachers were. My favorite essay of all time began something like:
    "I really don't know much about the populists, but I can tell you about something I do know a lot about: The Baconater" Gold!

    Thanks for “the Baconater” story. Just out of curiosity, how many points did he get for originality?

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    • Replies: @Ganderson
    I wanted to give him (I assumed from the style and the penmanship that it was a boy) a nine (1-9 scale), but the rubric mandated a 0 :( All the others at the table got a chuckle, though. My other favorite was a girl (again, my assumption) who wrote that the farmers of the late 19th century hated railroad expansion because the trains went right through their houses....
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  103. @Old fogey
    Good information, Steve. I bet very few "ordinary" high schools ever tell their students that they can study on their own and take a test without sitting through an AP course in the subject.

    It’s apparently considered top secret, but both my sons did it for one or two tests.

    Another aspect is that a lot of students take World History in 9th grade before they are thinking about AP tests. But you can take the World History AP test after you take European History in, what, 11th grade? Just memorize Chinese dynasties and few more basic facts and you can scrape by with about a week’s hard study right before the test.

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    • Replies: @Corvinus
    "Just memorize Chinese dynasties and few more basic facts and you can scrape by with about a week’s hard study right before the test."

    That's not even remotely accurate. For 2017 in World History:

    8.5% of students earned a 5
    20.1% of students earned a 4
    27% of students earned a 3
    29.5% of students earned a 2
    14.9% of students earned 1
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  104. keuril says:
    @education realist
    "You don’t get that much credit for doing well on language AP tests. "

    Many universities require three subject tests, and don't care what they're in, just looking for excellent scores in as many as possible. The subject and AP language tests are normed for non-natives, meaning it's a simple matter for a native to get a high score.

    Meanwhile, whites and blacks who study language are going to get low scores, while the scores in *their* tests--US History, English Lit--are very hard to get high scores in.

    The Subject Math 2c test is a joke. It's a great test, but there are calculator programs that enable kids to literally just select the type of question, punch in the numbers, and get the answer. Asian kids get the answers. White kids generally won't, or don't know about it. I've talked to several white kids at private schools who told me they just won't do it. They want to know how well they'll do without the programs.

    This is why UC dropped Subject tests. They wanted to commit affirmative action and liked the fact that the Spanish test boosted their ability to get Hispanic kids, but they didn't like being forced to take so many Asian kids.

    At this point, it's moot, though. The numbers suggest white kids are starting to avoid the UCs, just as they're avoiding the top NY high schools. Saul Geiser has hinted at this.

    Many universities require three subject tests

    If I recall correctly, only Georgetown still requires three Subject Tests. The top Ivies, Stanford, and a shrinking handful of other highly selective national universities only require two. At this point, I don’t think any liberal arts colleges still require them. There might be a holdout or two, but Williams and Amherst have done away with them.

    The move away from Subject Tests started when UC eliminated the requirement, for the reasons you noted. Still, the Subject Test enjoys a level of legitimacy in the admissions process that AP tests don’t. To begin with, it is possible to list Subject Tests as an application requirement, but I’ve never heard of a US school requiring AP tests (a small number of overseas schools, such as Cambridge, require APs from US applicants). Subject Tests can be taken throughout the year, and the schools that require them generally require you to send in your score via the College Board (Chicago is an exception in allowing self reporting), whereas AP scores are simply self reported on the Common App. Lastly, Subject Tests are famously part of the formula used by the Ivy League sports teams to calculate the Academic Index for each athlete.

    At selective schools, Subject Tests are definitely a way to distinguish oneself more than SAT reasoning or ACT. The type of test definitely matters—nobody is impressed by native speakers getting an 800 in their language, and the Math II has a huge number of 800s so Asians in particular will not stand out much there. But if you’re Asian and get an 800 in English Lit, it will be noticed.

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  105. keuril says:
    @education realist
    "People acing tests of their first language designed to test learners also results in scholarships being misallocated among already admitted students, and further screws up the curves of these tests."

    They don't screw up the curves, because only the scores of the non-native speakers are used to set the curve. They do screw up the percentiles, though.

    In some cases, native speakers are the only reason the test exists. Basically 100% of the Chinese and Korean tests are taken by native speakers. For Spanish it's more like 50%.

    They don’t screw up the curves, because only the scores of the non-native speakers are used to set the curve. They do screw up the percentiles, though.

    Actually they don’t even screw up the percentiles. Separate percentiles are provided for nonnative speakers.

    In some cases, native speakers are the only reason the test exists. Basically 100% of the Chinese and Korean tests are taken by native speakers. For Spanish it’s more like 50%.

    I would guess Korean is close to 100% but not Chinese. Chinese is now so widely taught, there is s significant minority of nonnative takers.

    Absolutely nobody is impressed by high scores from native speakers. I think Harvard even states this explicitly in their standardized test FAQ. But when it comes to heritage speakers, a high score can represent a significant achievement. Unfortunately, they are likely to get painted with the same brush as native speakers.

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  106. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @DFH
    Cambridge does actually have a comparable exam that sixth-formers (High School in yank) need to take to get in.
    They are really, really hard. I can't imagine that there's a comparably difficult exam for people of that age anywhere in the world.
    Also (cruelly) they give offers to far more people than they have places for and then let STEP weed out the ones they want.

    https://www.maths.cam.ac.uk/undergrad/admissions/step

    These are the past STEP papers in maths for entry to Cambridge:

    http://www.admissionstestingservice.org/for-test-takers/step/preparing-for-step/

    This is a question from paper 2, 1998 (A levels are the standard exams that school students at this age take):
    The diagnostic test AL has a probability 0.9 of giving a positive result when applied to a
    person suffering from the rare disease mathematitis. It also has a probability 1/11 of giving a
    false positive result when applied to a non-sufferer. It is known that only 1% of the population
    suffer from the disease. Given that the test AL is positive when applied to Frankie, who is
    chosen at random from the population, what is the probability that Frankie is a sufferer?

    In an attempt to identify sufferers more accurately, a second diagnostic test STEP is given
    to those for whom the test AL gave a positive result. The probablility of STEP giving a
    positive result on a sufferer is 0.9, and the probability that it gives a false positive result on a
    non-sufferer is p. Half of those for whom AL was positive and on whom STEP then also gives
    a positive result are sufferers. Find p.

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    • Replies: @res
    That is a good and entertaining question with valuable real world analogs, but don't they need to explicitly state that STEP and AL results are statistically independent to make it solvable? (not just a nitpick, this is a real problem with multiple rounds of diagnostic tests, and I am pretty sure the analogous math test results are not independent. I suppose it is possible they are implicitly assuming the numbers they give for STEP apply to those already detected by AL, but I think that needs to be made explicit)

    The analogy is fun. Any thoughts on how reflective the numbers they chose are of reality?
    If I did the math correctly the first answer is 99/189 or just over 50% and the second answer is 99%.

    The first answer makes the important point (also highly relevant for diagnostic tests of low prevalence medical conditions) that AL is not that good at creating a cohort largely suffering from mathematitis (i.e. what your admissions officers want). But the second answer makes the point that the second test (STEP) has a terrible false positive result and actually decreases discriminatory value over AL by itself (and almost doubles the number of false negatives). That seems rather the opposite of reality (one would hope anyway).

    Did I make a mistake? Given how many mistakes I found double checking that seems more likely than I would hope.

    P.S. It is easy to criticize the A levels for lack of discriminatory power concerning high end math talent, but even so I think they are valuable for reducing the population you need to give the STEP test given the time consuming nature of its grading. Or does Cambridge let just anyone take the STEP? I suppose self selection might be good enough and grading people who obviously don't belong is probably pretty easy.
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  107. @Yan Shen
    I'm not a huge fan of the AP tests either, but let me maybe push back a little bit against your comments on the STEM subjects.

    But the real problem is the STEM tests. Because the College Board guarantees not to include anything not on the list of announced topics, they cannot have a high ceiling that rewards those students who have gone above and beyond the base level (for example, they test for the integral form but not the differential form of Gauss’s law, Ampere’s law, and Faraday’s law on Physics C Electricity and Magnetism).

    Yet, they need some way of spreading out the students’ scores. So, what they do is have problems that just can’t be solved in the time allotted unless you have been especially trained to rapidly solve the sort of rather silly problems that the College Board is known to put on the STEM AP tests
     
    Well I mean isn't it sort of expected on most content based tests that the content only covers the list of announced topics? Imagine if you were taking a finals for some class in college and you were tested on something that you weren't expecting to be tested on. Wouldn't make much sense right? Hence my point about the AP exams being less inherently g-loaded/more amenable to prep compared to a pure cognitive test. Your complaint about the physics C AP exam seems to be that maybe it's not "hard" enough, which I guess might be fair? >.<

    I don't recall the AP Calc exam that I took back in the day containing "gimmicky" problems favoring those who knew special tricks. They were just basic calculus questions. I think more in general for entry level math problems, you can learn to solve certain problem types perhaps without really possessing a deep understanding of the underlying math, but I don't see that as necessarily a problem specific to the AP STEM exams, i.e. you're just as likely to do that when taking intro calculus at college, etc.

    Anyway, a bit surprised that you didn't point out that the AP exams have a pretty low ceiling given that that you can miss a decent number of questions and still get a 5. To me, that's probably the biggest drawback, along with some of the fluffier subjects like History, Geography, etc.

    Let's look at AMC/AIME scores or the likes, I say!

    Yan Shen wrote to me:

    Well I mean isn’t it sort of expected on most content based tests that the content only covers the list of announced topics? Imagine if you were taking a finals for some class in college and you were tested on something that you weren’t expecting to be tested on. Wouldn’t make much sense right?

    Well… being tested on something not covered in class was what we expected at Caltech!

    The problem is that the College Board rigidly defines the content of the AP physics classes, and the content is just stupid — this is not how you learn physics. And multiple-choice tests? With too little time to work out the answers in a normal way so that you need to use skills of being “test-wise” instead of actual knowledge of physics? No, I have never seen that sort of thing in any legitimate university environment.

    Again, I myself do well at this sort of thing: it does a good job of measuring the skills of those of us who are super-test-wise. But, it is not a good way of testing for physics, and I know of no legitimate college physics program that tests in this way.

    The AP tests are a bad joke that do happen to benefit super-test-wise guys like me.

    Yan Shen also wrote:

    Your complaint about the physics C AP exam seems to be that maybe it’s not “hard” enough, which I guess might be fair?

    No. I just do not think it is a physics test. I think it is a test of how well you have been prepped for this particular remarkably silly test, not how well you know physics (or, in some cases like me, how clever you are at outsmarting the test makers).

    Yan Shen also wrote:

    I don’t recall the AP Calc exam that I took back in the day containing “gimmicky” problems favoring those who knew special tricks. They were just basic calculus questions.

    When you took it, did they have the bizarrely silly questions with the vector field pictures? I taught my kids how to solve those stupid problems, but, in all my years of using calculus in theoretical physics, engineering, and pure math, I have never had to deal with problems like that.

    Pure idiocy.

    The College Board is turning America into China back in the days of the pointless exams on the Chinese classics that served no purpose.

    (Yes, I know: America is now so corrupt that returning to the level of corruption of late Imperial China might actually be an improvement!)

    Dave

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    • Replies: @res

    Well… being tested on something not covered in class was what we expected at Caltech!
     
    Could you elaborate on that? I am guessing you mean moderately straightforward (for a Caltech student) extensions to things that were covered in class. Or do you have something else in mind? And does "class" mean just classroom time or include all of the reading?
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  108. @Lot
    Part of being test wise on multiple choice tests is ruling out answers that engage in logical fallacy. You can do better than random guessing on something you know absolutely nothing about.

    I loved my formal logic class in freshman year of college, I wish I could have taken it in middle school.

    Lot wrote to me:

    Part of being test wise on multiple choice tests is ruling out answers that engage in logical fallacy

    .Well… that’s not what I did. I basically pretended that I was the test creator trying to fake out the test-taker. Always worked well for me.

    I never understood why most people cannot do the same. Maybe I just happen to be amused by pretending that I am the one making up the snarky tests.

    Dave

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  109. @Corvinus
    "More evidence, I am afraid, that on the AP tests, being test-wise is much more important than actual knowledge."

    "Of course, those of us who are really “test-wise” — good at seeing through the “gotcha” questions, etc. — can do better than we deserve on almost any test. I was one of those kids, and perhaps Steve’s sons are also."

    That is not how the current AP tests operate. Here is a sample of the type of multiple choice questions they ask for the exam on American History. Note the following does NOT come an actual test from the college board, but it is representative of the questions they pose. Like Disney, the College Board have lawyers who protect their brand like wild dogs who just killed their prey. I prefer not to engage in copyright infringement.

    FDR, “Quarantine Speech”, 1937
    "The peace-loving nations must make a concerted effort in opposition to those
    violations of treaties and those ignoring of humane instincts which today are creating a state of international anarchy and instability from which there is no escape through mere isolation or neutrality. Those who cherish their freedom and recognize and respect the equal right of their neighbors to be free and live in peace, must work together for the triumph of law and moral principles in order that peace, justice and confidence may prevail in the world. There must be a return to a belief in the pledged word, in the value of a signed treaty. There must be recognition of the fact that national morality is as vital as private morality."

    The ideas expressed in the excerpt differed from 1920’s foreign policy in which of the following?
    a. The avoidance of political entanglements in Europe and Asia.
    b. The moral imperative to combat aggression on a global scale.
    c. The promotion of American business interests in Latin America.
    d. The development of military alliances with several nations.

    Which of the following events during FDR’s tenure in the 1930’s was a departure from that 1920’s foreign policy?
    a. Discussing war goals with key allies.
    b. Retooling factories for war materials.
    c. Limiting the number of warships built.
    d. Refusing to invoke the Neutrality Acts.

    FDR’s “Quarantine Speech” resulted in:
    a. a rebuke by Congress in response to its subdued tone.
    b. the public vehemently opposing its assertive rhetoric.
    c. moral arguments against opposing Germany and Japan.
    d. economic pressure and threats of force against aggressors.

    Corvinus,

    As you say, these are not questions from the actual AP tests. But, perhaps it does illustrate my point.

    Take the first question you quote:

    The ideas expressed in the excerpt differed from 1920’s foreign policy in which of the following?
    a. The avoidance of political entanglements in Europe and Asia.
    b. The moral imperative to combat aggression on a global scale.
    c. The promotion of American business interests in Latin America.
    d. The development of military alliances with several nations.

    None of those options is actually presented in the quote from FDR. Now, of course, knowing how test-makers think, I can guess that (b) is probably the answer they want, although (d) is almost as good (or bad). Knowing the additional fact that FDR did not formally form an alliance with Britain until the Newfoundland meeting with Churchill in August 1941, and knowing that the test creators (probably) know this also, I am willing to rule out answer (d), but you cannot tell that from the quoted passage.

    But, let’s be honest: the quote from FDR was actually just political boilerplate, intentionally bland and ambiguous, which of course well-served his domestic political needs at the time (in 1937, the country was still overwhelmingly isolationist): FDR certainly was not going to baldly announce to the American people in 1937 that his plan was for the USA to “combat aggression on a global scale.” The test question is anachronistic and politically naive.

    You or I or any decent student could write a reasonable essay expanding on that political reality.

    But, no, instead we have to choose among four answers, every one of which misses the actual point of why FDR said what he said.

    Why doesn’t it occur to most people that those who actually understand a lot about history (or physics or chemistry or economics or biology or…) are not writing tests for the College Board? Obviously, such people have better things to do!

    Dave

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    • Replies: @Corvinus
    "None of those options is actually presented in the quote from FDR."

    Exactly. The students are to take his quote in context, think about its meaning, and then relate it back to information they learned in class. B is the correct answer.

    "Knowing the additional fact that FDR did not formally form an alliance with Britain until the Newfoundland meeting with Churchill in August 1941, and knowing that the test creators (probably) know this also, I am willing to rule out answer (d), but you cannot tell that from the quoted passage."

    You have the benefit of hindsight and understanding historical phenomenon. High school students, however, are learning to make those connections.

    "But, let’s be honest: the quote from FDR was actually just political boilerplate, intentionally bland and ambiguous..."

    No. His speech was a "trial balloon", intended to gauge the American citizen interest in this matter. FDR intended to influence Great Britain and France to reduce the spread of violence by Germany and Japan. He was of the mindset that because nations are dependent upon one another, they could not turn a "blind eye" to clear violations of republican principles. Otherwise, he concluded, their "hand in the sand approach" would ultimately impact their own political and economic stability.

    "FDR certainly was not going to baldly announce to the American people in 1937 that his plan was for the USA to “combat aggression on a global scale.”

    He certainly made the implication, and the American people responded with a resounding "No". However, with the Fall of Poland in 1939 and the Fall of France in 1940, his words were prescient.

    "The test question is anachronistic and politically naive."

    The purpose of the exam are for students to apply their knowledge of history, NOT to suit your preferred political narrative. You are reading WAY too much into the question.

    "You or I or any decent student could write a reasonable essay expanding on that political reality."

    Indeed. There are short answer, long answer, and document based questions that would enable students to dig deeper into that political reality. However, the purpose of the multiple choice questions are to test the application of several skills--main idea, cause-effect, inference--in the setting of American history.

    "But, no, instead we have to choose among four answers, every one of which misses the actual point of why FDR said what he said."

    The question pertains to the skill of comparison. It's purpose is for the students to understand that 1920's American commitment to isolationism was being challenged by European aggression in the 1930's. FDR made a speech stating that America ought to take on that challenge, only to be heavily rebuked by the his fellow citizens.

    "Why doesn’t it occur to most people that those who actually understand a lot about history (or physics or chemistry or economics or biology or…) are not writing tests for the College Board?"

    You are in serious error here. I suggest you go to their website and learn more about their testing process, as you displaying ignorance. Not your fault, mind you.
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  110. Corvinus says:
    @PhysicistDave
    Corvinus,

    As you say, these are not questions from the actual AP tests. But, perhaps it does illustrate my point.

    Take the first question you quote:

    The ideas expressed in the excerpt differed from 1920’s foreign policy in which of the following?
    a. The avoidance of political entanglements in Europe and Asia.
    b. The moral imperative to combat aggression on a global scale.
    c. The promotion of American business interests in Latin America.
    d. The development of military alliances with several nations.
     
    None of those options is actually presented in the quote from FDR. Now, of course, knowing how test-makers think, I can guess that (b) is probably the answer they want, although (d) is almost as good (or bad). Knowing the additional fact that FDR did not formally form an alliance with Britain until the Newfoundland meeting with Churchill in August 1941, and knowing that the test creators (probably) know this also, I am willing to rule out answer (d), but you cannot tell that from the quoted passage.

    But, let's be honest: the quote from FDR was actually just political boilerplate, intentionally bland and ambiguous, which of course well-served his domestic political needs at the time (in 1937, the country was still overwhelmingly isolationist): FDR certainly was not going to baldly announce to the American people in 1937 that his plan was for the USA to "combat aggression on a global scale." The test question is anachronistic and politically naive.

    You or I or any decent student could write a reasonable essay expanding on that political reality.

    But, no, instead we have to choose among four answers, every one of which misses the actual point of why FDR said what he said.

    Why doesn't it occur to most people that those who actually understand a lot about history (or physics or chemistry or economics or biology or...) are not writing tests for the College Board? Obviously, such people have better things to do!

    Dave

    “None of those options is actually presented in the quote from FDR.”

    Exactly. The students are to take his quote in context, think about its meaning, and then relate it back to information they learned in class. B is the correct answer.

    “Knowing the additional fact that FDR did not formally form an alliance with Britain until the Newfoundland meeting with Churchill in August 1941, and knowing that the test creators (probably) know this also, I am willing to rule out answer (d), but you cannot tell that from the quoted passage.”

    You have the benefit of hindsight and understanding historical phenomenon. High school students, however, are learning to make those connections.

    “But, let’s be honest: the quote from FDR was actually just political boilerplate, intentionally bland and ambiguous…”

    No. His speech was a “trial balloon”, intended to gauge the American citizen interest in this matter. FDR intended to influence Great Britain and France to reduce the spread of violence by Germany and Japan. He was of the mindset that because nations are dependent upon one another, they could not turn a “blind eye” to clear violations of republican principles. Otherwise, he concluded, their “hand in the sand approach” would ultimately impact their own political and economic stability.

    “FDR certainly was not going to baldly announce to the American people in 1937 that his plan was for the USA to “combat aggression on a global scale.”

    He certainly made the implication, and the American people responded with a resounding “No”. However, with the Fall of Poland in 1939 and the Fall of France in 1940, his words were prescient.

    “The test question is anachronistic and politically naive.”

    The purpose of the exam are for students to apply their knowledge of history, NOT to suit your preferred political narrative. You are reading WAY too much into the question.

    “You or I or any decent student could write a reasonable essay expanding on that political reality.”

    Indeed. There are short answer, long answer, and document based questions that would enable students to dig deeper into that political reality. However, the purpose of the multiple choice questions are to test the application of several skills–main idea, cause-effect, inference–in the setting of American history.

    “But, no, instead we have to choose among four answers, every one of which misses the actual point of why FDR said what he said.”

    The question pertains to the skill of comparison. It’s purpose is for the students to understand that 1920′s American commitment to isolationism was being challenged by European aggression in the 1930′s. FDR made a speech stating that America ought to take on that challenge, only to be heavily rebuked by the his fellow citizens.

    “Why doesn’t it occur to most people that those who actually understand a lot about history (or physics or chemistry or economics or biology or…) are not writing tests for the College Board?”

    You are in serious error here. I suggest you go to their website and learn more about their testing process, as you displaying ignorance. Not your fault, mind you.

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    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    Corvinus wrote to me:

    Exactly. The students are to take his quote in context, think about its meaning, and then relate it back to information they learned in class. B is the correct answer.
     
    See... just as I predicted. Which is how I got a 4 on APUSH by BSing my way through the entire test without doing any prepping at all.

    Corvinus also wrote:


    No. His speech was a “trial balloon”, intended to gauge the American citizen interest in this matter. FDR intended to influence Great Britain and France to reduce the spread of violence by Germany and Japan. He was of the mindset that because nations are dependent upon one another, they could not turn a “blind eye” to clear violations of republican principles. Otherwise, he concluded, their “hand in the sand approach” would ultimately impact their own political and economic stability.
     
    Indeed: you and I of course agree that that was what FDR was up to.

    Corvinus also wrote:


    He certainly made the implication, and the American people responded with a resounding “No”.
     
    Did they? Certainly the intelligent ones saw through his scheming. But is there any evidence that the so-called "quarantine speech" met with massive public opposition? I do not recall that.

    Corvinus also wrote:


    However, with the Fall of Poland in 1939 and the Fall of France in 1940, his words were prescient.
     
    Well... by refusing to arrange for some reasonable solution to the Danzig problem, the Poles recklessly gave Hitler the excuse he needed to destroy their country. And, then, Britain and France, supposedly to protect the heroic (foolish) Poles went to war against Germany, although their real reason was to maintain the "balance of power" -- i.e., Anglo-French dominance around the world, especially their colonial empires. If Hitler had had any sense, he would have focused some attention on inciting colonial rebellions against the Western imperialist powers, but I suppose his racial idiocy prevented that.

    And, still, the American people did not want to go to war.

    It took the attack on Pearl to change American public opinion, and, of course, on November 25, 1941, FDR told his inner circle (according to Stimson's diary) that FDR


    brought up the event that we were likely to be attacked perhaps next Monday [December 1], for the Japanese are notorious for making an attack without warning, and the question was what we should do. The question was how we should maneuver them into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.
     
    Anyone following FDR's policies (e.g., the Hull note) could have made that prediction: it hardly required FDR to be "prescient."

    Please note: I have no idea if FDR himself had any idea as to where the Japanese would attack. But, that his policies were inevitably leading to war was obvious to informed observers.

    Personally, I view both FDR and Churchill as evil mass murderers, not as bad as Stalin or Hitler, of course, but perhaps worse than Mussolini.

    But, that is not really relevant to the question: the quote from FDR, taken seriously, sounds as if it is just a call for moral suasion. You and I know that he was a pathological liar, and we also know the later history, so we can guess that his real thoughts were that he was really going to take the nation to war. But the passage does not say that.

    The "official" answer is wrong in terms of what the passage actually does say.

    Again, I figured out the wrong but official answer because I am really, really good at seeing through the snarky jerks who make up tests like this.

    But, even though I can out-smart them, they are still snarky jerks.

    Corvinus also wrote:


    You are in serious error here. I suggest you go to their website and learn more about their testing process, as you displaying ignorance.
     
    Oh, I did that a long, long time ago: they are still snarky jerks.

    Dave

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  111. Corvinus says:
    @Steve Sailer
    It's apparently considered top secret, but both my sons did it for one or two tests.

    Another aspect is that a lot of students take World History in 9th grade before they are thinking about AP tests. But you can take the World History AP test after you take European History in, what, 11th grade? Just memorize Chinese dynasties and few more basic facts and you can scrape by with about a week's hard study right before the test.

    “Just memorize Chinese dynasties and few more basic facts and you can scrape by with about a week’s hard study right before the test.”

    That’s not even remotely accurate. For 2017 in World History:

    8.5% of students earned a 5
    20.1% of students earned a 4
    27% of students earned a 3
    29.5% of students earned a 2
    14.9% of students earned 1

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    • Replies: @Jack D
    The score distribution you site neither disproves nor proves Steve's thesis.

    Somebody who is really dumb and not test savvy could attend every lecture and try really hard to answer the questions and get a 1. Someone like Dave who is good at test taking and crams the material a bit could get a 4.

    In the end, practically every test, especially multiple choice tests, is really a test of g (intelligence) to a great extent so if your g is high you can ace almost any test whether it is on pastry making technique or Chinese history. OTOH, if your g is low then you could be the world's greatest baker and still flunk the pastry test.

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  112. Corvinus says:
    @ganderson
    Colman's a blank-slater, too. One that lived his whole like in a high IQ bubble. Naturally, he believes IQ doesn't exist.

    I used to teach AP US History, and I also was a 'reader'- 600 of us in a a large room in downtown Louisville reading AP essays 8 hours a day for 10 days. I can testify that there are many kids taking AP exams who never wanted to take either the course, the exam, or both. I saw lots of hand turkeys and essays about how terrible their AP teachers were. My favorite essay of all time began something like:
    "I really don't know much about the populists, but I can tell you about something I do know a lot about: The Baconater" Gold!

    “I can testify that there are many kids taking AP exams who never wanted to take either the course, the exam, or both.”

    As a person who is also intimately involved in this process, my experiences are markedly different.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Ganderson
    Corvinus -I'd be interested in your observations. I was a reader almost 10 years ago- and at the time there was a great push to enroll more kids in AP courses, and have them take the exams. I haven't taught the class since 2013 ( pre the big changes of the last few years) so my info is a bit dated. I do know that at my school we have a issue- there are a bunch (very precise, I know) of kids who take AP History that probably should not, and a bunch that should take it but do not. We also teach APUSH at the 10th grade level, which in my opinion is too early.

    I also think these tests should be what they say the are- ADVANCED PLACEMENT. I am intimately acquainted with how expensive college is, ( my third is currently a senior, and they all went to semi-fancy pants liberal arts colleges), so any parent's attempt to pay less has my support and sympathy, but It seems to me though that instead of getting out of a history course, a 3 or better should entitle you to take a course in say, Colonial US, or some such.

    , @PhysicistDave
    Corvinus wrote to gnaderson:

    >[Ganderson]“I can testify that there are many kids taking AP exams who never wanted to take either the course, the exam, or both.”

    [Corvinus]As a person who is also intimately involved in this process, my experiences are markedly different.
     
    Well, Corvinus, since we homeschooled, my kids did not take any AP classes, though they did take several AP tests. On the other hand, I have heard lots of their friends discuss AP classes and tests, and what they say confirms Ganderson's claims.

    Maybe the fact that you are somehow "intimately involved" in the system prevents you from having an outside view?
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  113. Ganderson says:
    @Jack D
    Honda was even worse in terms of the mismatch between supply and demand. In those days the Honda dealers wouldn't even let you test drive a car. In part this was due to "voluntary" restrictions on imports but even after they built a US factory Hondas rarely pile up on the dealer lots the way American cars do. US automakers have excess capacity that they use to crank out the sales in good years and then in bad years they close down factories. Honda limits their capacity so that they never have factories that sit idle in bad years.

    As far as "overpriced" , there's no doubt that you'll pay more for a comparable Toyota than say a Dodge/Chrysler based on actual out the door pricing after discounts, manuf. cash back, etc. Market prices reflect the judgment of the market as to value. Sure a Camry would cost you more than a Dodge up front but would it cost you more after 10 years of ownership? Back in the "Malaise Era" it would have been even worse - the 10 year old Toyota would still have a lot of life in it (especially in a place where they don't salt the roads such as California which was their 1st big market) while the 10 year old K-Car would be falling to pieces - the tranny would have blown, etc. Sometimes not in 10 years but soon after the warranty ran out. There are literally millions of stories from that time that involve some tale of woe involving an American car and end with " and that's why I'll never buy a [Ford, Chrysler, Chevy, etc.] again. The Japanese did not win customers so much as the Big 3 lost them.

    My 2007 Accord , which my son is currently driving, just turned 230,000 miles, with mostly just normal upkeep. Great car. I’m currently driving a Ford Fusion, mainly because Honda wouldn’t sell me a 5 speed Accord with the bells and whistles I wanted. I’m guessing my days of driving a manual are numbered. I like the Fusion- let’s see if it makes a quarter of a million miles!

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  114. Ganderson says:
    @Old fogey
    Thanks for "the Baconater" story. Just out of curiosity, how many points did he get for originality?

    I wanted to give him (I assumed from the style and the penmanship that it was a boy) a nine (1-9 scale), but the rubric mandated a 0 :( All the others at the table got a chuckle, though. My other favorite was a girl (again, my assumption) who wrote that the farmers of the late 19th century hated railroad expansion because the trains went right through their houses….

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    • Replies: @Old fogey
    I am glad to hear there is some comical relief nowadays to the dismal chore of grading exams.

    When grading papers in Tehran a thousand years ago for a first-year English-as-a-foreign=language class at the local university I ran into an essay that bore no relation to the topic assigned. I automatically graded that part of the test with a zero but found out later that the head of the department had overridden my grade, in fact he gave the student maximum credit. As a newcomer to the country and very inexperienced, I had not picked up from the writing - full of glowing compliments to the wonders of the Shah's government - that the student was signalling that he was playing more than one role at the university and should be treated with kid gloves.
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  115. Ganderson says:
    @Corvinus
    "I can testify that there are many kids taking AP exams who never wanted to take either the course, the exam, or both."

    As a person who is also intimately involved in this process, my experiences are markedly different.

    Corvinus -I’d be interested in your observations. I was a reader almost 10 years ago- and at the time there was a great push to enroll more kids in AP courses, and have them take the exams. I haven’t taught the class since 2013 ( pre the big changes of the last few years) so my info is a bit dated. I do know that at my school we have a issue- there are a bunch (very precise, I know) of kids who take AP History that probably should not, and a bunch that should take it but do not. We also teach APUSH at the 10th grade level, which in my opinion is too early.

    I also think these tests should be what they say the are- ADVANCED PLACEMENT. I am intimately acquainted with how expensive college is, ( my third is currently a senior, and they all went to semi-fancy pants liberal arts colleges), so any parent’s attempt to pay less has my support and sympathy, but It seems to me though that instead of getting out of a history course, a 3 or better should entitle you to take a course in say, Colonial US, or some such.

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  116. As for your nephew who flunked out at the U of IL — was he at the Champaign Urbana campus? If so, the XBox behavior may have been a retreat from the extremely pathological sexual ecology of that campus which was manifest when I was at the PLATO project at CERL in the mid to late 1970s: a 2.7:1 male to female ratio. It has evolved since that time into a different form wherein the lower male to female ratio has been transformed by the greatly increased presence of largely south Asian males. It would mess with any young, heterosexual white male’s head.

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  117. Jack D says:
    @Corvinus
    "Just memorize Chinese dynasties and few more basic facts and you can scrape by with about a week’s hard study right before the test."

    That's not even remotely accurate. For 2017 in World History:

    8.5% of students earned a 5
    20.1% of students earned a 4
    27% of students earned a 3
    29.5% of students earned a 2
    14.9% of students earned 1

    The score distribution you site neither disproves nor proves Steve’s thesis.

    Somebody who is really dumb and not test savvy could attend every lecture and try really hard to answer the questions and get a 1. Someone like Dave who is good at test taking and crams the material a bit could get a 4.

    In the end, practically every test, especially multiple choice tests, is really a test of g (intelligence) to a great extent so if your g is high you can ace almost any test whether it is on pastry making technique or Chinese history. OTOH, if your g is low then you could be the world’s greatest baker and still flunk the pastry test.

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    • Replies: @Anon
    The AP World exam mostly tests critical thinking; plus, you should have some vague and general idea of actual world history.

    Source: I took it and got a 5.
    (My essay question was on the influence of cricket on Indian politics.)

    Here's a practice test: https://secure-media.collegeboard.org/digitalServices/pdf/ap/ap-world-history-ced-practice-exam.pdf
    , @Corvinus
    "The score distribution you site neither disproves nor proves Steve’s thesis."

    Again, AP tests are more than rote memory. They also measure skills.

    "In the end, practically every test, especially multiple choice tests, is really a test of g (intelligence) to a great extent so if your g is high you can ace almost any test whether it is on pastry making technique or Chinese history."

    A person can "ace" a test so long as they had achieved a thorough understanding of both the content and skills.
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  118. “I bet very few “ordinary” high schools ever tell their students that they can study on their own and take a test without sitting through an AP course in the subject.”

    Wrong. Most do. But–as I’ve said several times now– people who think the advantage of AP lies in the passing of the test as opposed to the grade bump and its value the course has to your transcript are so completely beside the point that I’m kind of amazed Steve still focuses on this.

    Colleges don’t look at tests passed in admissions. So no one cares whether you passed a test when they’re considering you for Harvard, Princeton, Berkeley, UVA, or the rest.

    That makes it irrelevant unless you’re the type of person who likes to collect Boy Scout merit badges or compare playlists, I guess.

    BTW, the history tests have been redone to even further deemphasize facts. Very ideological these days, although I think you can still pass with a traditional approach.

    “Teachers should not be encouraged to sign up students they deem not to be good candidates for an AP class. Why give youngsters who are already struggling an additional opportunity to fail? How does that help them?”

    Teachers aren’t encouraging students who aren’t good candidates. Administrators are, and they’re doing this because they will be fired if they don’t. URMs taking AP classes is a HUGE part of a school’s evaluation–for accreditation, for SARs, whatever. Who doesn’t already know this?

    The horrible part is you can take a fairly bright kid who’s happy skating through easy courses with As and Bs, and force them into an AP course. But the teacher insists on giving homework, which the kid insists on not doing. So now you’ve taken a bright kid and given him an F. Didn’t help your stats, screwed up his GPA.

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    • Replies: @anon

    people who think the advantage of AP lies in the passing of the test as opposed to the grade bump and its value the course has to your transcript
     
    It would be hard to get in the top 10% of your class in highly competitive high schools without the grade bump.

    This only matters if you are trying to get admitted to a top 30 undergraduate program or equivalent. Or the handful of most competitive publics or some competitive scholarships at the 30-100 level.

    Things might have gotten worse in the decade since I paid attention to these things.

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  119. ” [Certification] is a major trend in computer related fields. As a business — testing and certifying is inherently more profitable. No need for expensive facilities, teachers, etc.”

    There is a need to spend HUGE amounts of money to keep test secure, and the money’s wasted. Microsoft and other tech companies spend a fortune to try and keep tests out of the hands of people in India, Pakistan, and China. A huge chunk of certifications were purchased through test fraud.

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  120. res says:
    @PhysicistDave
    Yan Shen wrote to me:

    Well I mean isn’t it sort of expected on most content based tests that the content only covers the list of announced topics? Imagine if you were taking a finals for some class in college and you were tested on something that you weren’t expecting to be tested on. Wouldn’t make much sense right?
     
    Well... being tested on something not covered in class was what we expected at Caltech!

    The problem is that the College Board rigidly defines the content of the AP physics classes, and the content is just stupid -- this is not how you learn physics. And multiple-choice tests? With too little time to work out the answers in a normal way so that you need to use skills of being "test-wise" instead of actual knowledge of physics? No, I have never seen that sort of thing in any legitimate university environment.

    Again, I myself do well at this sort of thing: it does a good job of measuring the skills of those of us who are super-test-wise. But, it is not a good way of testing for physics, and I know of no legitimate college physics program that tests in this way.

    The AP tests are a bad joke that do happen to benefit super-test-wise guys like me.

    Yan Shen also wrote:

    Your complaint about the physics C AP exam seems to be that maybe it’s not “hard” enough, which I guess might be fair?
     
    No. I just do not think it is a physics test. I think it is a test of how well you have been prepped for this particular remarkably silly test, not how well you know physics (or, in some cases like me, how clever you are at outsmarting the test makers).

    Yan Shen also wrote:

    I don't recall the AP Calc exam that I took back in the day containing "gimmicky" problems favoring those who knew special tricks. They were just basic calculus questions.
     
    When you took it, did they have the bizarrely silly questions with the vector field pictures? I taught my kids how to solve those stupid problems, but, in all my years of using calculus in theoretical physics, engineering, and pure math, I have never had to deal with problems like that.

    Pure idiocy.

    The College Board is turning America into China back in the days of the pointless exams on the Chinese classics that served no purpose.

    (Yes, I know: America is now so corrupt that returning to the level of corruption of late Imperial China might actually be an improvement!)

    Dave

    Well… being tested on something not covered in class was what we expected at Caltech!

    Could you elaborate on that? I am guessing you mean moderately straightforward (for a Caltech student) extensions to things that were covered in class. Or do you have something else in mind? And does “class” mean just classroom time or include all of the reading?

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    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    res wrote to me:

    Could you elaborate on that? I am guessing you mean moderately straightforward (for a Caltech student) extensions to things that were covered in class
     
    Oh, no. I'll give you a concrete example: I scored 60 per cent on the first physics quiz freshman year. I was upset, considering that I was planning on majoring in physics.

    Until, that is, I found out that no one else in the entire freshman class had scored as high as 60 per cent! I had beaten every other freshman with a score that would have earned an "F" in my high school.

    res also wrote:

    And does “class” mean just classroom time or include all of the reading?
     
    No. Caltech was quite insanely inhuman. We averaged one suicide a year out of a total undergraduate student body of less than a thousand (i.e., less than 250 in the incoming freshman class).

    You can see why I urged my kids not to go to Caltech.

    On the other hand, once I realized that I was less lost than almost any of the other students, I myself came to enjoy it. I graduated with a 4.0, the top GPA among the physics majors (and math and astronomy majors too -- these three majors were together in one "division").

    If you did manage not to commit suicide, the Caltech experience did serve us well in later life in one respect. Caltech graduates tend not to shy away from a problem in the "real world" just because they have never seen anything like it before. After all, that was our undergraduate life.

    But, even though I enjoyed Caltech, an awful lot of my fellow students were truly miserable.

    (By the way, one of Feynman's lectures, not published in the original three-volume series but published later, tried to reassure Techers that the misery would end once they went out into the real world -- see the section "Caltech from the bottom" in Feynman's Tips on Physics).

    Dave
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  121. anon says: • Disclaimer

    I got straight 5s in all the hard science APs in the late 90s, but CMU said “nope we don’t buy the calculus test. take our harder one.” I had to repeat Calc 2 :(

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    • Replies: @Jack D
    As Steve said, the AP courses are supposed to duplicate a freshman intro course at an average State U. Calculus at CMU is not the same as calculus at Podunk State U (formerly known as Podunk State Normal School).
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  122. anon says: • Disclaimer
    @education realist
    "I bet very few “ordinary” high schools ever tell their students that they can study on their own and take a test without sitting through an AP course in the subject."

    Wrong. Most do. But--as I've said several times now-- people who think the advantage of AP lies in the passing of the test as opposed to the grade bump and its value the course has to your transcript are so completely beside the point that I'm kind of amazed Steve still focuses on this.

    Colleges don't look at tests passed in admissions. So no one cares whether you passed a test when they're considering you for Harvard, Princeton, Berkeley, UVA, or the rest.

    That makes it irrelevant unless you're the type of person who likes to collect Boy Scout merit badges or compare playlists, I guess.

    BTW, the history tests have been redone to even further deemphasize facts. Very ideological these days, although I think you can still pass with a traditional approach.

    "Teachers should not be encouraged to sign up students they deem not to be good candidates for an AP class. Why give youngsters who are already struggling an additional opportunity to fail? How does that help them?"

    Teachers aren't encouraging students who aren't good candidates. Administrators are, and they're doing this because they will be fired if they don't. URMs taking AP classes is a HUGE part of a school's evaluation--for accreditation, for SARs, whatever. Who doesn't already know this?

    The horrible part is you can take a fairly bright kid who's happy skating through easy courses with As and Bs, and force them into an AP course. But the teacher insists on giving homework, which the kid insists on not doing. So now you've taken a bright kid and given him an F. Didn't help your stats, screwed up his GPA.

    people who think the advantage of AP lies in the passing of the test as opposed to the grade bump and its value the course has to your transcript

    It would be hard to get in the top 10% of your class in highly competitive high schools without the grade bump.

    This only matters if you are trying to get admitted to a top 30 undergraduate program or equivalent. Or the handful of most competitive publics or some competitive scholarships at the 30-100 level.

    Things might have gotten worse in the decade since I paid attention to these things.

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  123. anon says: • Disclaimer
    @Carneades

    Similarly, I have seen a lot of university math professors complaining about AP Calculus: their students have been trained like parrots to do the tricks required to get a 5 on AP Calculus without actually understanding what is going on. (This is basically what Jaime Escalante famously figured out, and why his students all made similar errors — they had been trained in the same tricks to get the answers.)
     
    Students would be better served by having their teachers use Michael Spivak's book Calculus which spends time on the theories of functions and limits before applying their rules to actual problems.

    Students would be better served by having their teachers use Michael Spivak’s book Calculus which spends time on the theories of functions and limits before applying their rules to actual problems.

    Most high schools would have trouble finding anyone capable of teaching that book. Great book though.

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    • Replies: @ColRebSez
    The quality of the teacher makes a huge difference in how many students make passing scores. While on Spring Break last year I talked to my kids, both of whom were taking AP U.S. History with different teachers. My son was just getting to the Civil War; my daughter was starting World War II. Son scored a 2, daughter scored a 4. Both made A's for the class. Mr. Slow no longer teachers AP classes, either.
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  124. Jack D says:
    @anon
    I got straight 5s in all the hard science APs in the late 90s, but CMU said "nope we don't buy the calculus test. take our harder one." I had to repeat Calc 2 :(

    As Steve said, the AP courses are supposed to duplicate a freshman intro course at an average State U. Calculus at CMU is not the same as calculus at Podunk State U (formerly known as Podunk State Normal School).

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  125. Anon says: • Disclaimer
    @Jack D
    The score distribution you site neither disproves nor proves Steve's thesis.

    Somebody who is really dumb and not test savvy could attend every lecture and try really hard to answer the questions and get a 1. Someone like Dave who is good at test taking and crams the material a bit could get a 4.

    In the end, practically every test, especially multiple choice tests, is really a test of g (intelligence) to a great extent so if your g is high you can ace almost any test whether it is on pastry making technique or Chinese history. OTOH, if your g is low then you could be the world's greatest baker and still flunk the pastry test.

    The AP World exam mostly tests critical thinking; plus, you should have some vague and general idea of actual world history.

    Source: I took it and got a 5.
    (My essay question was on the influence of cricket on Indian politics.)

    Here’s a practice test: https://secure-media.collegeboard.org/digitalServices/pdf/ap/ap-world-history-ced-practice-exam.pdf

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  126. Old fogey says:
    @Ganderson
    I wanted to give him (I assumed from the style and the penmanship that it was a boy) a nine (1-9 scale), but the rubric mandated a 0 :( All the others at the table got a chuckle, though. My other favorite was a girl (again, my assumption) who wrote that the farmers of the late 19th century hated railroad expansion because the trains went right through their houses....

    I am glad to hear there is some comical relief nowadays to the dismal chore of grading exams.

    When grading papers in Tehran a thousand years ago for a first-year English-as-a-foreign=language class at the local university I ran into an essay that bore no relation to the topic assigned. I automatically graded that part of the test with a zero but found out later that the head of the department had overridden my grade, in fact he gave the student maximum credit. As a newcomer to the country and very inexperienced, I had not picked up from the writing – full of glowing compliments to the wonders of the Shah’s government – that the student was signalling that he was playing more than one role at the university and should be treated with kid gloves.

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  127. cthulhu says:
    @Bubba

    But a nephew who AP’d out of his entire freshman year at the U. of Illinois immediately flunked out because his sophomore level engineering courses he took as a freshman were so tough relative to how much xBox he was playing without his mom around to nag him into doing his homework.
     
    While he may have been distracted by an xBox, I bet he did not compete with as many Asians at U of Illinois as he did in high school. It was a rude awakening for me and glad I did not use my AP credits in college. The engineering degree I received was well deserved and the competition was fierce.

    Late to the party here, but anyway…

    I doubt that it was the xBox or the Asians; I’ll bet that it was just the overall level of effort required compared to high school, even with a ton of AP classes. Every engineering program I’ve ever heard of has some weed-out classes – in my program, it was the three-semester whammy of Physics I, Physics II, and Themodynamics I, which for most students started with the second semester (I somewhat foolishly ended up starting this sequence my very first semester despite never having touched either calculus or physics in high school, due to a poor white trash high school that topped out at chemistry and trig; I made it through OK though). If you make it through this sequence, you stand a good chance of having the wherewithal and the skills to get your degree. The rationale is that if the college can wash out early on those who won’t make it, they can get those former engineering students into a degree program that makes more sense for them.

    Anyway, coming into a respectable engineering program in the second year and not having had two semesters of ramping up to the expectations…sounds very tough; he probably would have been more successful to have re-taken just about everything math and science he AP’ed out (humanities stuff, not so much) just to get used to the new level of performance required.

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  128. cthulhu says:
    @Rod1963

    From what I can tell, whites are comfortably ensconced in the middle of the country without too many Asians in competition, so they really don’t need to take AP classes. They really don’t save you that much time in college anymore, particularly good ones.
     
    Also if they don't have "working with your hands if for stupid people" mentality that Asians and upper class whites have. They can take up a trade and make a nice living and not have to worry about being out-sourced or replaced by a Babu or Chinese coolie.

    Sure it's not cool like having a college degree and sitting at a desk all day in some cube farm. But the work is honest and you're not saddled with six figure debt right out of the starting gate.

    To be blunt, with all the frenzy by our elites to replace white workers with lower wage, docile foreigners(docile to management not to us) I really can't see why a smart white boy would take the college route knowing in a decade his job and career will probably be done by some foreigner.

    To be blunt, with all the frenzy by our elites to replace white workers with lower wage, docile foreigners(docile to management not to us) I really can’t see why a smart white boy would take the college route knowing in a decade his job and career will probably be done by some foreigner.

    I keep telling people…go into aerospace, mechanical, or electrical engineering, or some useful kinds of physics like optics and lasers, or applied math with emphasis on statistics and probability, or a really good computer science program where you get down and dirty with the hardware, then go into the defense industry. The vast majority of positions require US citizenship and a security clearance, and outsourcing is essentially never an issue. If you’re good, you can get paid well even if you stay on the technical track and don’t go into management. Just stay off the weed; marijuana is still illegal at the federal level and can screw up your getting a security clearance :-)

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    • Agree: Triumph104
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  129. ColRebSez says: • Website

    A lot of people question just how much college credit students can (or actually do) earn through AP classes. The answer is quite a lot. All but the most elite schools accept them, although some require a 5. Here’s a link to the University of Alabama credit by examination page: https://catalog.ua.edu/undergraduate/about/academic-regulations/policies/credit-by-examination/

    It’s not uncommon for students to take six or eight AP classes over their last three years of high school; some of these offer four to six hours of credit. I would guess that about 20 out of 240 kids in my son’s graduating class passed five or more AP classes. My son started university with something like 32 hours from AP credit plus another 35 from dual enrollment, so he enrolls as a freshman and will be a junior his second semester. His ACT-based scholarship at Alabama (32-plus, next year rising to 33-plus gets free tuition) is good for eight semesters, so he can get two masters degrees should he be so inclined, or do a lot of foreign study.

    You can put a pencil to it and figure out that taking and passing AP courses can save a family quite a bit of money. And although dual enrollment does cost (for us it was half tuition), it’s still cheaper for them to earn the college credits without having to pay their room, board, beer, and social fees.

    Changing the subject, but although dual enrollment only makes sense if you live in or near a university town, it was really helpful for me to be able to advise my son on his first college classes, including for example the group project, where I told him that it was almost a certainty that one of the team members would fail to produce their work for some reason and that he would need to have a contingency plan. When it happened he was somewhat prepared. He took one incredibly difficult business class, and I felt he was better off taking it while living at home under my watchful eye than as a freshman dealing with pledging and partying. I would recommend it to any parent; the only downside is that only attending three classes a day at the high school and then going over to the university pretty much removes one from high school life.

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    AP tests saved me tens of thousands of dollars in college tuition and room and board.
    , @Triumph104
    A woman from South Central Los Angeles took community college classes during high school that did not count toward her high school graduation credits. When she went to Stanford, the university applied those community college classes toward her undergraduate degree. She earned a bachelor's in African American Studies in three years and a master's in Education her senior year.
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  130. ColRebSez says: • Website
    @anon

    Students would be better served by having their teachers use Michael Spivak’s book Calculus which spends time on the theories of functions and limits before applying their rules to actual problems.
     
    Most high schools would have trouble finding anyone capable of teaching that book. Great book though.

    The quality of the teacher makes a huge difference in how many students make passing scores. While on Spring Break last year I talked to my kids, both of whom were taking AP U.S. History with different teachers. My son was just getting to the Civil War; my daughter was starting World War II. Son scored a 2, daughter scored a 4. Both made A’s for the class. Mr. Slow no longer teachers AP classes, either.

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  131. @ColRebSez
    A lot of people question just how much college credit students can (or actually do) earn through AP classes. The answer is quite a lot. All but the most elite schools accept them, although some require a 5. Here's a link to the University of Alabama credit by examination page: https://catalog.ua.edu/undergraduate/about/academic-regulations/policies/credit-by-examination/

    It's not uncommon for students to take six or eight AP classes over their last three years of high school; some of these offer four to six hours of credit. I would guess that about 20 out of 240 kids in my son's graduating class passed five or more AP classes. My son started university with something like 32 hours from AP credit plus another 35 from dual enrollment, so he enrolls as a freshman and will be a junior his second semester. His ACT-based scholarship at Alabama (32-plus, next year rising to 33-plus gets free tuition) is good for eight semesters, so he can get two masters degrees should he be so inclined, or do a lot of foreign study.

    You can put a pencil to it and figure out that taking and passing AP courses can save a family quite a bit of money. And although dual enrollment does cost (for us it was half tuition), it's still cheaper for them to earn the college credits without having to pay their room, board, beer, and social fees.

    Changing the subject, but although dual enrollment only makes sense if you live in or near a university town, it was really helpful for me to be able to advise my son on his first college classes, including for example the group project, where I told him that it was almost a certainty that one of the team members would fail to produce their work for some reason and that he would need to have a contingency plan. When it happened he was somewhat prepared. He took one incredibly difficult business class, and I felt he was better off taking it while living at home under my watchful eye than as a freshman dealing with pledging and partying. I would recommend it to any parent; the only downside is that only attending three classes a day at the high school and then going over to the university pretty much removes one from high school life.

    AP tests saved me tens of thousands of dollars in college tuition and room and board.

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  132. @res

    Well… being tested on something not covered in class was what we expected at Caltech!
     
    Could you elaborate on that? I am guessing you mean moderately straightforward (for a Caltech student) extensions to things that were covered in class. Or do you have something else in mind? And does "class" mean just classroom time or include all of the reading?

    res wrote to me:

    Could you elaborate on that? I am guessing you mean moderately straightforward (for a Caltech student) extensions to things that were covered in class

    Oh, no. I’ll give you a concrete example: I scored 60 per cent on the first physics quiz freshman year. I was upset, considering that I was planning on majoring in physics.

    Until, that is, I found out that no one else in the entire freshman class had scored as high as 60 per cent! I had beaten every other freshman with a score that would have earned an “F” in my high school.

    res also wrote:

    And does “class” mean just classroom time or include all of the reading?

    No. Caltech was quite insanely inhuman. We averaged one suicide a year out of a total undergraduate student body of less than a thousand (i.e., less than 250 in the incoming freshman class).

    You can see why I urged my kids not to go to Caltech.

    On the other hand, once I realized that I was less lost than almost any of the other students, I myself came to enjoy it. I graduated with a 4.0, the top GPA among the physics majors (and math and astronomy majors too — these three majors were together in one “division”).

    If you did manage not to commit suicide, the Caltech experience did serve us well in later life in one respect. Caltech graduates tend not to shy away from a problem in the “real world” just because they have never seen anything like it before. After all, that was our undergraduate life.

    But, even though I enjoyed Caltech, an awful lot of my fellow students were truly miserable.

    (By the way, one of Feynman’s lectures, not published in the original three-volume series but published later, tried to reassure Techers that the misery would end once they went out into the real world — see the section “Caltech from the bottom” in Feynman’s Tips on Physics).

    Dave

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    • Replies: @res
    Thanks for your response! So I take it that was the norm for Caltech tests? Ouch! I had a slightly less dramatic example of that with an upperclass E&M theory class test (I was horrified immediately afterwards and at my results until I found out the class average was in the 20s, mine wasn't the top result but was +2SD IIRC) but that was not the norm. I think we had "moderately straightforward extensions" on many tests, but I think most of the difficulty came from the sheer volume of at least somewhat difficult work that needed to be accomplished in limited time.

    The decision to go to a place like that can be difficult. Especially given that virtually everyone there was one of the best at their high school. If you don't mind my asking, what did you recommend and your kids choose for colleges to attend?

    P.S. Impressive results! Top GPA of perhaps the hardest major and university combo in the country. I am a smart guy by most people's standards, but there are some truly impressive people here.
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  133. @Corvinus
    "None of those options is actually presented in the quote from FDR."

    Exactly. The students are to take his quote in context, think about its meaning, and then relate it back to information they learned in class. B is the correct answer.

    "Knowing the additional fact that FDR did not formally form an alliance with Britain until the Newfoundland meeting with Churchill in August 1941, and knowing that the test creators (probably) know this also, I am willing to rule out answer (d), but you cannot tell that from the quoted passage."

    You have the benefit of hindsight and understanding historical phenomenon. High school students, however, are learning to make those connections.

    "But, let’s be honest: the quote from FDR was actually just political boilerplate, intentionally bland and ambiguous..."

    No. His speech was a "trial balloon", intended to gauge the American citizen interest in this matter. FDR intended to influence Great Britain and France to reduce the spread of violence by Germany and Japan. He was of the mindset that because nations are dependent upon one another, they could not turn a "blind eye" to clear violations of republican principles. Otherwise, he concluded, their "hand in the sand approach" would ultimately impact their own political and economic stability.

    "FDR certainly was not going to baldly announce to the American people in 1937 that his plan was for the USA to “combat aggression on a global scale.”

    He certainly made the implication, and the American people responded with a resounding "No". However, with the Fall of Poland in 1939 and the Fall of France in 1940, his words were prescient.

    "The test question is anachronistic and politically naive."

    The purpose of the exam are for students to apply their knowledge of history, NOT to suit your preferred political narrative. You are reading WAY too much into the question.

    "You or I or any decent student could write a reasonable essay expanding on that political reality."

    Indeed. There are short answer, long answer, and document based questions that would enable students to dig deeper into that political reality. However, the purpose of the multiple choice questions are to test the application of several skills--main idea, cause-effect, inference--in the setting of American history.

    "But, no, instead we have to choose among four answers, every one of which misses the actual point of why FDR said what he said."

    The question pertains to the skill of comparison. It's purpose is for the students to understand that 1920's American commitment to isolationism was being challenged by European aggression in the 1930's. FDR made a speech stating that America ought to take on that challenge, only to be heavily rebuked by the his fellow citizens.

    "Why doesn’t it occur to most people that those who actually understand a lot about history (or physics or chemistry or economics or biology or…) are not writing tests for the College Board?"

    You are in serious error here. I suggest you go to their website and learn more about their testing process, as you displaying ignorance. Not your fault, mind you.

    Corvinus wrote to me:

    Exactly. The students are to take his quote in context, think about its meaning, and then relate it back to information they learned in class. B is the correct answer.

    See… just as I predicted. Which is how I got a 4 on APUSH by BSing my way through the entire test without doing any prepping at all.

    Corvinus also wrote:

    No. His speech was a “trial balloon”, intended to gauge the American citizen interest in this matter. FDR intended to influence Great Britain and France to reduce the spread of violence by Germany and Japan. He was of the mindset that because nations are dependent upon one another, they could not turn a “blind eye” to clear violations of republican principles. Otherwise, he concluded, their “hand in the sand approach” would ultimately impact their own political and economic stability.

    Indeed: you and I of course agree that that was what FDR was up to.

    Corvinus also wrote:

    He certainly made the implication, and the American people responded with a resounding “No”.

    Did they? Certainly the intelligent ones saw through his scheming. But is there any evidence that the so-called “quarantine speech” met with massive public opposition? I do not recall that.

    Corvinus also wrote:

    However, with the Fall of Poland in 1939 and the Fall of France in 1940, his words were prescient.

    Well… by refusing to arrange for some reasonable solution to the Danzig problem, the Poles recklessly gave Hitler the excuse he needed to destroy their country. And, then, Britain and France, supposedly to protect the heroic (foolish) Poles went to war against Germany, although their real reason was to maintain the “balance of power” — i.e., Anglo-French dominance around the world, especially their colonial empires. If Hitler had had any sense, he would have focused some attention on inciting colonial rebellions against the Western imperialist powers, but I suppose his racial idiocy prevented that.

    And, still, the American people did not want to go to war.

    It took the attack on Pearl to change American public opinion, and, of course, on November 25, 1941, FDR told his inner circle (according to Stimson’s diary) that FDR

    brought up the event that we were likely to be attacked perhaps next Monday [December 1], for the Japanese are notorious for making an attack without warning, and the question was what we should do. The question was how we should maneuver them into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.

    Anyone following FDR’s policies (e.g., the Hull note) could have made that prediction: it hardly required FDR to be “prescient.”

    Please note: I have no idea if FDR himself had any idea as to where the Japanese would attack. But, that his policies were inevitably leading to war was obvious to informed observers.

    Personally, I view both FDR and Churchill as evil mass murderers, not as bad as Stalin or Hitler, of course, but perhaps worse than Mussolini.

    But, that is not really relevant to the question: the quote from FDR, taken seriously, sounds as if it is just a call for moral suasion. You and I know that he was a pathological liar, and we also know the later history, so we can guess that his real thoughts were that he was really going to take the nation to war. But the passage does not say that.

    The “official” answer is wrong in terms of what the passage actually does say.

    Again, I figured out the wrong but official answer because I am really, really good at seeing through the snarky jerks who make up tests like this.

    But, even though I can out-smart them, they are still snarky jerks.

    Corvinus also wrote:

    You are in serious error here. I suggest you go to their website and learn more about their testing process, as you displaying ignorance.

    Oh, I did that a long, long time ago: they are still snarky jerks.

    Dave

    Read More
    • Replies: @Corvinus
    "See… just as I predicted. Which is how I got a 4 on APUSH by BSing my way through the entire test without doing any prepping at all."

    You don't merely "BS" your way to a 4 through the old holistic grading process without prepping. Look at who is being snarky here.

    "Did they? Certainly the intelligent ones saw through his scheming. But is there any evidence that the so-called “quarantine speech” met with massive public opposition? I do not recall that."

    There was not any "scheming". It was a reaction to world events, one that FDR realized would eventually lead to American involvement in some way, shape, or form. The speech intensified America's isolationist mood in large part because the United States was still in the midst of a Great Depression.

    "Well… by refusing to arrange for some reasonable solution to the Danzig problem, the Poles recklessly gave Hitler the excuse he needed to destroy their country."

    The Poles were other than reckless. They were exercising their right to self-determination in the aftermath of World War I. Consider that the area was majority Poles who did not want to remain under the control of Prussia, had generally treated the Polish population and other minorities as second-class citizens. Moreover, without direct access to the Baltic Sea, Poland contended that it would be economically weakened by high German tariffs.

    "And, then, Britain and France, supposedly to protect the heroic (foolish) Poles went to war against Germany, although their real reason was to maintain the “balance of power” — i.e., Anglo-French dominance around the world, especially their colonial empires."

    Great Britain and France realized they had been bamboozled when they caved in at Munich in 1934 by allowing Germany to assume control of the Sudetenland in exchange for peace. These two nations had every right to assist their fellow European brethren from a vicious assault on their own liberty.

    "Please note: I have no idea if FDR himself had any idea as to where the Japanese would attack. But, that his policies were inevitably leading to war was obvious to informed observers."

    Aggression by Germany and Japan drew us into war. As a result, America sought ways to assist their allies.

    "Personally, I view both FDR and Churchill as evil mass murderers, not as bad as Stalin or Hitler, of course, but perhaps worse than Mussolini."

    You would be in the minority with that opinion.

    "You and I know that he was a pathological liar..."

    No, we do not. You can assume, of course.

    "and we also know the later history, so we can guess that his real thoughts were that he was really going to take the nation to war."

    His "real thoughts" were to protect American interests against German, Italian, and Japanese invasions against free peoples for raw materials.

    "Again, I figured out the wrong but official answer because I am really, really good at seeing through the snarky jerks who make up tests like this."

    Thank you very much for your opinion on this matter.
    , @Opinionator
    although their real reason was to maintain the “balance of power” — i.e., Anglo-French dominance around the world, especially their colonial empires.

    Germany posed no threat to their colonial empires.
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  134. Corvinus says:
    @Jack D
    The score distribution you site neither disproves nor proves Steve's thesis.

    Somebody who is really dumb and not test savvy could attend every lecture and try really hard to answer the questions and get a 1. Someone like Dave who is good at test taking and crams the material a bit could get a 4.

    In the end, practically every test, especially multiple choice tests, is really a test of g (intelligence) to a great extent so if your g is high you can ace almost any test whether it is on pastry making technique or Chinese history. OTOH, if your g is low then you could be the world's greatest baker and still flunk the pastry test.

    “The score distribution you site neither disproves nor proves Steve’s thesis.”

    Again, AP tests are more than rote memory. They also measure skills.

    “In the end, practically every test, especially multiple choice tests, is really a test of g (intelligence) to a great extent so if your g is high you can ace almost any test whether it is on pastry making technique or Chinese history.”

    A person can “ace” a test so long as they had achieved a thorough understanding of both the content and skills.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anon
    Obviously they test skills (mostly critical thinking), which is why you can cram for a week and pass if you're good at test-taking, which is exactly what JackD said.
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  135. res says:
    @Anonymous
    These are the past STEP papers in maths for entry to Cambridge:
    http://www.admissionstestingservice.org/for-test-takers/step/preparing-for-step/

    This is a question from paper 2, 1998 (A levels are the standard exams that school students at this age take):
    The diagnostic test AL has a probability 0.9 of giving a positive result when applied to a
    person suffering from the rare disease mathematitis. It also has a probability 1/11 of giving a
    false positive result when applied to a non-sufferer. It is known that only 1% of the population
    suffer from the disease. Given that the test AL is positive when applied to Frankie, who is
    chosen at random from the population, what is the probability that Frankie is a sufferer?

    In an attempt to identify sufferers more accurately, a second diagnostic test STEP is given
    to those for whom the test AL gave a positive result. The probablility of STEP giving a
    positive result on a sufferer is 0.9, and the probability that it gives a false positive result on a
    non-sufferer is p. Half of those for whom AL was positive and on whom STEP then also gives
    a positive result are sufferers. Find p.

    That is a good and entertaining question with valuable real world analogs, but don’t they need to explicitly state that STEP and AL results are statistically independent to make it solvable? (not just a nitpick, this is a real problem with multiple rounds of diagnostic tests, and I am pretty sure the analogous math test results are not independent. I suppose it is possible they are implicitly assuming the numbers they give for STEP apply to those already detected by AL, but I think that needs to be made explicit)

    The analogy is fun. Any thoughts on how reflective the numbers they chose are of reality?
    If I did the math correctly the first answer is 99/189 or just over 50% and the second answer is 99%.

    The first answer makes the important point (also highly relevant for diagnostic tests of low prevalence medical conditions) that AL is not that good at creating a cohort largely suffering from mathematitis (i.e. what your admissions officers want). But the second answer makes the point that the second test (STEP) has a terrible false positive result and actually decreases discriminatory value over AL by itself (and almost doubles the number of false negatives). That seems rather the opposite of reality (one would hope anyway).

    Did I make a mistake? Given how many mistakes I found double checking that seems more likely than I would hope.

    P.S. It is easy to criticize the A levels for lack of discriminatory power concerning high end math talent, but even so I think they are valuable for reducing the population you need to give the STEP test given the time consuming nature of its grading. Or does Cambridge let just anyone take the STEP? I suppose self selection might be good enough and grading people who obviously don’t belong is probably pretty easy.

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  136. res says:
    @PhysicistDave
    res wrote to me:

    Could you elaborate on that? I am guessing you mean moderately straightforward (for a Caltech student) extensions to things that were covered in class
     
    Oh, no. I'll give you a concrete example: I scored 60 per cent on the first physics quiz freshman year. I was upset, considering that I was planning on majoring in physics.

    Until, that is, I found out that no one else in the entire freshman class had scored as high as 60 per cent! I had beaten every other freshman with a score that would have earned an "F" in my high school.

    res also wrote:

    And does “class” mean just classroom time or include all of the reading?
     
    No. Caltech was quite insanely inhuman. We averaged one suicide a year out of a total undergraduate student body of less than a thousand (i.e., less than 250 in the incoming freshman class).

    You can see why I urged my kids not to go to Caltech.

    On the other hand, once I realized that I was less lost than almost any of the other students, I myself came to enjoy it. I graduated with a 4.0, the top GPA among the physics majors (and math and astronomy majors too -- these three majors were together in one "division").

    If you did manage not to commit suicide, the Caltech experience did serve us well in later life in one respect. Caltech graduates tend not to shy away from a problem in the "real world" just because they have never seen anything like it before. After all, that was our undergraduate life.

    But, even though I enjoyed Caltech, an awful lot of my fellow students were truly miserable.

    (By the way, one of Feynman's lectures, not published in the original three-volume series but published later, tried to reassure Techers that the misery would end once they went out into the real world -- see the section "Caltech from the bottom" in Feynman's Tips on Physics).

    Dave

    Thanks for your response! So I take it that was the norm for Caltech tests? Ouch! I had a slightly less dramatic example of that with an upperclass E&M theory class test (I was horrified immediately afterwards and at my results until I found out the class average was in the 20s, mine wasn’t the top result but was +2SD IIRC) but that was not the norm. I think we had “moderately straightforward extensions” on many tests, but I think most of the difficulty came from the sheer volume of at least somewhat difficult work that needed to be accomplished in limited time.

    The decision to go to a place like that can be difficult. Especially given that virtually everyone there was one of the best at their high school. If you don’t mind my asking, what did you recommend and your kids choose for colleges to attend?

    P.S. Impressive results! Top GPA of perhaps the hardest major and university combo in the country. I am a smart guy by most people’s standards, but there are some truly impressive people here.

    Read More
    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    res wrote to me:

    If you don’t mind my asking, what did you recommend and your kids choose for colleges to attend?
     
    UCLA School of Engineering for both. The schools they were most seriously considering were MIT, Stanford, and UCLA.

    MIT is similar to Caltech in being inhumanly rigorous: my impression from various sources is that engineering classes today at MIT may be even tougher than Caltech. MIT does, however, seem to be a more supportive environment than Caltech, and MIT students seem to be substantially saner (of course still a bit eccentric) than Caltech students.

    Stanford is, of course, one of the most prestigious STEM schools in the country; however, I myself feel that I made a bad decision in doing my Ph.D. at Stanford. Without going into details, I'll just say that the recent Ziad Ahmed scandal does not surprise me that much.

    When we visited UCLA School of Engineering, we found it among the academically strongest and most welcoming of the schools we visited: I think the professors and administrators there are really striving for a solid balance between academic rigor and having a positive four-year experience. This was not, incidentally, my prior expectation: as a libertarian, more-or-less, I had a bit of a bias against state schools (of course, all of the elite schools in fact also get a huge amount of money from the government).

    Anyway, so our kids chose UCLA School of Engineering.

    (I'm avoiding going into all of the details of our kids' test scores, what schools they applied to and got into, etc. out of respect for their privacy.)

    Dave
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  137. Corvinus says:
    @PhysicistDave
    Corvinus wrote to me:

    Exactly. The students are to take his quote in context, think about its meaning, and then relate it back to information they learned in class. B is the correct answer.
     
    See... just as I predicted. Which is how I got a 4 on APUSH by BSing my way through the entire test without doing any prepping at all.

    Corvinus also wrote:


    No. His speech was a “trial balloon”, intended to gauge the American citizen interest in this matter. FDR intended to influence Great Britain and France to reduce the spread of violence by Germany and Japan. He was of the mindset that because nations are dependent upon one another, they could not turn a “blind eye” to clear violations of republican principles. Otherwise, he concluded, their “hand in the sand approach” would ultimately impact their own political and economic stability.
     
    Indeed: you and I of course agree that that was what FDR was up to.

    Corvinus also wrote:


    He certainly made the implication, and the American people responded with a resounding “No”.
     
    Did they? Certainly the intelligent ones saw through his scheming. But is there any evidence that the so-called "quarantine speech" met with massive public opposition? I do not recall that.

    Corvinus also wrote:


    However, with the Fall of Poland in 1939 and the Fall of France in 1940, his words were prescient.
     
    Well... by refusing to arrange for some reasonable solution to the Danzig problem, the Poles recklessly gave Hitler the excuse he needed to destroy their country. And, then, Britain and France, supposedly to protect the heroic (foolish) Poles went to war against Germany, although their real reason was to maintain the "balance of power" -- i.e., Anglo-French dominance around the world, especially their colonial empires. If Hitler had had any sense, he would have focused some attention on inciting colonial rebellions against the Western imperialist powers, but I suppose his racial idiocy prevented that.

    And, still, the American people did not want to go to war.

    It took the attack on Pearl to change American public opinion, and, of course, on November 25, 1941, FDR told his inner circle (according to Stimson's diary) that FDR


    brought up the event that we were likely to be attacked perhaps next Monday [December 1], for the Japanese are notorious for making an attack without warning, and the question was what we should do. The question was how we should maneuver them into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.
     
    Anyone following FDR's policies (e.g., the Hull note) could have made that prediction: it hardly required FDR to be "prescient."

    Please note: I have no idea if FDR himself had any idea as to where the Japanese would attack. But, that his policies were inevitably leading to war was obvious to informed observers.

    Personally, I view both FDR and Churchill as evil mass murderers, not as bad as Stalin or Hitler, of course, but perhaps worse than Mussolini.

    But, that is not really relevant to the question: the quote from FDR, taken seriously, sounds as if it is just a call for moral suasion. You and I know that he was a pathological liar, and we also know the later history, so we can guess that his real thoughts were that he was really going to take the nation to war. But the passage does not say that.

    The "official" answer is wrong in terms of what the passage actually does say.

    Again, I figured out the wrong but official answer because I am really, really good at seeing through the snarky jerks who make up tests like this.

    But, even though I can out-smart them, they are still snarky jerks.

    Corvinus also wrote:


    You are in serious error here. I suggest you go to their website and learn more about their testing process, as you displaying ignorance.
     
    Oh, I did that a long, long time ago: they are still snarky jerks.

    Dave

    “See… just as I predicted. Which is how I got a 4 on APUSH by BSing my way through the entire test without doing any prepping at all.”

    You don’t merely “BS” your way to a 4 through the old holistic grading process without prepping. Look at who is being snarky here.

    “Did they? Certainly the intelligent ones saw through his scheming. But is there any evidence that the so-called “quarantine speech” met with massive public opposition? I do not recall that.”

    There was not any “scheming”. It was a reaction to world events, one that FDR realized would eventually lead to American involvement in some way, shape, or form. The speech intensified America’s isolationist mood in large part because the United States was still in the midst of a Great Depression.

    “Well… by refusing to arrange for some reasonable solution to the Danzig problem, the Poles recklessly gave Hitler the excuse he needed to destroy their country.”

    The Poles were other than reckless. They were exercising their right to self-determination in the aftermath of World War I. Consider that the area was majority Poles who did not want to remain under the control of Prussia, had generally treated the Polish population and other minorities as second-class citizens. Moreover, without direct access to the Baltic Sea, Poland contended that it would be economically weakened by high German tariffs.

    “And, then, Britain and France, supposedly to protect the heroic (foolish) Poles went to war against Germany, although their real reason was to maintain the “balance of power” — i.e., Anglo-French dominance around the world, especially their colonial empires.”

    Great Britain and France realized they had been bamboozled when they caved in at Munich in 1934 by allowing Germany to assume control of the Sudetenland in exchange for peace. These two nations had every right to assist their fellow European brethren from a vicious assault on their own liberty.

    “Please note: I have no idea if FDR himself had any idea as to where the Japanese would attack. But, that his policies were inevitably leading to war was obvious to informed observers.”

    Aggression by Germany and Japan drew us into war. As a result, America sought ways to assist their allies.

    “Personally, I view both FDR and Churchill as evil mass murderers, not as bad as Stalin or Hitler, of course, but perhaps worse than Mussolini.”

    You would be in the minority with that opinion.

    “You and I know that he was a pathological liar…”

    No, we do not. You can assume, of course.

    “and we also know the later history, so we can guess that his real thoughts were that he was really going to take the nation to war.”

    His “real thoughts” were to protect American interests against German, Italian, and Japanese invasions against free peoples for raw materials.

    “Again, I figured out the wrong but official answer because I am really, really good at seeing through the snarky jerks who make up tests like this.”

    Thank you very much for your opinion on this matter.

    Read More
    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    Corvinus wrote to me:

    You don’t merely “BS” your way to a 4 through the old holistic grading process without prepping.
     
    Well, I did. Not a single minute of prepping. I still rmember BSing my way through two of the "essay" questions, one about the crash of 1893 and the other about the migration of African-Americans to Northern cities, two topics on which my actual knowledge was close to nil.

    I was already admitted to Caltech, and the AP test was just a lark for me to to see if I could quiz out of the frosh humanities requirement and take an upper-division course -- Caltech did not give any actual credits for the AP, just let you take a higher-division humanities course instead.

    Hence, I did not take the test seriously. Actually had fun on it. I realize I am one of the few students in America who enjoyed College Board tests, but I really did have fun trying to psych out the snarky test makers.

    Perhaps the fact that you are so sure that this is impossible shows something about you and the people you hang with vs. me and the people I hang with.

    Please note: I said above that, despite having a Ph.D. in physics, I do not believe that I could get a 5 on the AP Physics C unless I prepped for it.

    But I did get a 4 on APUSH with absolutely zero prepping. I did not even know back then how I could have prepped: AP tests were not a big thing back then, and if prep books existed, I was certainly not aware of them. As I said earlier, our high school had zero AP classes, and the idea of AP tests was not really on my radar at all until Caltech suggested I could take a higher-division humanities class by doing well on an AP test.


    Dave
    , @Opinionator
    The Sudetenland was majority German. The Germans were exercising their right of self-determination.
    , @PhysicistDave
    Corvinus wrote to me:

    Great Britain and France realized they had been bamboozled when they caved in at Munich in 1934 by allowing Germany to assume control of the Sudetenland in exchange for peace.
     
    1934?????

    I hope this is a sign of the quality of your typing rather than a sign of your knowledge of history, Corvinus!
    , @PhysicistDave
    Corvinus wrote to me:

    The Poles were other than reckless. They were exercising their right to self-determination in the aftermath of World War I.
     
    And the way in which they exercised their right of self-determination was obviously, manifestly extremely reckless! It led to the destruction of their country.

    Look: I am aware that Hitler was a lying, manipulative, evil mass murderer. But, if the Poles had agreed to some reasonable compromise giving access to Danzig through the Corridor, they would have deprived Hitler of the plausible excuse he had for attacking Poland. Perhaps it would only have been a delay, but at least they could have staved off the disaster for a time.

    It is reckless to stand one's ground without any defense at all against a ravenous lion, even if you are right and the lion is wrong. Poland had zero chance against Germany, especially given that Germany was then allied with the Soviet Union. The Poles paid dearly for nearly five decades for the foolish decision their leaders made in 1939. Yeah, my sympathies are with the Poles and against the Nazis and Soviets, but Western sympathy did nothing to save the Poles.

    To the degree that the Western Allies gave the Poles false hope of Western aid and support, the Allies contributed to the destruction of Poland.

    Corvinus also wrote:

    These two nations [Britain and France] had every right to assist their fellow European brethren from a vicious assault on their own liberty.
     
    But they didn't. Britain and France did nothing to "assist" Poland at all. Not at all. And at the end of the war, the Allies cheerfully acceded to the Soviet conquest of Poland.

    The claim that the Allies went to war to save Poland was merely a propaganda lie. They made no effort to save Poland, and of course they could not save Poland. Any promise they gave Poland of standing by it in its confrontation with Hitler was a lie that helped lure the Poles into disaster.

    Corvy also wrote:

    His [FDR's] “real thoughts” were to protect American interests against German, Italian, and Japanese invasions against free peoples for raw materials.
     
    Oh, yeah -- like the "free peoples" slaughtered by the US government in the Philippines (read Stuart Creighton Miller's Benevolent Assimilation: The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903 about the atrocities and war crimes committed by the US in the Philippines -- if you have a really strong stomach). Or the "free peoples" enslaved and slaughtered by the Belgians in the Congo. Or the lovely way that the Brits and the French treated the "natives" all around the world.

    You neocons are all the same, aren't you , Corvinus?

    You're a racist, Corvinus, always ready to forgive how your pals and political soul-mates, monsters like T. Roosevelt, FDR, Churchill, and all the rest, have murdered innocent people around the world, as long as the victims are not white.

    You really are a truly contemptible, despicable neocon racist.

    I want to know one thing, Corvinus: can you look yourself in the mirror in the morning?
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  138. @ColRebSez
    A lot of people question just how much college credit students can (or actually do) earn through AP classes. The answer is quite a lot. All but the most elite schools accept them, although some require a 5. Here's a link to the University of Alabama credit by examination page: https://catalog.ua.edu/undergraduate/about/academic-regulations/policies/credit-by-examination/

    It's not uncommon for students to take six or eight AP classes over their last three years of high school; some of these offer four to six hours of credit. I would guess that about 20 out of 240 kids in my son's graduating class passed five or more AP classes. My son started university with something like 32 hours from AP credit plus another 35 from dual enrollment, so he enrolls as a freshman and will be a junior his second semester. His ACT-based scholarship at Alabama (32-plus, next year rising to 33-plus gets free tuition) is good for eight semesters, so he can get two masters degrees should he be so inclined, or do a lot of foreign study.

    You can put a pencil to it and figure out that taking and passing AP courses can save a family quite a bit of money. And although dual enrollment does cost (for us it was half tuition), it's still cheaper for them to earn the college credits without having to pay their room, board, beer, and social fees.

    Changing the subject, but although dual enrollment only makes sense if you live in or near a university town, it was really helpful for me to be able to advise my son on his first college classes, including for example the group project, where I told him that it was almost a certainty that one of the team members would fail to produce their work for some reason and that he would need to have a contingency plan. When it happened he was somewhat prepared. He took one incredibly difficult business class, and I felt he was better off taking it while living at home under my watchful eye than as a freshman dealing with pledging and partying. I would recommend it to any parent; the only downside is that only attending three classes a day at the high school and then going over to the university pretty much removes one from high school life.

    A woman from South Central Los Angeles took community college classes during high school that did not count toward her high school graduation credits. When she went to Stanford, the university applied those community college classes toward her undergraduate degree. She earned a bachelor’s in African American Studies in three years and a master’s in Education her senior year.

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    • LOL: Carneades
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  139. @Corvinus
    "See… just as I predicted. Which is how I got a 4 on APUSH by BSing my way through the entire test without doing any prepping at all."

    You don't merely "BS" your way to a 4 through the old holistic grading process without prepping. Look at who is being snarky here.

    "Did they? Certainly the intelligent ones saw through his scheming. But is there any evidence that the so-called “quarantine speech” met with massive public opposition? I do not recall that."

    There was not any "scheming". It was a reaction to world events, one that FDR realized would eventually lead to American involvement in some way, shape, or form. The speech intensified America's isolationist mood in large part because the United States was still in the midst of a Great Depression.

    "Well… by refusing to arrange for some reasonable solution to the Danzig problem, the Poles recklessly gave Hitler the excuse he needed to destroy their country."

    The Poles were other than reckless. They were exercising their right to self-determination in the aftermath of World War I. Consider that the area was majority Poles who did not want to remain under the control of Prussia, had generally treated the Polish population and other minorities as second-class citizens. Moreover, without direct access to the Baltic Sea, Poland contended that it would be economically weakened by high German tariffs.

    "And, then, Britain and France, supposedly to protect the heroic (foolish) Poles went to war against Germany, although their real reason was to maintain the “balance of power” — i.e., Anglo-French dominance around the world, especially their colonial empires."

    Great Britain and France realized they had been bamboozled when they caved in at Munich in 1934 by allowing Germany to assume control of the Sudetenland in exchange for peace. These two nations had every right to assist their fellow European brethren from a vicious assault on their own liberty.

    "Please note: I have no idea if FDR himself had any idea as to where the Japanese would attack. But, that his policies were inevitably leading to war was obvious to informed observers."

    Aggression by Germany and Japan drew us into war. As a result, America sought ways to assist their allies.

    "Personally, I view both FDR and Churchill as evil mass murderers, not as bad as Stalin or Hitler, of course, but perhaps worse than Mussolini."

    You would be in the minority with that opinion.

    "You and I know that he was a pathological liar..."

    No, we do not. You can assume, of course.

    "and we also know the later history, so we can guess that his real thoughts were that he was really going to take the nation to war."

    His "real thoughts" were to protect American interests against German, Italian, and Japanese invasions against free peoples for raw materials.

    "Again, I figured out the wrong but official answer because I am really, really good at seeing through the snarky jerks who make up tests like this."

    Thank you very much for your opinion on this matter.

    Corvinus wrote to me:

    You don’t merely “BS” your way to a 4 through the old holistic grading process without prepping.

    Well, I did. Not a single minute of prepping. I still rmember BSing my way through two of the “essay” questions, one about the crash of 1893 and the other about the migration of African-Americans to Northern cities, two topics on which my actual knowledge was close to nil.

    I was already admitted to Caltech, and the AP test was just a lark for me to to see if I could quiz out of the frosh humanities requirement and take an upper-division course — Caltech did not give any actual credits for the AP, just let you take a higher-division humanities course instead.

    Hence, I did not take the test seriously. Actually had fun on it. I realize I am one of the few students in America who enjoyed College Board tests, but I really did have fun trying to psych out the snarky test makers.

    Perhaps the fact that you are so sure that this is impossible shows something about you and the people you hang with vs. me and the people I hang with.

    Please note: I said above that, despite having a Ph.D. in physics, I do not believe that I could get a 5 on the AP Physics C unless I prepped for it.

    But I did get a 4 on APUSH with absolutely zero prepping. I did not even know back then how I could have prepped: AP tests were not a big thing back then, and if prep books existed, I was certainly not aware of them. As I said earlier, our high school had zero AP classes, and the idea of AP tests was not really on my radar at all until Caltech suggested I could take a higher-division humanities class by doing well on an AP test.

    Dave

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    • Replies: @Corvinus
    "Well, I did. Not a single minute of prepping. I still rmember BSing my way through two of the “essay” questions, one about the crash of 1893 and the other about the migration of African-Americans to Northern cities, two topics on which my actual knowledge was close to nil."

    So what year were those exact questions administered? You seem to have direct knowledge of the exact subject material tested, surely you would remember when you took it.

    "I realize I am one of the few students in America who enjoyed College Board tests, but I really did have fun trying to psych out the snarky test makers."

    Petty.

    "Perhaps the fact that you are so sure that this is impossible shows something about you and the people you hang with vs. me and the people I hang with.

    I never said it was impossible. I'm just questioning whether you are being accurate.

    "But I did get a 4 on APUSH with absolutely zero prepping."

    So you say. So what year was it?
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  140. @res
    Thanks for your response! So I take it that was the norm for Caltech tests? Ouch! I had a slightly less dramatic example of that with an upperclass E&M theory class test (I was horrified immediately afterwards and at my results until I found out the class average was in the 20s, mine wasn't the top result but was +2SD IIRC) but that was not the norm. I think we had "moderately straightforward extensions" on many tests, but I think most of the difficulty came from the sheer volume of at least somewhat difficult work that needed to be accomplished in limited time.

    The decision to go to a place like that can be difficult. Especially given that virtually everyone there was one of the best at their high school. If you don't mind my asking, what did you recommend and your kids choose for colleges to attend?

    P.S. Impressive results! Top GPA of perhaps the hardest major and university combo in the country. I am a smart guy by most people's standards, but there are some truly impressive people here.

    res wrote to me:

    If you don’t mind my asking, what did you recommend and your kids choose for colleges to attend?

    UCLA School of Engineering for both. The schools they were most seriously considering were MIT, Stanford, and UCLA.

    MIT is similar to Caltech in being inhumanly rigorous: my impression from various sources is that engineering classes today at MIT may be even tougher than Caltech. MIT does, however, seem to be a more supportive environment than Caltech, and MIT students seem to be substantially saner (of course still a bit eccentric) than Caltech students.

    Stanford is, of course, one of the most prestigious STEM schools in the country; however, I myself feel that I made a bad decision in doing my Ph.D. at Stanford. Without going into details, I’ll just say that the recent Ziad Ahmed scandal does not surprise me that much.

    When we visited UCLA School of Engineering, we found it among the academically strongest and most welcoming of the schools we visited: I think the professors and administrators there are really striving for a solid balance between academic rigor and having a positive four-year experience. This was not, incidentally, my prior expectation: as a libertarian, more-or-less, I had a bit of a bias against state schools (of course, all of the elite schools in fact also get a huge amount of money from the government).

    Anyway, so our kids chose UCLA School of Engineering.

    (I’m avoiding going into all of the details of our kids’ test scores, what schools they applied to and got into, etc. out of respect for their privacy.)

    Dave

    Read More
    • Replies: @cthulhu
    Did you look at Cal Poly SLO? I work with a lot of SLO grads, and they are uniformly very sharp and prepared and the school seems to have a more practical bent than some of the UCs. Sort of like Purdue compared to MIT. And such a bargain money-wise for in-state students. If my kids had wanted to go into engineering, that would have been my first recommendation (and has been among several co-workers).
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  141. Anon says: • Disclaimer
    @Corvinus
    "The score distribution you site neither disproves nor proves Steve’s thesis."

    Again, AP tests are more than rote memory. They also measure skills.

    "In the end, practically every test, especially multiple choice tests, is really a test of g (intelligence) to a great extent so if your g is high you can ace almost any test whether it is on pastry making technique or Chinese history."

    A person can "ace" a test so long as they had achieved a thorough understanding of both the content and skills.

    Obviously they test skills (mostly critical thinking), which is why you can cram for a week and pass if you’re good at test-taking, which is exactly what JackD said.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Corvinus
    "Obviously they test skills (mostly critical thinking), which is why you can cram for a week and pass if you’re good at test-taking, which is exactly what JackD said."

    Depends upon how much prior knowledge one has, as well as their skill level in writing analytical essays. You seem to believe that good at test taking + cramming = success. That is not necessarily true.

    http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/cramming-for-a-test-don-t-do-it-237733

    http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140917-the-worst-way-to-learn
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  142. Corvinus says:
    @PhysicistDave
    Corvinus wrote to me:

    You don’t merely “BS” your way to a 4 through the old holistic grading process without prepping.
     
    Well, I did. Not a single minute of prepping. I still rmember BSing my way through two of the "essay" questions, one about the crash of 1893 and the other about the migration of African-Americans to Northern cities, two topics on which my actual knowledge was close to nil.

    I was already admitted to Caltech, and the AP test was just a lark for me to to see if I could quiz out of the frosh humanities requirement and take an upper-division course -- Caltech did not give any actual credits for the AP, just let you take a higher-division humanities course instead.

    Hence, I did not take the test seriously. Actually had fun on it. I realize I am one of the few students in America who enjoyed College Board tests, but I really did have fun trying to psych out the snarky test makers.

    Perhaps the fact that you are so sure that this is impossible shows something about you and the people you hang with vs. me and the people I hang with.

    Please note: I said above that, despite having a Ph.D. in physics, I do not believe that I could get a 5 on the AP Physics C unless I prepped for it.

    But I did get a 4 on APUSH with absolutely zero prepping. I did not even know back then how I could have prepped: AP tests were not a big thing back then, and if prep books existed, I was certainly not aware of them. As I said earlier, our high school had zero AP classes, and the idea of AP tests was not really on my radar at all until Caltech suggested I could take a higher-division humanities class by doing well on an AP test.


    Dave

    “Well, I did. Not a single minute of prepping. I still rmember BSing my way through two of the “essay” questions, one about the crash of 1893 and the other about the migration of African-Americans to Northern cities, two topics on which my actual knowledge was close to nil.”

    So what year were those exact questions administered? You seem to have direct knowledge of the exact subject material tested, surely you would remember when you took it.

    “I realize I am one of the few students in America who enjoyed College Board tests, but I really did have fun trying to psych out the snarky test makers.”

    Petty.

    “Perhaps the fact that you are so sure that this is impossible shows something about you and the people you hang with vs. me and the people I hang with.

    I never said it was impossible. I’m just questioning whether you are being accurate.

    “But I did get a 4 on APUSH with absolutely zero prepping.”

    So you say. So what year was it?

    Read More
    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    Corvinus wrote to me:

    So what year were those exact questions administered? You seem to have direct knowledge of the exact subject material tested, surely you would remember when you took it.
     
    Of course. It was ancient times, spring of 1972.

    And, if I have somehow violated some College Board rule by revealing test questions from forty-five years ago, quite frankly I don't give a damn. If the College Board can't manage to come up with new questions after forty-five years, that's their fault. (I certainly did not agree to refrain from posting the questions on the Internet back in 1972!)

    I remember it so well, because I thought it was extremely funny that I could get a 4 without knowing the material.

    Do you have some sort of secret access to AP test questions from ancient times, Corvinus? If so, by all means, check on my score!

    Dave
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  143. Corvinus says:
    @Anon
    Obviously they test skills (mostly critical thinking), which is why you can cram for a week and pass if you're good at test-taking, which is exactly what JackD said.

    “Obviously they test skills (mostly critical thinking), which is why you can cram for a week and pass if you’re good at test-taking, which is exactly what JackD said.”

    Depends upon how much prior knowledge one has, as well as their skill level in writing analytical essays. You seem to believe that good at test taking + cramming = success. That is not necessarily true.

    http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/cramming-for-a-test-don-t-do-it-237733

    http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140917-the-worst-way-to-learn

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anon
    We're not talking about tests in general, but about AP World History. See comment #126.
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  144. cthulhu says:
    @PhysicistDave
    res wrote to me:

    If you don’t mind my asking, what did you recommend and your kids choose for colleges to attend?
     
    UCLA School of Engineering for both. The schools they were most seriously considering were MIT, Stanford, and UCLA.

    MIT is similar to Caltech in being inhumanly rigorous: my impression from various sources is that engineering classes today at MIT may be even tougher than Caltech. MIT does, however, seem to be a more supportive environment than Caltech, and MIT students seem to be substantially saner (of course still a bit eccentric) than Caltech students.

    Stanford is, of course, one of the most prestigious STEM schools in the country; however, I myself feel that I made a bad decision in doing my Ph.D. at Stanford. Without going into details, I'll just say that the recent Ziad Ahmed scandal does not surprise me that much.

    When we visited UCLA School of Engineering, we found it among the academically strongest and most welcoming of the schools we visited: I think the professors and administrators there are really striving for a solid balance between academic rigor and having a positive four-year experience. This was not, incidentally, my prior expectation: as a libertarian, more-or-less, I had a bit of a bias against state schools (of course, all of the elite schools in fact also get a huge amount of money from the government).

    Anyway, so our kids chose UCLA School of Engineering.

    (I'm avoiding going into all of the details of our kids' test scores, what schools they applied to and got into, etc. out of respect for their privacy.)

    Dave

    Did you look at Cal Poly SLO? I work with a lot of SLO grads, and they are uniformly very sharp and prepared and the school seems to have a more practical bent than some of the UCs. Sort of like Purdue compared to MIT. And such a bargain money-wise for in-state students. If my kids had wanted to go into engineering, that would have been my first recommendation (and has been among several co-workers).

    Read More
    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    cthulhu wrote to me:

    Did you look at Cal Poly SLO?
     
    Yes, they just preferred UCLA. I will say that some of the undergrad engineers from SLO called my kids urging them to come -- the students who called our kids were certainly very nice people.

    SLO is certainly a good school, and I told our kids that I thought they would be happy at SLO and get a good education there. But, on balance, they thought UCLA was better.

    Dave
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  145. @PhysicistDave
    Corvinus wrote to me:

    Exactly. The students are to take his quote in context, think about its meaning, and then relate it back to information they learned in class. B is the correct answer.
     
    See... just as I predicted. Which is how I got a 4 on APUSH by BSing my way through the entire test without doing any prepping at all.

    Corvinus also wrote:


    No. His speech was a “trial balloon”, intended to gauge the American citizen interest in this matter. FDR intended to influence Great Britain and France to reduce the spread of violence by Germany and Japan. He was of the mindset that because nations are dependent upon one another, they could not turn a “blind eye” to clear violations of republican principles. Otherwise, he concluded, their “hand in the sand approach” would ultimately impact their own political and economic stability.
     
    Indeed: you and I of course agree that that was what FDR was up to.

    Corvinus also wrote:


    He certainly made the implication, and the American people responded with a resounding “No”.
     
    Did they? Certainly the intelligent ones saw through his scheming. But is there any evidence that the so-called "quarantine speech" met with massive public opposition? I do not recall that.

    Corvinus also wrote:


    However, with the Fall of Poland in 1939 and the Fall of France in 1940, his words were prescient.
     
    Well... by refusing to arrange for some reasonable solution to the Danzig problem, the Poles recklessly gave Hitler the excuse he needed to destroy their country. And, then, Britain and France, supposedly to protect the heroic (foolish) Poles went to war against Germany, although their real reason was to maintain the "balance of power" -- i.e., Anglo-French dominance around the world, especially their colonial empires. If Hitler had had any sense, he would have focused some attention on inciting colonial rebellions against the Western imperialist powers, but I suppose his racial idiocy prevented that.

    And, still, the American people did not want to go to war.

    It took the attack on Pearl to change American public opinion, and, of course, on November 25, 1941, FDR told his inner circle (according to Stimson's diary) that FDR


    brought up the event that we were likely to be attacked perhaps next Monday [December 1], for the Japanese are notorious for making an attack without warning, and the question was what we should do. The question was how we should maneuver them into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.
     
    Anyone following FDR's policies (e.g., the Hull note) could have made that prediction: it hardly required FDR to be "prescient."

    Please note: I have no idea if FDR himself had any idea as to where the Japanese would attack. But, that his policies were inevitably leading to war was obvious to informed observers.

    Personally, I view both FDR and Churchill as evil mass murderers, not as bad as Stalin or Hitler, of course, but perhaps worse than Mussolini.

    But, that is not really relevant to the question: the quote from FDR, taken seriously, sounds as if it is just a call for moral suasion. You and I know that he was a pathological liar, and we also know the later history, so we can guess that his real thoughts were that he was really going to take the nation to war. But the passage does not say that.

    The "official" answer is wrong in terms of what the passage actually does say.

    Again, I figured out the wrong but official answer because I am really, really good at seeing through the snarky jerks who make up tests like this.

    But, even though I can out-smart them, they are still snarky jerks.

    Corvinus also wrote:


    You are in serious error here. I suggest you go to their website and learn more about their testing process, as you displaying ignorance.
     
    Oh, I did that a long, long time ago: they are still snarky jerks.

    Dave

    although their real reason was to maintain the “balance of power” — i.e., Anglo-French dominance around the world, especially their colonial empires.

    Germany posed no threat to their colonial empires.

    Read More
    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    Opinionator wrote to me:

    Germany posed no threat to their colonial empires.
     
    Well, yes and no. I take your point that Germany was not exactly on the verge of conquering India or Indochina.

    On the other hand, since "France" more or less ceased to exist, at least as an independent state (Vichy sort of pretended to be independent), it is not clear that the French empire could have continued in existence in any real sense if France continued to be occupied long-term by Germany. And, the German defeat of France certainly did facilitate the Japanese conquest of Indochina.

    Over the long term, could Britain and France have held on to most of their empires if Germany had emerged as the unchallenged hegemon in Europe? Seems doubtful to me and I bet it seemed doubtful to French and British elites at the time.

    But, in the short term, at least as long as Germany was bogged down in Russia, yes, I agree that Germany could hardly launch serious military attacks on India or Indochina.

    Dave
    , @Opinionator
    I read your post as asserting a justification for Britain's and France's aggression against Germany--namely that it was somehow necessary or reasonable in order to protect their colonies.

    What I have read in this area, which is admittedly probably less than you have, does not suggest Germany had any real designs on said colonies. Germany wanted a more secure position in Central Europe, and it was willing to accommodate Britain in order to have that. Probabky France as well. See Pat Buchanan's "The Unnecessary War."

    The history you yourself adduce by way of evidence is consistent with that view.

    On the other hand, since “France” more or less ceased to exist, at least as an independent state (Vichy sort of pretended to be independent), it is not clear that the French empire could have continued in existence in any real sense if France continued to be occupied long-term by Germany. And, the German defeat of France certainly did facilitate the Japanese conquest of Indochina.

    As a result of France's declaring war on Germany, rather than making peace with her.

    Over the long term, could Britain and France have held on to most of their empires if Germany had emerged as the unchallenged hegemon in Europe? Seems doubtful to me and I bet it seemed doubtful to French and British elites at the time.

    Evidence suggests that Germany was willing to accept the existence of France and Britain and its colonies. Hitler wanted peace with England.
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  146. @Corvinus
    "See… just as I predicted. Which is how I got a 4 on APUSH by BSing my way through the entire test without doing any prepping at all."

    You don't merely "BS" your way to a 4 through the old holistic grading process without prepping. Look at who is being snarky here.

    "Did they? Certainly the intelligent ones saw through his scheming. But is there any evidence that the so-called “quarantine speech” met with massive public opposition? I do not recall that."

    There was not any "scheming". It was a reaction to world events, one that FDR realized would eventually lead to American involvement in some way, shape, or form. The speech intensified America's isolationist mood in large part because the United States was still in the midst of a Great Depression.

    "Well… by refusing to arrange for some reasonable solution to the Danzig problem, the Poles recklessly gave Hitler the excuse he needed to destroy their country."

    The Poles were other than reckless. They were exercising their right to self-determination in the aftermath of World War I. Consider that the area was majority Poles who did not want to remain under the control of Prussia, had generally treated the Polish population and other minorities as second-class citizens. Moreover, without direct access to the Baltic Sea, Poland contended that it would be economically weakened by high German tariffs.

    "And, then, Britain and France, supposedly to protect the heroic (foolish) Poles went to war against Germany, although their real reason was to maintain the “balance of power” — i.e., Anglo-French dominance around the world, especially their colonial empires."

    Great Britain and France realized they had been bamboozled when they caved in at Munich in 1934 by allowing Germany to assume control of the Sudetenland in exchange for peace. These two nations had every right to assist their fellow European brethren from a vicious assault on their own liberty.

    "Please note: I have no idea if FDR himself had any idea as to where the Japanese would attack. But, that his policies were inevitably leading to war was obvious to informed observers."

    Aggression by Germany and Japan drew us into war. As a result, America sought ways to assist their allies.

    "Personally, I view both FDR and Churchill as evil mass murderers, not as bad as Stalin or Hitler, of course, but perhaps worse than Mussolini."

    You would be in the minority with that opinion.

    "You and I know that he was a pathological liar..."

    No, we do not. You can assume, of course.

    "and we also know the later history, so we can guess that his real thoughts were that he was really going to take the nation to war."

    His "real thoughts" were to protect American interests against German, Italian, and Japanese invasions against free peoples for raw materials.

    "Again, I figured out the wrong but official answer because I am really, really good at seeing through the snarky jerks who make up tests like this."

    Thank you very much for your opinion on this matter.

    The Sudetenland was majority German. The Germans were exercising their right of self-determination.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Corvinus
    "The Sudetenland was majority German. The Germans were exercising their right of self-determination."

    Which was under the jurisdiction of Czechoslovakia, whose interests were other than represented at Munich.
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  147. @Corvinus
    "I can testify that there are many kids taking AP exams who never wanted to take either the course, the exam, or both."

    As a person who is also intimately involved in this process, my experiences are markedly different.

    Corvinus wrote to gnaderson:

    >[Ganderson]“I can testify that there are many kids taking AP exams who never wanted to take either the course, the exam, or both.”

    [Corvinus]As a person who is also intimately involved in this process, my experiences are markedly different.

    Well, Corvinus, since we homeschooled, my kids did not take any AP classes, though they did take several AP tests. On the other hand, I have heard lots of their friends discuss AP classes and tests, and what they say confirms Ganderson’s claims.

    Maybe the fact that you are somehow “intimately involved” in the system prevents you from having an outside view?

    Read More
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  148. @cthulhu
    Did you look at Cal Poly SLO? I work with a lot of SLO grads, and they are uniformly very sharp and prepared and the school seems to have a more practical bent than some of the UCs. Sort of like Purdue compared to MIT. And such a bargain money-wise for in-state students. If my kids had wanted to go into engineering, that would have been my first recommendation (and has been among several co-workers).

    cthulhu wrote to me:

    Did you look at Cal Poly SLO?

    Yes, they just preferred UCLA. I will say that some of the undergrad engineers from SLO called my kids urging them to come — the students who called our kids were certainly very nice people.

    SLO is certainly a good school, and I told our kids that I thought they would be happy at SLO and get a good education there. But, on balance, they thought UCLA was better.

    Dave

    Read More
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  149. @Corvinus
    "Well, I did. Not a single minute of prepping. I still rmember BSing my way through two of the “essay” questions, one about the crash of 1893 and the other about the migration of African-Americans to Northern cities, two topics on which my actual knowledge was close to nil."

    So what year were those exact questions administered? You seem to have direct knowledge of the exact subject material tested, surely you would remember when you took it.

    "I realize I am one of the few students in America who enjoyed College Board tests, but I really did have fun trying to psych out the snarky test makers."

    Petty.

    "Perhaps the fact that you are so sure that this is impossible shows something about you and the people you hang with vs. me and the people I hang with.

    I never said it was impossible. I'm just questioning whether you are being accurate.

    "But I did get a 4 on APUSH with absolutely zero prepping."

    So you say. So what year was it?

    Corvinus wrote to me:

    So what year were those exact questions administered? You seem to have direct knowledge of the exact subject material tested, surely you would remember when you took it.

    Of course. It was ancient times, spring of 1972.

    And, if I have somehow violated some College Board rule by revealing test questions from forty-five years ago, quite frankly I don’t give a damn. If the College Board can’t manage to come up with new questions after forty-five years, that’s their fault. (I certainly did not agree to refrain from posting the questions on the Internet back in 1972!)

    I remember it so well, because I thought it was extremely funny that I could get a 4 without knowing the material.

    Do you have some sort of secret access to AP test questions from ancient times, Corvinus? If so, by all means, check on my score!

    Dave

    Read More
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  150. @Opinionator
    although their real reason was to maintain the “balance of power” — i.e., Anglo-French dominance around the world, especially their colonial empires.

    Germany posed no threat to their colonial empires.

    Opinionator wrote to me:

    Germany posed no threat to their colonial empires.

    Well, yes and no. I take your point that Germany was not exactly on the verge of conquering India or Indochina.

    On the other hand, since “France” more or less ceased to exist, at least as an independent state (Vichy sort of pretended to be independent), it is not clear that the French empire could have continued in existence in any real sense if France continued to be occupied long-term by Germany. And, the German defeat of France certainly did facilitate the Japanese conquest of Indochina.

    Over the long term, could Britain and France have held on to most of their empires if Germany had emerged as the unchallenged hegemon in Europe? Seems doubtful to me and I bet it seemed doubtful to French and British elites at the time.

    But, in the short term, at least as long as Germany was bogged down in Russia, yes, I agree that Germany could hardly launch serious military attacks on India or Indochina.

    Dave

    Read More
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  151. @Corvinus
    "See… just as I predicted. Which is how I got a 4 on APUSH by BSing my way through the entire test without doing any prepping at all."

    You don't merely "BS" your way to a 4 through the old holistic grading process without prepping. Look at who is being snarky here.

    "Did they? Certainly the intelligent ones saw through his scheming. But is there any evidence that the so-called “quarantine speech” met with massive public opposition? I do not recall that."

    There was not any "scheming". It was a reaction to world events, one that FDR realized would eventually lead to American involvement in some way, shape, or form. The speech intensified America's isolationist mood in large part because the United States was still in the midst of a Great Depression.

    "Well… by refusing to arrange for some reasonable solution to the Danzig problem, the Poles recklessly gave Hitler the excuse he needed to destroy their country."

    The Poles were other than reckless. They were exercising their right to self-determination in the aftermath of World War I. Consider that the area was majority Poles who did not want to remain under the control of Prussia, had generally treated the Polish population and other minorities as second-class citizens. Moreover, without direct access to the Baltic Sea, Poland contended that it would be economically weakened by high German tariffs.

    "And, then, Britain and France, supposedly to protect the heroic (foolish) Poles went to war against Germany, although their real reason was to maintain the “balance of power” — i.e., Anglo-French dominance around the world, especially their colonial empires."

    Great Britain and France realized they had been bamboozled when they caved in at Munich in 1934 by allowing Germany to assume control of the Sudetenland in exchange for peace. These two nations had every right to assist their fellow European brethren from a vicious assault on their own liberty.

    "Please note: I have no idea if FDR himself had any idea as to where the Japanese would attack. But, that his policies were inevitably leading to war was obvious to informed observers."

    Aggression by Germany and Japan drew us into war. As a result, America sought ways to assist their allies.

    "Personally, I view both FDR and Churchill as evil mass murderers, not as bad as Stalin or Hitler, of course, but perhaps worse than Mussolini."

    You would be in the minority with that opinion.

    "You and I know that he was a pathological liar..."

    No, we do not. You can assume, of course.

    "and we also know the later history, so we can guess that his real thoughts were that he was really going to take the nation to war."

    His "real thoughts" were to protect American interests against German, Italian, and Japanese invasions against free peoples for raw materials.

    "Again, I figured out the wrong but official answer because I am really, really good at seeing through the snarky jerks who make up tests like this."

    Thank you very much for your opinion on this matter.

    Corvinus wrote to me:

    Great Britain and France realized they had been bamboozled when they caved in at Munich in 1934 by allowing Germany to assume control of the Sudetenland in exchange for peace.

    1934?????

    I hope this is a sign of the quality of your typing rather than a sign of your knowledge of history, Corvinus!

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  152. Corvinus says:
    @Opinionator
    The Sudetenland was majority German. The Germans were exercising their right of self-determination.

    “The Sudetenland was majority German. The Germans were exercising their right of self-determination.”

    Which was under the jurisdiction of Czechoslovakia, whose interests were other than represented at Munich.

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    • Replies: @Opinionator
    Right of self-determination though.
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  153. @Corvinus
    "The Sudetenland was majority German. The Germans were exercising their right of self-determination."

    Which was under the jurisdiction of Czechoslovakia, whose interests were other than represented at Munich.

    Right of self-determination though.

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    • Replies: @Corvinus
    "Right of self-determination though."

    At the expense of Czechoslovakian sovereignty. Germany intervened in what was an internal matter.
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  154. @Corvinus
    "See… just as I predicted. Which is how I got a 4 on APUSH by BSing my way through the entire test without doing any prepping at all."

    You don't merely "BS" your way to a 4 through the old holistic grading process without prepping. Look at who is being snarky here.

    "Did they? Certainly the intelligent ones saw through his scheming. But is there any evidence that the so-called “quarantine speech” met with massive public opposition? I do not recall that."

    There was not any "scheming". It was a reaction to world events, one that FDR realized would eventually lead to American involvement in some way, shape, or form. The speech intensified America's isolationist mood in large part because the United States was still in the midst of a Great Depression.

    "Well… by refusing to arrange for some reasonable solution to the Danzig problem, the Poles recklessly gave Hitler the excuse he needed to destroy their country."

    The Poles were other than reckless. They were exercising their right to self-determination in the aftermath of World War I. Consider that the area was majority Poles who did not want to remain under the control of Prussia, had generally treated the Polish population and other minorities as second-class citizens. Moreover, without direct access to the Baltic Sea, Poland contended that it would be economically weakened by high German tariffs.

    "And, then, Britain and France, supposedly to protect the heroic (foolish) Poles went to war against Germany, although their real reason was to maintain the “balance of power” — i.e., Anglo-French dominance around the world, especially their colonial empires."

    Great Britain and France realized they had been bamboozled when they caved in at Munich in 1934 by allowing Germany to assume control of the Sudetenland in exchange for peace. These two nations had every right to assist their fellow European brethren from a vicious assault on their own liberty.

    "Please note: I have no idea if FDR himself had any idea as to where the Japanese would attack. But, that his policies were inevitably leading to war was obvious to informed observers."

    Aggression by Germany and Japan drew us into war. As a result, America sought ways to assist their allies.

    "Personally, I view both FDR and Churchill as evil mass murderers, not as bad as Stalin or Hitler, of course, but perhaps worse than Mussolini."

    You would be in the minority with that opinion.

    "You and I know that he was a pathological liar..."

    No, we do not. You can assume, of course.

    "and we also know the later history, so we can guess that his real thoughts were that he was really going to take the nation to war."

    His "real thoughts" were to protect American interests against German, Italian, and Japanese invasions against free peoples for raw materials.

    "Again, I figured out the wrong but official answer because I am really, really good at seeing through the snarky jerks who make up tests like this."

    Thank you very much for your opinion on this matter.

    Corvinus wrote to me:

    The Poles were other than reckless. They were exercising their right to self-determination in the aftermath of World War I.

    And the way in which they exercised their right of self-determination was obviously, manifestly extremely reckless! It led to the destruction of their country.

    Look: I am aware that Hitler was a lying, manipulative, evil mass murderer. But, if the Poles had agreed to some reasonable compromise giving access to Danzig through the Corridor, they would have deprived Hitler of the plausible excuse he had for attacking Poland. Perhaps it would only have been a delay, but at least they could have staved off the disaster for a time.

    It is reckless to stand one’s ground without any defense at all against a ravenous lion, even if you are right and the lion is wrong. Poland had zero chance against Germany, especially given that Germany was then allied with the Soviet Union. The Poles paid dearly for nearly five decades for the foolish decision their leaders made in 1939. Yeah, my sympathies are with the Poles and against the Nazis and Soviets, but Western sympathy did nothing to save the Poles.

    To the degree that the Western Allies gave the Poles false hope of Western aid and support, the Allies contributed to the destruction of Poland.

    Corvinus also wrote:

    These two nations [Britain and France] had every right to assist their fellow European brethren from a vicious assault on their own liberty.

    But they didn’t. Britain and France did nothing to “assist” Poland at all. Not at all. And at the end of the war, the Allies cheerfully acceded to the Soviet conquest of Poland.

    The claim that the Allies went to war to save Poland was merely a propaganda lie. They made no effort to save Poland, and of course they could not save Poland. Any promise they gave Poland of standing by it in its confrontation with Hitler was a lie that helped lure the Poles into disaster.

    Corvy also wrote:

    His [FDR's] “real thoughts” were to protect American interests against German, Italian, and Japanese invasions against free peoples for raw materials.

    Oh, yeah — like the “free peoples” slaughtered by the US government in the Philippines (read Stuart Creighton Miller’s Benevolent Assimilation: The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903 about the atrocities and war crimes committed by the US in the Philippines — if you have a really strong stomach). Or the “free peoples” enslaved and slaughtered by the Belgians in the Congo. Or the lovely way that the Brits and the French treated the “natives” all around the world.

    You neocons are all the same, aren’t you , Corvinus?

    You’re a racist, Corvinus, always ready to forgive how your pals and political soul-mates, monsters like T. Roosevelt, FDR, Churchill, and all the rest, have murdered innocent people around the world, as long as the victims are not white.

    You really are a truly contemptible, despicable neocon racist.

    I want to know one thing, Corvinus: can you look yourself in the mirror in the morning?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Corvinus
    "And the way in which they exercised their right of self-determination was obviously, manifestly extremely reckless! It led to the destruction of their country."

    No, the Polish people at that time had every liberty to protect their national sovereignty, given the fact that the Germans. There actions were other than reckless. Germany was certainly unwilling to hand over an important urban area to "subhumans". There was a history of German dominance there politically and economically. Had they not secured that port city, the Polish would have been subject to harsh tolls for the right to access goods. Rather, they were afforded an opportunity to secure vital access to the sea. Hitler was hell bent on securing Poland as a buffer zone against future Russian aggression.

    "It is reckless to stand one’s ground without any defense at all against a ravenous lion, even if you are right and the lion is wrong. Poland had zero chance against Germany, especially given that Germany was then allied with the Soviet Union. The Poles paid dearly for nearly five decades for the foolish decision their leaders made in 1939. Yeah, my sympathies are with the Poles and against the Nazis and Soviets, but Western sympathy did nothing to save the Poles."

    Which is why the Polish and British had engaged in negotiations about future Polish protection and with the French stating they would invade Germany when it entered Polish territory. You must look at the context here, because you are simply benefitting from hindsight. There was fierce debate with Great Britain and France as far as the next step to the Hitler problem. They were experiencing major economic issues, they were ill-prepared for war, the citizens were clamoring to focus on their own internal problems, and Hitler's intentions were yet to be fully revealed. So while people today can say that Great Britain and France "sold out" Poland, there needs to be consideration as to the factors causing those two nations to not take direct military action. They could have pulled the trigger, but neglected to open fire. Again, context.

    "To the degree that the Western Allies gave the Poles false hope of Western aid and support, the Allies contributed to the destruction of Poland."

    With the majority of that contributions at the hands of Germany. Culpability on the part of Great Britain and France? Sure. But be accurate here--Germany was hell bent on taking over Poland regardless of outside intervention.

    "But they didn’t. Britain and France did nothing to “assist” Poland at all. Not at all. And at the end of the war, the Allies cheerfully acceded to the Soviet conquest of Poland."

    There was no "cheering" here, but dread and fear by the British and French.

    "The claim that the Allies went to war to save Poland was merely a propaganda lie. They made no effort to save Poland, and of course they could not save Poland. Any promise they gave Poland of standing by it in its confrontation with Hitler was a lie that helped lure the Poles into disaster."

    Thank you very much for your opinion on this matter.

    "Oh, yeah — like the “free peoples” slaughtered by the US government in the Philippines (read Stuart Creighton Miller’s Benevolent Assimilation: The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903 about the atrocities and war crimes committed by the US in the Philippines — if you have a really strong stomach). Or the “free peoples” enslaved and slaughtered by the Belgians in the Congo. Or the lovely way that the Brits and the French treated the “natives” all around the world."

    So you mean white people committed atrocities? How dare you admit those hate facts. Turn in your white card at the door, you race traitor.

    Listen, every nation has failed and will fail to live up to its own ideals. Human beings are a constructive and destructive lot.

    "You neocons are all the same, aren’t you , Corvinus?"

    [Laughs] Listen, get it right next time. It's anti-white, Churchian, neo-con Jew. I mean, seriously, the nerve of some people on a blog who forget to include all of the labels for someone merely because they oppose their positions. Again, get it right!

    "You’re a racist, Corvinus, always ready to forgive how your pals and political soul-mates, monsters like T. Roosevelt, FDR, Churchill, and all the rest, have murdered innocent people around the world, as long as the victims are not white."

    We are all racist and sexist and homophobic. Even you. Get use to it.

    "I want to know one thing, Corvinus: can you look yourself in the mirror in the morning?"

    Great. Try it sometime.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ldAQ6Rh5ZI

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  155. @Opinionator
    although their real reason was to maintain the “balance of power” — i.e., Anglo-French dominance around the world, especially their colonial empires.

    Germany posed no threat to their colonial empires.

    I read your post as asserting a justification for Britain’s and France’s aggression against Germany–namely that it was somehow necessary or reasonable in order to protect their colonies.

    What I have read in this area, which is admittedly probably less than you have, does not suggest Germany had any real designs on said colonies. Germany wanted a more secure position in Central Europe, and it was willing to accommodate Britain in order to have that. Probabky France as well. See Pat Buchanan’s “The Unnecessary War.”

    The history you yourself adduce by way of evidence is consistent with that view.

    On the other hand, since “France” more or less ceased to exist, at least as an independent state (Vichy sort of pretended to be independent), it is not clear that the French empire could have continued in existence in any real sense if France continued to be occupied long-term by Germany. And, the German defeat of France certainly did facilitate the Japanese conquest of Indochina.

    As a result of France’s declaring war on Germany, rather than making peace with her.

    Over the long term, could Britain and France have held on to most of their empires if Germany had emerged as the unchallenged hegemon in Europe? Seems doubtful to me and I bet it seemed doubtful to French and British elites at the time.

    Evidence suggests that Germany was willing to accept the existence of France and Britain and its colonies. Hitler wanted peace with England.

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    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    Opinionator commented to me:

    I read your post as asserting a justification for Britain’s and France’s aggression against Germany–namely that it was somehow necessary or reasonable in order to protect their colonies.

    What I have read in this area, which is admittedly probably less than you have, does not suggest Germany had any real designs on said colonies. Germany wanted a more secure position in Central Europe, and it was willing to accommodate Britain in order to have that. Probabky France as well. See Pat Buchanan’s “The Unnecessary War.”
     
    Yes, I think we are more or less in agreement.

    For the likes of Corvinus, I should probably make clear (again) that I hold no brief for the Axis Powers: I am of course appalled by the Holocaust, the rape of Nanjing, Mussolini's conquest of Ethiopia, and all the rest.

    But, like you, I think we must also tell the truth about what happened: the origins of the war are more complex that most people realize, and the motives of the Allies were far from innocent.

    To criticize the Allies is not to support the Axis. (Yes, I know you know this; I am making this point for Corvinus et al.)

    Dave
    , @Corvinus
    "Evidence suggests that Germany was willing to accept the existence of France and Britain and its colonies. Hitler wanted peace with England."

    Buchanan was ignorant about the aggression of Imperial Germany--it openly encouraged Muslims to wage war against Great Britain and France during World War 1; it engaged in genocide in German South-West Africa; it supported the Turks who committed genocide against Armenians.

    Buchanan was making the argument that Great Britain should have "stood down" and enabled Germany to conquer Eastern Europe, engage in a war with Russia, and let the combatants beat each other to death, in order to save Western Europe, which in essence condones the death of millions of people as "it's not our problem". The result? Western democracies left standing and being able to spread a "desired civilization".

    The fact remains there was a collision course between Great Britain/France and Germany, the result of territorial ambitions, the security for one's borders, and for the procurement of markets/natural resources. There is culpability on all sides, but ultimately Germany is responsible for causing World War II.
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  156. Corvinus says:
    @Opinionator
    Right of self-determination though.

    “Right of self-determination though.”

    At the expense of Czechoslovakian sovereignty. Germany intervened in what was an internal matter.

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  157. Corvinus says:
    @PhysicistDave
    Corvinus wrote to me:

    The Poles were other than reckless. They were exercising their right to self-determination in the aftermath of World War I.
     
    And the way in which they exercised their right of self-determination was obviously, manifestly extremely reckless! It led to the destruction of their country.

    Look: I am aware that Hitler was a lying, manipulative, evil mass murderer. But, if the Poles had agreed to some reasonable compromise giving access to Danzig through the Corridor, they would have deprived Hitler of the plausible excuse he had for attacking Poland. Perhaps it would only have been a delay, but at least they could have staved off the disaster for a time.

    It is reckless to stand one's ground without any defense at all against a ravenous lion, even if you are right and the lion is wrong. Poland had zero chance against Germany, especially given that Germany was then allied with the Soviet Union. The Poles paid dearly for nearly five decades for the foolish decision their leaders made in 1939. Yeah, my sympathies are with the Poles and against the Nazis and Soviets, but Western sympathy did nothing to save the Poles.

    To the degree that the Western Allies gave the Poles false hope of Western aid and support, the Allies contributed to the destruction of Poland.

    Corvinus also wrote:

    These two nations [Britain and France] had every right to assist their fellow European brethren from a vicious assault on their own liberty.
     
    But they didn't. Britain and France did nothing to "assist" Poland at all. Not at all. And at the end of the war, the Allies cheerfully acceded to the Soviet conquest of Poland.

    The claim that the Allies went to war to save Poland was merely a propaganda lie. They made no effort to save Poland, and of course they could not save Poland. Any promise they gave Poland of standing by it in its confrontation with Hitler was a lie that helped lure the Poles into disaster.

    Corvy also wrote:

    His [FDR's] “real thoughts” were to protect American interests against German, Italian, and Japanese invasions against free peoples for raw materials.
     
    Oh, yeah -- like the "free peoples" slaughtered by the US government in the Philippines (read Stuart Creighton Miller's Benevolent Assimilation: The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903 about the atrocities and war crimes committed by the US in the Philippines -- if you have a really strong stomach). Or the "free peoples" enslaved and slaughtered by the Belgians in the Congo. Or the lovely way that the Brits and the French treated the "natives" all around the world.

    You neocons are all the same, aren't you , Corvinus?

    You're a racist, Corvinus, always ready to forgive how your pals and political soul-mates, monsters like T. Roosevelt, FDR, Churchill, and all the rest, have murdered innocent people around the world, as long as the victims are not white.

    You really are a truly contemptible, despicable neocon racist.

    I want to know one thing, Corvinus: can you look yourself in the mirror in the morning?

    “And the way in which they exercised their right of self-determination was obviously, manifestly extremely reckless! It led to the destruction of their country.”

    No, the Polish people at that time had every liberty to protect their national sovereignty, given the fact that the Germans. There actions were other than reckless. Germany was certainly unwilling to hand over an important urban area to “subhumans”. There was a history of German dominance there politically and economically. Had they not secured that port city, the Polish would have been subject to harsh tolls for the right to access goods. Rather, they were afforded an opportunity to secure vital access to the sea. Hitler was hell bent on securing Poland as a buffer zone against future Russian aggression.

    “It is reckless to stand one’s ground without any defense at all against a ravenous lion, even if you are right and the lion is wrong. Poland had zero chance against Germany, especially given that Germany was then allied with the Soviet Union. The Poles paid dearly for nearly five decades for the foolish decision their leaders made in 1939. Yeah, my sympathies are with the Poles and against the Nazis and Soviets, but Western sympathy did nothing to save the Poles.”

    Which is why the Polish and British had engaged in negotiations about future Polish protection and with the French stating they would invade Germany when it entered Polish territory. You must look at the context here, because you are simply benefitting from hindsight. There was fierce debate with Great Britain and France as far as the next step to the Hitler problem. They were experiencing major economic issues, they were ill-prepared for war, the citizens were clamoring to focus on their own internal problems, and Hitler’s intentions were yet to be fully revealed. So while people today can say that Great Britain and France “sold out” Poland, there needs to be consideration as to the factors causing those two nations to not take direct military action. They could have pulled the trigger, but neglected to open fire. Again, context.

    “To the degree that the Western Allies gave the Poles false hope of Western aid and support, the Allies contributed to the destruction of Poland.”

    With the majority of that contributions at the hands of Germany. Culpability on the part of Great Britain and France? Sure. But be accurate here–Germany was hell bent on taking over Poland regardless of outside intervention.

    “But they didn’t. Britain and France did nothing to “assist” Poland at all. Not at all. And at the end of the war, the Allies cheerfully acceded to the Soviet conquest of Poland.”

    There was no “cheering” here, but dread and fear by the British and French.

    “The claim that the Allies went to war to save Poland was merely a propaganda lie. They made no effort to save Poland, and of course they could not save Poland. Any promise they gave Poland of standing by it in its confrontation with Hitler was a lie that helped lure the Poles into disaster.”

    Thank you very much for your opinion on this matter.

    “Oh, yeah — like the “free peoples” slaughtered by the US government in the Philippines (read Stuart Creighton Miller’s Benevolent Assimilation: The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903 about the atrocities and war crimes committed by the US in the Philippines — if you have a really strong stomach). Or the “free peoples” enslaved and slaughtered by the Belgians in the Congo. Or the lovely way that the Brits and the French treated the “natives” all around the world.”

    So you mean white people committed atrocities? How dare you admit those hate facts. Turn in your white card at the door, you race traitor.

    Listen, every nation has failed and will fail to live up to its own ideals. Human beings are a constructive and destructive lot.

    “You neocons are all the same, aren’t you , Corvinus?”

    [Laughs] Listen, get it right next time. It’s anti-white, Churchian, neo-con Jew. I mean, seriously, the nerve of some people on a blog who forget to include all of the labels for someone merely because they oppose their positions. Again, get it right!

    “You’re a racist, Corvinus, always ready to forgive how your pals and political soul-mates, monsters like T. Roosevelt, FDR, Churchill, and all the rest, have murdered innocent people around the world, as long as the victims are not white.”

    We are all racist and sexist and homophobic. Even you. Get use to it.

    “I want to know one thing, Corvinus: can you look yourself in the mirror in the morning?”

    Great. Try it sometime.

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    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    Corvinus wrote:

    No, the Polish people at that time had every liberty to protect their national sovereignty, given the fact that the Germans.[sic]
     
    That sentence does not make any sense, Corvy -- "given the fact that the Germans." You're losing it.

    I did not say the Poles did not have the right to protect their national sovereignty. I merely pointed out that they lacked the ability. Failing to reach a compromise with Germany led to absolute catastrophe for Poland for the next half century.

    Sure, in terms of Hitler vs. the Poles, my sympathy lies with the Poles. But, the action of the Polish leaders was suicidal. And, the French and British encouragement of this suicidal behavior was worse.

    And even you know that, Corvy.

    Corvy also wrote:

    So while people today can say that Great Britain and France “sold out” Poland, there needs to be consideration as to the factors causing those two nations to not take direct military action.
     
    Corvy, are you aware that the Soviets and Germans invaded Poland at the same time in the wake of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact? It was clear to anyone at that time that Britain and France could do nothing to protect the Poles from those two powers. This is not the advantage of hindsight: it was totally obvious.

    I did not say the Western powers "sold out" Poland: that would be far too kind. No, they callously encouraged the Poles to pursue a suicidal course.

    Corvy also wrote:

    There was no “cheering” here, but dread and fear by the British and French.
     
    Read about the various summits among the "Big Three" during WW II: yeah, they were in fact pretty cheerful about it all -- I can suggest some remedial reading if you wish. It was only well after the war that people like Churchill and Truman started to realize what they had done.

    Corvy also wrote:

    So you mean white people committed atrocities? How dare you admit those hate facts. Turn in your white card at the door, you race traitor.
     
    I am not a white nationalist, Corvy, despite your lying attempts to claim that anyone who comments here must be a white nationalist. I hold that all human beings are endowed with certain inalienable rights upon which no government can legitimately infringe. I realize that you are completely unacquainted with that concept.

    Corvy also wrote:

    Listen, every nation has failed and will fail to live up to its own ideals. Human beings are a constructive and destructive lot.
     
    But you claimed, ludicrously, that FDR took the US to war to protect "free peoples" when FDR allied himself with one of the greatest butchers in history, Stalin, with the brutal Chinese warlords, and with two of the more vicious imperialist powers in modern history, France and Britain.

    That is not merely a "failure to live up to its own ideals." That is intentionally taking the side of the bad guys.

    Most of the Allied powers were deeply and profoundly evil in terms of how they had treated innocent human beings.

    Corvy also wrote:

    Listen, get it right next time. It’s anti-white, Churchian, neo-con Jew.
     
    No, Corvy, you are not "anti-white": you are an evil, craven apologist for the white elites who have brought so much suffering and death to this planet during the last hundred years.

    You are an evil monster, just like FDR, Stalin, Hitler, Churchill, and all the rest.

    The problem with this world is not, as you seem to want people to say, "people of color." The problem with this world is the evil white elites who have brought such horrors to the human species.

    And you, Corvy, are their apologist.

    And, you know it.
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  158. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    Comments on your earlier article are closed, but I have the following responses:

    1. http://www.unz.com/isteve/atlantic-ap-classes-are-a-scam/#comment-1815871

    Just reread Red Planet for the gazillionth time and the remark by RAH about ‘nonprofits being a joke’ was prescient. Other than that, I worked at McK and know the Coleman type.

    2. Comment by Gregor about epsilon delta. FWIW, I took AP calc a decade before him and we did have epsilon delta. Not sure if it was a tougher AP or just the remnants of Cold War math emphasis (and being in Fairfax County). All that said, it doesn’t help you in physics or engineering. It’s a useless fetish this emphasis on baby real analysis in freshman calc courses.

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  159. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @PhysicistDave
    Steve wrote:

    In general, I’m pretty bullish on AP tests, and feel they should be given more weight in college admissions. They have advantages over high school grades (they’re nationally consistent) and advantages over SAT/ACT tests (if kids are going to prep endlessly for a test, they might as well learn something in the process).
     
    Unfortunately, the way the College Board makes sure the scoring is "nationally consistent" is the source of a lot of the problems with the AP system.

    My kids have taken a number of AP tests over the last few years, and, since we are homeschooling, I was much more involved in the prep process than most parents.

    The most ludicrous aspect of the APs is the supposed "essay questions" on non-STEM tests. To ensure national consistency, the College Board reportedly has a fixed list of points you are supposed to mention in the essay. Bizarrely, no matter how brilliant your essay, you get zero credit for anything you say that is not on that fixed list of approved items. Supposedly, anything false you say that is not on that list of approved items will also not be held against you (I'm not clear if you get demerits for saying the opposite of something on the list).

    Essentially, your AP teacher finds out the key approved items, you regurgitate them, and nothing else matters.

    Maybe some colleges actually work that way; fortunately, I never attended any of them.

    But the real problem is the STEM tests. Because the College Board guarantees not to include anything not on the list of announced topics, they cannot have a high ceiling that rewards those students who have gone above and beyond the base level (for example, they test for the integral form but not the differential form of Gauss's law, Ampere's law, and Faraday's law on Physics C Electricity and Magnetism).

    Yet, they need some way of spreading out the students' scores. So, what they do is have problems that just can't be solved in the time allotted unless you have been especially trained to rapidly solve the sort of rather silly problems that the College Board is known to put on the STEM AP tests.

    I.e., although I have a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford, am co-inventor on a number of patents, etc., I myself would be hard-pressed to earn a 5 on the AP Physics C tests unless I went to a good deal of trouble to prep. The AP Physics tests just do not have much at all to do with real physics (or engineering).

    Similarly, I have seen a lot of university math professors complaining about AP Calculus: their students have been trained like parrots to do the tricks required to get a 5 on AP Calculus without actually understanding what is going on. (This is basically what Jaime Escalante famously figured out, and why his students all made similar errors -- they had been trained in the same tricks to get the answers.)

    Schools like Caltech, my own alma mater, have their own math placement exams that are much better than the AP, but of course Caltech does not have to worry about rapidly scoring hundreds of thousands of tests while guaranteeing national consistency. (I found Caltech's Calculus 1 test interesting but not too hard. I found the test to quiz out of Calculus 2 dumbfounding, though I gave it my best shot, anyway. Caltech rightly said that I could skip Calculus 1 but needed to take Calculus 2.)

    In case anyone wonders if I am just voicing "sour grapes," my kids did well enough on the APs to get into a bunch of UCs, including, fortunately, UCLA School of Engineering (which is much more selective than UCLA as a whole).

    I myself am old enough that APs were not an issue (our school had zero AP classes back then): I took the AP US History test as a lark to see what I could do.

    I got a 4, despite the fact that I really BSed my way through the entire test.

    More evidence, I am afraid, that on the AP tests, being test-wise is much more important than actual knowledge.

    Dave Miller in Sacramento

    Dave:

    I don’t agree with your criticism of AP C. I am not a physicist, but have been around it a fair amount (working mechanical engineer, union card in solid state chem, etc.) I took the AP C in the early 80s. I had actually only had a trig-based physics class, but I had taken AP BC calc (which has lots of physics problems). I did a weekend of prep before. Mechanics I was able to get a 4 on. Had never had rotational kinematics, but all the equations are analagues (i.e. instead of F=ma, you get torque=moment of intertia times rotational acceleration). For the E&M part, it was just too hard and I got a 2. Some problems required third semester calculus (line integrals). And my E&M (simple circuits) did not have much to do with charge surfaces on spheres.

    Basically AP C is fine. You just probably don’t like how hard electrostatics is. It worked out OK for me. Took second semester (placed out of first) in college, er…trade school on the Severn. Always wondered about the very tricky gyroscope problems that I never learned, but it did not hold me back in quantum chem or engineering or the like.

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    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    Anonymous wrote to me:

    Basically AP C is fine. You just probably don’t like how hard electrostatics is.
     
    No, it is the other way around: I think the AP E&M trivializes E&M: teaching the integral forms of Maxwell's equations without teaching the differential forms is just not physics. Personally, I actually find the E&M AP easier than the Mechanics (although of course coming from an older generation I took neither, as I explained up above). Indeed, my kids, with my tutoring did better on AP E&M than on AP Mechanics.

    Anonymous also wrote:

    I did a weekend of prep before. Mechanics I was able to get a 4 on.
     
    My points above were that the AP Physics C tests encourage bad teaching of physics, not whether you could manage to get a decent score. You earned a 4 on a test that is a poor test of knowledge of physics.

    To give a concrete illustration of what I mean, you wrote:

    Had never had rotational kinematics, but all the equations are analagues (i.e. instead of F=ma, you get torque=moment of intertia times rotational acceleration).
     
    You are certainly correct that that is how the Physics C Mechanics test is set up. And, that is horrible: rotational motion is not just like linear motion except that you replace mass by moment of inertia, etc.

    The fact that you, and the test takers, think that way shows an abysmally poor understanding of physics.

    To understand rotational motion, you have to understand how radically different it is from linear motion: the effect of changes in the moment of inertia, the fact that angular motion depends on your choice of origin, the idea of a "couple," and a lot more. That is what is physically important, not the naive analogies that you point out that got you through the test.

    Hopefully, you learned all this in one of your MechE classes, but the AP Physics C Mechanics test encourages teachers not to explain all that.

    The problem with the AP tests is not that they are too hard or too easy but that they encourage students and teachers not to focus on actually understanding physics and calculus. Jaime Escalante's little trick with his students demonstrated that all too well.

    As for the Calc, well, if you think "slope fields" are important in understanding Calc, then you do not understand Calc.

    Sorry for being so blunt, but you badly misunderstand the objections I and so many other Ph.D. physicists and mathematicians have made to the AP tests.

    Dave
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  160. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Luke Lea
    My daughter took AP American History. It was such a whirlwind of facts I don't think she got the overall picture, particularly since she had never been exposed to much American history in grammar school or junior high.

    That is bizarre to me. My junior high was baby American History in 7th and baby Civics in 8th. So doing 11th and 12th was a natural going deeper and rather progressive (pedagogically, not politically).

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  161. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @education realist
    ". So it looks like 1% of the overall relevant population took the test. Obviously not all schools offer it, etc etc."

    As opposed to entire state senior populations that take the college admissions tests. Can't see why Steve would think there was some sort of selection bias.

    "Competitive high school tests are more interesting than standardized high school tests in terms of identifying tail end talent. "

    Not any more. High school math has become about shoving as much math as possible into students who don't care about anything other than getting an A. I've run into too many kids with a 5 on the BC who can't factor, or don't know why factoring is a needed skill, or don't understand what it is. Kids who don't have the vaguest notion of number theory, or how quadratic zeros relate. Kids won't don't have any idea as to what the difference between a function and an equation is.

    This is a significant weakness of high school math which we can lay at the feet of colleges who originally demanded that calculus be shoved down to the high school level, and Asian immigration, which created a large body of students utterly willing to regurgitate whatever someone else chewed first and stuck in their mouth.

    I'm not saying that the kids in the Olympiad aren't smart, although I"m skeptical that there's more than a couple really smarts and a shit ton of slogs. I'm saying that they are the only smart ones interested enough to go through the moronic hoops demanded of high school math to qualify.


    "My AP calc teacher covered the equivalent of two and a half semesters worth of calc at my college, but in my son’s year-long AP classes they seem to be done with coursework in February and then spend two months practicing for the May exam. I suspect teachers at our high school get some sort of bonus for kids who take the exam and score well, too. "

    That's pretty typical. They shove their way through the coursework then spend months reviewing. Teachers don't get bonuses, but if they don't get good results it ultimately ends their ability to teach AP.

    At some schools, AP teachers are the highest respected, best rooms, etc, and all the other teachers get the losers. But at mixed SES mixed demographic schools like mine, teachers that can work with at risk unmotivated kids are usually equally valued. But AP kids are easier, of course, and if you're a math teacher in particular it means you're only getting kids who had to take four or five years of math first.



    "Glad to see you back here and that comment was a good example of why."

    Thanks, but comments here are getting kind of crazy. (No, I don't mean people bitching about my Asian posts.)

    One thing that is new to me s a trend (and seems to come from the more AP emphasis, nationwide) is the emphasis on teaching to the test. I can think of an AP Cal teacher blog and an AP Chem teacher blog where they very much emphasize teaching only what is on the test. This is a little different from what I remember in the 80s, where the teachers tried to teach smart high school kids a college course and just the last couple weeks show a little of the format of AP essay questions and the like.

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  162. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Nico

    But a nephew who AP’d out of his entire freshman year at the U. of Illinois immediately flunked out because his sophomore level engineering courses he took as a freshman were so tough relative to how much xBox he was playing without his mom around to nag him into doing his homework.
     
    That of course isn't (entirely) the fault of the AP, but schools are right to be skeptical of AP test performance as equivalency for all 101 classes. Specifically I recall that AP Calculus, even the "BC" version, is not suitable as a substitute for first-year calculus for engineers. Where I went to school first-year calculus used the same textbooks we had used for AP Calculus in high school and there was a separate course called engineering calculus for the engineering students.

    I don’t know, man. I got a 5 on BC in the early 80s. And the textbook was not Spivak, but Thomas Finney and was AP oriented. I placed out of first two semesters at the boat school and then had no problem in the following calc 3 and diffyQ classes. And no issues with any of the general engineering I took (and helped my buddy out who was NArch, but more of a drafting design type than a math type).

    Calculus is calculus. You can do Granville from 1900 and learn all the important parts. The real analysis fetish from Hardy, et al, is a waste. Engineers and physicists don’t need theoretical calculus. They need to be able to do manipulation.

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    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    Anonymous wrote:

    I don’t know, man. I got a 5 on BC in the early 80s. And the textbook was not Spivak, but Thomas Finney and was AP oriented.
     
    The point that a number of us are making here is that getting a 5 on AP Calc BC does not show you are good at calculus.

    Yeah, if you diligently studied Spivak, you might actually have gotten a lower score on the AP than by studying Finney: as you say Finney is "AP oriented." But, Spivak is a truly great book. Finney, as you imply, is a test-prep book.

    Of course, if all you care about is your score rather than knowledge, you got what you wanted.
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  163. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    Interesting a couple of the comments on the Tripos here, since I have been reading a little about the history of the 19th century Tripos. Very manipulative and math contesty, but more math physics than real analysis. The purist analyst types hated it (like the G Hardy clique) but it really was something amazing in a way. Very Feynman. Asked if Steve was aware of it on some other post, but I can never recall where I posted so don’t know if there was a response.

    Here are a couple links to discussion of it. Note that one is from Pearson, who will be a connect to HBD stuff.

    https://www.jstor.org/stable/3605871?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

    https://www.jstor.org/stable/3607829?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

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  164. @Corvinus
    "And the way in which they exercised their right of self-determination was obviously, manifestly extremely reckless! It led to the destruction of their country."

    No, the Polish people at that time had every liberty to protect their national sovereignty, given the fact that the Germans. There actions were other than reckless. Germany was certainly unwilling to hand over an important urban area to "subhumans". There was a history of German dominance there politically and economically. Had they not secured that port city, the Polish would have been subject to harsh tolls for the right to access goods. Rather, they were afforded an opportunity to secure vital access to the sea. Hitler was hell bent on securing Poland as a buffer zone against future Russian aggression.

    "It is reckless to stand one’s ground without any defense at all against a ravenous lion, even if you are right and the lion is wrong. Poland had zero chance against Germany, especially given that Germany was then allied with the Soviet Union. The Poles paid dearly for nearly five decades for the foolish decision their leaders made in 1939. Yeah, my sympathies are with the Poles and against the Nazis and Soviets, but Western sympathy did nothing to save the Poles."

    Which is why the Polish and British had engaged in negotiations about future Polish protection and with the French stating they would invade Germany when it entered Polish territory. You must look at the context here, because you are simply benefitting from hindsight. There was fierce debate with Great Britain and France as far as the next step to the Hitler problem. They were experiencing major economic issues, they were ill-prepared for war, the citizens were clamoring to focus on their own internal problems, and Hitler's intentions were yet to be fully revealed. So while people today can say that Great Britain and France "sold out" Poland, there needs to be consideration as to the factors causing those two nations to not take direct military action. They could have pulled the trigger, but neglected to open fire. Again, context.

    "To the degree that the Western Allies gave the Poles false hope of Western aid and support, the Allies contributed to the destruction of Poland."

    With the majority of that contributions at the hands of Germany. Culpability on the part of Great Britain and France? Sure. But be accurate here--Germany was hell bent on taking over Poland regardless of outside intervention.

    "But they didn’t. Britain and France did nothing to “assist” Poland at all. Not at all. And at the end of the war, the Allies cheerfully acceded to the Soviet conquest of Poland."

    There was no "cheering" here, but dread and fear by the British and French.

    "The claim that the Allies went to war to save Poland was merely a propaganda lie. They made no effort to save Poland, and of course they could not save Poland. Any promise they gave Poland of standing by it in its confrontation with Hitler was a lie that helped lure the Poles into disaster."

    Thank you very much for your opinion on this matter.

    "Oh, yeah — like the “free peoples” slaughtered by the US government in the Philippines (read Stuart Creighton Miller’s Benevolent Assimilation: The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903 about the atrocities and war crimes committed by the US in the Philippines — if you have a really strong stomach). Or the “free peoples” enslaved and slaughtered by the Belgians in the Congo. Or the lovely way that the Brits and the French treated the “natives” all around the world."

    So you mean white people committed atrocities? How dare you admit those hate facts. Turn in your white card at the door, you race traitor.

    Listen, every nation has failed and will fail to live up to its own ideals. Human beings are a constructive and destructive lot.

    "You neocons are all the same, aren’t you , Corvinus?"

    [Laughs] Listen, get it right next time. It's anti-white, Churchian, neo-con Jew. I mean, seriously, the nerve of some people on a blog who forget to include all of the labels for someone merely because they oppose their positions. Again, get it right!

    "You’re a racist, Corvinus, always ready to forgive how your pals and political soul-mates, monsters like T. Roosevelt, FDR, Churchill, and all the rest, have murdered innocent people around the world, as long as the victims are not white."

    We are all racist and sexist and homophobic. Even you. Get use to it.

    "I want to know one thing, Corvinus: can you look yourself in the mirror in the morning?"

    Great. Try it sometime.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ldAQ6Rh5ZI

    Corvinus wrote:

    No, the Polish people at that time had every liberty to protect their national sovereignty, given the fact that the Germans.[sic]

    That sentence does not make any sense, Corvy — “given the fact that the Germans.” You’re losing it.

    I did not say the Poles did not have the right to protect their national sovereignty. I merely pointed out that they lacked the ability. Failing to reach a compromise with Germany led to absolute catastrophe for Poland for the next half century.

    Sure, in terms of Hitler vs. the Poles, my sympathy lies with the Poles. But, the action of the Polish leaders was suicidal. And, the French and British encouragement of this suicidal behavior was worse.

    And even you know that, Corvy.

    Corvy also wrote:

    So while people today can say that Great Britain and France “sold out” Poland, there needs to be consideration as to the factors causing those two nations to not take direct military action.

    Corvy, are you aware that the Soviets and Germans invaded Poland at the same time in the wake of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact? It was clear to anyone at that time that Britain and France could do nothing to protect the Poles from those two powers. This is not the advantage of hindsight: it was totally obvious.

    I did not say the Western powers “sold out” Poland: that would be far too kind. No, they callously encouraged the Poles to pursue a suicidal course.

    Corvy also wrote:

    There was no “cheering” here, but dread and fear by the British and French.

    Read about the various summits among the “Big Three” during WW II: yeah, they were in fact pretty cheerful about it all — I can suggest some remedial reading if you wish. It was only well after the war that people like Churchill and Truman started to realize what they had done.

    Corvy also wrote:

    So you mean white people committed atrocities? How dare you admit those hate facts. Turn in your white card at the door, you race traitor.

    I am not a white nationalist, Corvy, despite your lying attempts to claim that anyone who comments here must be a white nationalist. I hold that all human beings are endowed with certain inalienable rights upon which no government can legitimately infringe. I realize that you are completely unacquainted with that concept.

    Corvy also wrote:

    Listen, every nation has failed and will fail to live up to its own ideals. Human beings are a constructive and destructive lot.

    But you claimed, ludicrously, that FDR took the US to war to protect “free peoples” when FDR allied himself with one of the greatest butchers in history, Stalin, with the brutal Chinese warlords, and with two of the more vicious imperialist powers in modern history, France and Britain.

    That is not merely a “failure to live up to its own ideals.” That is intentionally taking the side of the bad guys.

    Most of the Allied powers were deeply and profoundly evil in terms of how they had treated innocent human beings.

    Corvy also wrote:

    Listen, get it right next time. It’s anti-white, Churchian, neo-con Jew.

    No, Corvy, you are not “anti-white”: you are an evil, craven apologist for the white elites who have brought so much suffering and death to this planet during the last hundred years.

    You are an evil monster, just like FDR, Stalin, Hitler, Churchill, and all the rest.

    The problem with this world is not, as you seem to want people to say, “people of color.” The problem with this world is the evil white elites who have brought such horrors to the human species.

    And you, Corvy, are their apologist.

    And, you know it.

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    • Replies: @Corvinus
    No, the Polish people at that time had every liberty to protect their national sovereignty, given the fact the Germans in the past in that region (Danzig) ensured second class citizenship for Poles who lived there.

    “I did not say the Poles did not have the right to protect their national sovereignty. I merely pointed out that they lacked the ability.”

    They did not lack the ability when the Versailles Treaty was being crafted. The

    “Failing to reach a compromise with Germany led to absolute catastrophe for Poland for the next half century.”

    Compromise requires one group willing to offer up concessions. Germany was not about to enable Poles to have a say in government or financial affairs. Given that history, and considering that Germany lost a war, the Poles gained a nation to call their own, and a port city to assist them in economic vitality.

    “But, the action of the Polish leaders was suicidal.”

    Their actions were other than suicidal. They were purposeful in protecting the sovereignty of Poland. What was suicidal was Germany’s actions toward their fellow Europeans. You can claim in hindsight that Poland ought to have made a compromise, they ought to have known better that it would have turned out badly for them. At the time, it was believed Polish access to a seaport would be beneficial for their country.

    “Corvy, are you aware that the Soviets and Germans invaded Poland at the same time in the wake of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact? It was clear to anyone at that time that Britain and France could do nothing to protect the Poles from those two powers.”

    Patently false, as evident by the negotiations these three nations had about protection. It was a matter of deciding to go all in or stand pat. Great Britain and France could have done
    something, there were options on the table, it was a matter of having the willpower to actually get involved.

    “Read about the various summits among the “Big Three” during WW II: yeah, they were in fact pretty cheerful about it all — I can suggest some remedial reading if you wish.”

    Offer direct quotes that clearly demonstrate that the “Big Three” were directly, not implied, cheering or jovial or happy about Poland being invaded by Germany in 1939.

    “But you claimed, ludicrously, that FDR took the US to war to protect “free peoples” when FDR allied himself with one of the greatest butchers in history, Stalin…”

    Allied himself with a clearly undesirable leader to win a war against a common opponent, which is nothing new. Nations that have clear ideological differences in the past have come together to defeat a common foe. In China, the Nationalists and the Communists set aside their differences temporarily to defeat a common enemy, the Japanese, during World War II.

    “and with two of the more vicious imperialist powers in modern history, France and Britain.”

    Most nations at some point in their history have engaged in brutal actions against their own people or other groups of people. That is human nature.

    “No, Corvy, you are not “anti-white”: you are an evil, craven apologist for the white elites who have brought so much suffering and death to this planet during the last hundred years. You are an evil monster, just like FDR, Stalin, Hitler, Churchill, and all the rest.”

The train is fine, Dave, the train is fine.

    "And you, Corvy, are their apologist. And, you know it."

    I know you make consistent and considerable wild generalizations on a blog to people whom you have little knowledge of.
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  165. @Anonymous
    Dave:

    I don't agree with your criticism of AP C. I am not a physicist, but have been around it a fair amount (working mechanical engineer, union card in solid state chem, etc.) I took the AP C in the early 80s. I had actually only had a trig-based physics class, but I had taken AP BC calc (which has lots of physics problems). I did a weekend of prep before. Mechanics I was able to get a 4 on. Had never had rotational kinematics, but all the equations are analagues (i.e. instead of F=ma, you get torque=moment of intertia times rotational acceleration). For the E&M part, it was just too hard and I got a 2. Some problems required third semester calculus (line integrals). And my E&M (simple circuits) did not have much to do with charge surfaces on spheres.

    Basically AP C is fine. You just probably don't like how hard electrostatics is. It worked out OK for me. Took second semester (placed out of first) in college, er...trade school on the Severn. Always wondered about the very tricky gyroscope problems that I never learned, but it did not hold me back in quantum chem or engineering or the like.

    Anonymous wrote to me:

    Basically AP C is fine. You just probably don’t like how hard electrostatics is.

    No, it is the other way around: I think the AP E&M trivializes E&M: teaching the integral forms of Maxwell’s equations without teaching the differential forms is just not physics. Personally, I actually find the E&M AP easier than the Mechanics (although of course coming from an older generation I took neither, as I explained up above). Indeed, my kids, with my tutoring did better on AP E&M than on AP Mechanics.

    Anonymous also wrote:

    I did a weekend of prep before. Mechanics I was able to get a 4 on.

    My points above were that the AP Physics C tests encourage bad teaching of physics, not whether you could manage to get a decent score. You earned a 4 on a test that is a poor test of knowledge of physics.

    To give a concrete illustration of what I mean, you wrote:

    Had never had rotational kinematics, but all the equations are analagues (i.e. instead of F=ma, you get torque=moment of intertia times rotational acceleration).

    You are certainly correct that that is how the Physics C Mechanics test is set up. And, that is horrible: rotational motion is not just like linear motion except that you replace mass by moment of inertia, etc.

    The fact that you, and the test takers, think that way shows an abysmally poor understanding of physics.

    To understand rotational motion, you have to understand how radically different it is from linear motion: the effect of changes in the moment of inertia, the fact that angular motion depends on your choice of origin, the idea of a “couple,” and a lot more. That is what is physically important, not the naive analogies that you point out that got you through the test.

    Hopefully, you learned all this in one of your MechE classes, but the AP Physics C Mechanics test encourages teachers not to explain all that.

    The problem with the AP tests is not that they are too hard or too easy but that they encourage students and teachers not to focus on actually understanding physics and calculus. Jaime Escalante’s little trick with his students demonstrated that all too well.

    As for the Calc, well, if you think “slope fields” are important in understanding Calc, then you do not understand Calc.

    Sorry for being so blunt, but you badly misunderstand the objections I and so many other Ph.D. physicists and mathematicians have made to the AP tests.

    Dave

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  166. @Anonymous
    I don't know, man. I got a 5 on BC in the early 80s. And the textbook was not Spivak, but Thomas Finney and was AP oriented. I placed out of first two semesters at the boat school and then had no problem in the following calc 3 and diffyQ classes. And no issues with any of the general engineering I took (and helped my buddy out who was NArch, but more of a drafting design type than a math type).

    Calculus is calculus. You can do Granville from 1900 and learn all the important parts. The real analysis fetish from Hardy, et al, is a waste. Engineers and physicists don't need theoretical calculus. They need to be able to do manipulation.

    Anonymous wrote:

    I don’t know, man. I got a 5 on BC in the early 80s. And the textbook was not Spivak, but Thomas Finney and was AP oriented.

    The point that a number of us are making here is that getting a 5 on AP Calc BC does not show you are good at calculus.

    Yeah, if you diligently studied Spivak, you might actually have gotten a lower score on the AP than by studying Finney: as you say Finney is “AP oriented.” But, Spivak is a truly great book. Finney, as you imply, is a test-prep book.

    Of course, if all you care about is your score rather than knowledge, you got what you wanted.

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    • Replies: @Anonymous
    I've had no problems with my basic toolkit in calculus in later courses. It served me fine.

    That's interesting that you think E&M is easier than Mechanics, but it is nonrepresentative.

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  167. @Opinionator
    I read your post as asserting a justification for Britain's and France's aggression against Germany--namely that it was somehow necessary or reasonable in order to protect their colonies.

    What I have read in this area, which is admittedly probably less than you have, does not suggest Germany had any real designs on said colonies. Germany wanted a more secure position in Central Europe, and it was willing to accommodate Britain in order to have that. Probabky France as well. See Pat Buchanan's "The Unnecessary War."

    The history you yourself adduce by way of evidence is consistent with that view.

    On the other hand, since “France” more or less ceased to exist, at least as an independent state (Vichy sort of pretended to be independent), it is not clear that the French empire could have continued in existence in any real sense if France continued to be occupied long-term by Germany. And, the German defeat of France certainly did facilitate the Japanese conquest of Indochina.

    As a result of France's declaring war on Germany, rather than making peace with her.

    Over the long term, could Britain and France have held on to most of their empires if Germany had emerged as the unchallenged hegemon in Europe? Seems doubtful to me and I bet it seemed doubtful to French and British elites at the time.

    Evidence suggests that Germany was willing to accept the existence of France and Britain and its colonies. Hitler wanted peace with England.

    Opinionator commented to me:

    I read your post as asserting a justification for Britain’s and France’s aggression against Germany–namely that it was somehow necessary or reasonable in order to protect their colonies.

    What I have read in this area, which is admittedly probably less than you have, does not suggest Germany had any real designs on said colonies. Germany wanted a more secure position in Central Europe, and it was willing to accommodate Britain in order to have that. Probabky France as well. See Pat Buchanan’s “The Unnecessary War.”

    Yes, I think we are more or less in agreement.

    For the likes of Corvinus, I should probably make clear (again) that I hold no brief for the Axis Powers: I am of course appalled by the Holocaust, the rape of Nanjing, Mussolini’s conquest of Ethiopia, and all the rest.

    But, like you, I think we must also tell the truth about what happened: the origins of the war are more complex that most people realize, and the motives of the Allies were far from innocent.

    To criticize the Allies is not to support the Axis. (Yes, I know you know this; I am making this point for Corvinus et al.)

    Dave

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  168. Corvinus says:
    @PhysicistDave
    Corvinus wrote:

    No, the Polish people at that time had every liberty to protect their national sovereignty, given the fact that the Germans.[sic]
     
    That sentence does not make any sense, Corvy -- "given the fact that the Germans." You're losing it.

    I did not say the Poles did not have the right to protect their national sovereignty. I merely pointed out that they lacked the ability. Failing to reach a compromise with Germany led to absolute catastrophe for Poland for the next half century.

    Sure, in terms of Hitler vs. the Poles, my sympathy lies with the Poles. But, the action of the Polish leaders was suicidal. And, the French and British encouragement of this suicidal behavior was worse.

    And even you know that, Corvy.

    Corvy also wrote:

    So while people today can say that Great Britain and France “sold out” Poland, there needs to be consideration as to the factors causing those two nations to not take direct military action.
     
    Corvy, are you aware that the Soviets and Germans invaded Poland at the same time in the wake of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact? It was clear to anyone at that time that Britain and France could do nothing to protect the Poles from those two powers. This is not the advantage of hindsight: it was totally obvious.

    I did not say the Western powers "sold out" Poland: that would be far too kind. No, they callously encouraged the Poles to pursue a suicidal course.

    Corvy also wrote:

    There was no “cheering” here, but dread and fear by the British and French.
     
    Read about the various summits among the "Big Three" during WW II: yeah, they were in fact pretty cheerful about it all -- I can suggest some remedial reading if you wish. It was only well after the war that people like Churchill and Truman started to realize what they had done.

    Corvy also wrote:

    So you mean white people committed atrocities? How dare you admit those hate facts. Turn in your white card at the door, you race traitor.
     
    I am not a white nationalist, Corvy, despite your lying attempts to claim that anyone who comments here must be a white nationalist. I hold that all human beings are endowed with certain inalienable rights upon which no government can legitimately infringe. I realize that you are completely unacquainted with that concept.

    Corvy also wrote:

    Listen, every nation has failed and will fail to live up to its own ideals. Human beings are a constructive and destructive lot.
     
    But you claimed, ludicrously, that FDR took the US to war to protect "free peoples" when FDR allied himself with one of the greatest butchers in history, Stalin, with the brutal Chinese warlords, and with two of the more vicious imperialist powers in modern history, France and Britain.

    That is not merely a "failure to live up to its own ideals." That is intentionally taking the side of the bad guys.

    Most of the Allied powers were deeply and profoundly evil in terms of how they had treated innocent human beings.

    Corvy also wrote:

    Listen, get it right next time. It’s anti-white, Churchian, neo-con Jew.
     
    No, Corvy, you are not "anti-white": you are an evil, craven apologist for the white elites who have brought so much suffering and death to this planet during the last hundred years.

    You are an evil monster, just like FDR, Stalin, Hitler, Churchill, and all the rest.

    The problem with this world is not, as you seem to want people to say, "people of color." The problem with this world is the evil white elites who have brought such horrors to the human species.

    And you, Corvy, are their apologist.

    And, you know it.

    No, the Polish people at that time had every liberty to protect their national sovereignty, given the fact the Germans in the past in that region (Danzig) ensured second class citizenship for Poles who lived there.

    “I did not say the Poles did not have the right to protect their national sovereignty. I merely pointed out that they lacked the ability.”

    They did not lack the ability when the Versailles Treaty was being crafted. The

    “Failing to reach a compromise with Germany led to absolute catastrophe for Poland for the next half century.”

    Compromise requires one group willing to offer up concessions. Germany was not about to enable Poles to have a say in government or financial affairs. Given that history, and considering that Germany lost a war, the Poles gained a nation to call their own, and a port city to assist them in economic vitality.

    “But, the action of the Polish leaders was suicidal.”

    Their actions were other than suicidal. They were purposeful in protecting the sovereignty of Poland. What was suicidal was Germany’s actions toward their fellow Europeans. You can claim in hindsight that Poland ought to have made a compromise, they ought to have known better that it would have turned out badly for them. At the time, it was believed Polish access to a seaport would be beneficial for their country.

    “Corvy, are you aware that the Soviets and Germans invaded Poland at the same time in the wake of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact? It was clear to anyone at that time that Britain and France could do nothing to protect the Poles from those two powers.”

    Patently false, as evident by the negotiations these three nations had about protection. It was a matter of deciding to go all in or stand pat. Great Britain and France could have done
    something, there were options on the table, it was a matter of having the willpower to actually get involved.

    “Read about the various summits among the “Big Three” during WW II: yeah, they were in fact pretty cheerful about it all — I can suggest some remedial reading if you wish.”

    Offer direct quotes that clearly demonstrate that the “Big Three” were directly, not implied, cheering or jovial or happy about Poland being invaded by Germany in 1939.

    “But you claimed, ludicrously, that FDR took the US to war to protect “free peoples” when FDR allied himself with one of the greatest butchers in history, Stalin…”

    Allied himself with a clearly undesirable leader to win a war against a common opponent, which is nothing new. Nations that have clear ideological differences in the past have come together to defeat a common foe. In China, the Nationalists and the Communists set aside their differences temporarily to defeat a common enemy, the Japanese, during World War II.

    “and with two of the more vicious imperialist powers in modern history, France and Britain.”

    Most nations at some point in their history have engaged in brutal actions against their own people or other groups of people. That is human nature.

    “No, Corvy, you are not “anti-white”: you are an evil, craven apologist for the white elites who have brought so much suffering and death to this planet during the last hundred years. You are an evil monster, just like FDR, Stalin, Hitler, Churchill, and all the rest.”

The train is fine, Dave, the train is fine.

    “And you, Corvy, are their apologist. And, you know it.”

    I know you make consistent and considerable wild generalizations on a blog to people whom you have little knowledge of.

    Read More
    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    Corvy wrote to me:

    They did not lack the ability when the Versailles Treaty was being crafted. The [sic]
     
    Corvy, you are becoming incoherent: you are doing things like this dangling "The" increasingly often: I suppose your dating of Munich to 1934 was just the beginning of your breakdown, eh?

    Frankly, I'm glad to see your descent into madness.

    Obviously, I have been talking, at great length, about the Polish leadership's unwillingness to work out a compromise in 1939. The Poles did not have the ability to hold off against the Nazis and the Soviets in 1939, as I keep pointing out (you might have picked up on the fact that there was no Nazi regime at the time "when the Versailles Treaty was being crafted," eh?). And, in 1939, there was no possibility that the Brits and French would seriously prevent the devastation of Poland, given the Polish leadership's catastrophic decisions, and, indeed, the Brits and French did not aid the Poles in 1939.

    Corvy also wrote:

    Compromise requires one group willing to offer up concessions. Germany was not about to enable Poles to have a say in government or financial affairs. Given that history, and considering that Germany lost a war, the Poles gained a nation to call their own, and a port city to assist them in economic vitality.
     
    You may think that compromise always consists in both sides giving up equally, but, unfortunately, when you find yourself in a situation such as the Poles were in during 1939, trapped between the Nazis and their allies the Soviets, I am afraid there are very few options.

    The facts that "Germany lost a war" and that "the Poles gained a nation to call their own" simply were irrelevant to the actual facts on the ground in 1939. That is very sad, but it is also true.

    If you are confronted by a mugger with a gun who demands your wallet, are you going to start arguing with him about the true meaning of "compromise" and tell him that you have the "right" to resist? Good luck, young fella!

    Hitler was that mugger; Poland had no hope of resistance in 1939, especially with the Soviets allied with Hitler.

    Corvy also wrote:

    Allied [sic] himself with a clearly undesirable leader to win a war against a common opponent, which is nothing new. Nations that have clear ideological differences in the past have come together to defeat a common foe.
     
    But, in the period 1939-1941, Stalin had already brutally murdered many, many more innocent civilians than Hitler had. If you insist on allying with a very, very evil guy to defeat an even more evil guy, the logic of your position would call for allying with Hitler against Stalin!

    No, I advocate alllying with neither Hitler nor Stalin: they were both profoundly evil; we did not need to choose sides. But FDR chose to ally with the one who had murdered many more innocents -- Stalin. Bizarre.

    Corvy ended by saying:

    I know you make consistent and considerable wild generalizations on a blog to people whom you have little knowledge of.
     
    Oh, we know a lot about you Corvy, Your posts have revealed a great deal that should deeply embarrass you.

    Which perhaps is why you seem to be losing coherence.
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  169. Corvinus says:
    @Opinionator
    I read your post as asserting a justification for Britain's and France's aggression against Germany--namely that it was somehow necessary or reasonable in order to protect their colonies.

    What I have read in this area, which is admittedly probably less than you have, does not suggest Germany had any real designs on said colonies. Germany wanted a more secure position in Central Europe, and it was willing to accommodate Britain in order to have that. Probabky France as well. See Pat Buchanan's "The Unnecessary War."

    The history you yourself adduce by way of evidence is consistent with that view.

    On the other hand, since “France” more or less ceased to exist, at least as an independent state (Vichy sort of pretended to be independent), it is not clear that the French empire could have continued in existence in any real sense if France continued to be occupied long-term by Germany. And, the German defeat of France certainly did facilitate the Japanese conquest of Indochina.

    As a result of France's declaring war on Germany, rather than making peace with her.

    Over the long term, could Britain and France have held on to most of their empires if Germany had emerged as the unchallenged hegemon in Europe? Seems doubtful to me and I bet it seemed doubtful to French and British elites at the time.

    Evidence suggests that Germany was willing to accept the existence of France and Britain and its colonies. Hitler wanted peace with England.

    “Evidence suggests that Germany was willing to accept the existence of France and Britain and its colonies. Hitler wanted peace with England.”

    Buchanan was ignorant about the aggression of Imperial Germany–it openly encouraged Muslims to wage war against Great Britain and France during World War 1; it engaged in genocide in German South-West Africa; it supported the Turks who committed genocide against Armenians.

    Buchanan was making the argument that Great Britain should have “stood down” and enabled Germany to conquer Eastern Europe, engage in a war with Russia, and let the combatants beat each other to death, in order to save Western Europe, which in essence condones the death of millions of people as “it’s not our problem”. The result? Western democracies left standing and being able to spread a “desired civilization”.

    The fact remains there was a collision course between Great Britain/France and Germany, the result of territorial ambitions, the security for one’s borders, and for the procurement of markets/natural resources. There is culpability on all sides, but ultimately Germany is responsible for causing World War II.

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  170. @Corvinus
    No, the Polish people at that time had every liberty to protect their national sovereignty, given the fact the Germans in the past in that region (Danzig) ensured second class citizenship for Poles who lived there.

    “I did not say the Poles did not have the right to protect their national sovereignty. I merely pointed out that they lacked the ability.”

    They did not lack the ability when the Versailles Treaty was being crafted. The

    “Failing to reach a compromise with Germany led to absolute catastrophe for Poland for the next half century.”

    Compromise requires one group willing to offer up concessions. Germany was not about to enable Poles to have a say in government or financial affairs. Given that history, and considering that Germany lost a war, the Poles gained a nation to call their own, and a port city to assist them in economic vitality.

    “But, the action of the Polish leaders was suicidal.”

    Their actions were other than suicidal. They were purposeful in protecting the sovereignty of Poland. What was suicidal was Germany’s actions toward their fellow Europeans. You can claim in hindsight that Poland ought to have made a compromise, they ought to have known better that it would have turned out badly for them. At the time, it was believed Polish access to a seaport would be beneficial for their country.

    “Corvy, are you aware that the Soviets and Germans invaded Poland at the same time in the wake of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact? It was clear to anyone at that time that Britain and France could do nothing to protect the Poles from those two powers.”

    Patently false, as evident by the negotiations these three nations had about protection. It was a matter of deciding to go all in or stand pat. Great Britain and France could have done
    something, there were options on the table, it was a matter of having the willpower to actually get involved.

    “Read about the various summits among the “Big Three” during WW II: yeah, they were in fact pretty cheerful about it all — I can suggest some remedial reading if you wish.”

    Offer direct quotes that clearly demonstrate that the “Big Three” were directly, not implied, cheering or jovial or happy about Poland being invaded by Germany in 1939.

    “But you claimed, ludicrously, that FDR took the US to war to protect “free peoples” when FDR allied himself with one of the greatest butchers in history, Stalin…”

    Allied himself with a clearly undesirable leader to win a war against a common opponent, which is nothing new. Nations that have clear ideological differences in the past have come together to defeat a common foe. In China, the Nationalists and the Communists set aside their differences temporarily to defeat a common enemy, the Japanese, during World War II.

    “and with two of the more vicious imperialist powers in modern history, France and Britain.”

    Most nations at some point in their history have engaged in brutal actions against their own people or other groups of people. That is human nature.

    “No, Corvy, you are not “anti-white”: you are an evil, craven apologist for the white elites who have brought so much suffering and death to this planet during the last hundred years. You are an evil monster, just like FDR, Stalin, Hitler, Churchill, and all the rest.”

The train is fine, Dave, the train is fine.

    "And you, Corvy, are their apologist. And, you know it."

    I know you make consistent and considerable wild generalizations on a blog to people whom you have little knowledge of.

    Corvy wrote to me:

    They did not lack the ability when the Versailles Treaty was being crafted. The [sic]

    Corvy, you are becoming incoherent: you are doing things like this dangling “The” increasingly often: I suppose your dating of Munich to 1934 was just the beginning of your breakdown, eh?

    Frankly, I’m glad to see your descent into madness.

    Obviously, I have been talking, at great length, about the Polish leadership’s unwillingness to work out a compromise in 1939. The Poles did not have the ability to hold off against the Nazis and the Soviets in 1939, as I keep pointing out (you might have picked up on the fact that there was no Nazi regime at the time “when the Versailles Treaty was being crafted,” eh?). And, in 1939, there was no possibility that the Brits and French would seriously prevent the devastation of Poland, given the Polish leadership’s catastrophic decisions, and, indeed, the Brits and French did not aid the Poles in 1939.

    Corvy also wrote:

    Compromise requires one group willing to offer up concessions. Germany was not about to enable Poles to have a say in government or financial affairs. Given that history, and considering that Germany lost a war, the Poles gained a nation to call their own, and a port city to assist them in economic vitality.

    You may think that compromise always consists in both sides giving up equally, but, unfortunately, when you find yourself in a situation such as the Poles were in during 1939, trapped between the Nazis and their allies the Soviets, I am afraid there are very few options.

    The facts that “Germany lost a war” and that “the Poles gained a nation to call their own” simply were irrelevant to the actual facts on the ground in 1939. That is very sad, but it is also true.

    If you are confronted by a mugger with a gun who demands your wallet, are you going to start arguing with him about the true meaning of “compromise” and tell him that you have the “right” to resist? Good luck, young fella!

    Hitler was that mugger; Poland had no hope of resistance in 1939, especially with the Soviets allied with Hitler.

    Corvy also wrote:

    Allied [sic] himself with a clearly undesirable leader to win a war against a common opponent, which is nothing new. Nations that have clear ideological differences in the past have come together to defeat a common foe.

    But, in the period 1939-1941, Stalin had already brutally murdered many, many more innocent civilians than Hitler had. If you insist on allying with a very, very evil guy to defeat an even more evil guy, the logic of your position would call for allying with Hitler against Stalin!

    No, I advocate alllying with neither Hitler nor Stalin: they were both profoundly evil; we did not need to choose sides. But FDR chose to ally with the one who had murdered many more innocents — Stalin. Bizarre.

    Corvy ended by saying:

    I know you make consistent and considerable wild generalizations on a blog to people whom you have little knowledge of.

    Oh, we know a lot about you Corvy, Your posts have revealed a great deal that should deeply embarrass you.

    Which perhaps is why you seem to be losing coherence.

    Read More
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  171. Corvy wrote to Opinionator:

    [Opinionator] “Evidence suggests that Germany was willing to accept the existence of France and Britain and its colonies. Hitler wanted peace with England.”

    [Corvy] Buchanan was ignorant about the aggression of Imperial Germany–it openly encouraged Muslims to wage war against Great Britain and France during World War 1; it engaged in genocide in German South-West Africa; it supported the Turks who committed genocide against Armenians.

    Corvy, Nazi Germany was not Imperial Germany: Hitler’s goals and ideology were radically different (tragically so) from Imperial Germany’s.

    In 1914, Britain and France chose to take the side of the country, Serbia, at least one of whose officials, Dragutin Dimitrijević AKA Apis, head of Intelligence for the Serbian General Staff, was involved in the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. Of course, the Brits and French did it not out of love for Serbia but out of a desire to limit the power of Germany, Austria-Hungary’s only important ally.

    I think all parties should have avoided war, but this is rather different than the events of 1939 in which Hitler attacked Poland.

    And, what on earth is this truly bizarre fantasy you have that “Imperial Germany–it openly encouraged Muslims to wage war against Great Britain and France during World War 1…”?

    Have you ever heard of “Lawrence of Arabia”??? (Hint: they made a film about him! If you are still having trouble with the whole reading thing, you can at least watch the film.)

    It was the Brits who encouraged the Arab subjects of Germany’s ally, the Ottoman Empire, to fight against the Ottomans to serve British interests and help defeat the Central Powers (i.e., Germany et al.,).

    The Anglo-French mandates in the Mideast came after and as a result of WWI.

    Are you this radically confused about all of history??? This whole thing has been kinda important in the history of the Mideast during the last hundred years!

    What is really scary is that here and there you have hinted that you somehow are or will be involved in the teaching of the humanities. If you are teaching history, God help your students!

    Read More
    • Replies: @Corvinus
    “Obviously, I have been talking, at great length, about the Polish leadership’s unwillingness to work out a compromise in 1939.”

    Regardless if it was after World War I or 1939--which you now clarified--Poland was in no position to compromise, as they had nothing to offer to Germany and Russia. Both nations would have their way with Poland.

    “And, in 1939, there was no possibility that the Brits and French would seriously prevent the devastation of Poland, given the Polish leadership’s catastrophic decisions.”

    The Polish decision to secure a port city was not catastrophic, as I had clearly outlined before. Furthermore, as I correctly stated, the British and the French considered the possibility to intervene on the behalf of Poland, but for a number of reasons, neglected to intervene.

    “If you are confronted by a mugger with a gun who demands your wallet, are you going to start arguing with him about the true meaning of “compromise” and tell him that you have the “right” to resist?”

    You may capitulate or you may fight. Poland chose to fight by not giving in to German demands. Call it whatever you want, but the Polish decision after World War I to assert its right to self-rule and to
secure a port city were decisions made in the interest of the Polish people. What proved unwise in the end was Hitler’s decision to wage war.

    “If you insist on allying with a very, very evil guy to defeat an even more evil guy, the logic of your position would call for allying with Hitler against Stalin!”

    The larger threat clearly was Germany, as Germany invaded France and set their sights on Great Britain. People make decisions choosing the lesser of two evils. Leaders decide on aligning themselves with other leaders who they each oppose philosophically, but need one another against a third party that threatens their existence.

    “Hitler’s goals and ideology were radically different (tragically so) from Imperial Germany’s.”

    The commonality here is aggression, which I stated in my post.



    “In 1914, Britain and France chose to take the side of the country, Serbia, at least one of whose officials, Dragutin Dimitrijević AKA Apis, head of Intelligence for the Serbian General Staff, was involved in the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne.”

    
It is a theory that he was involved. It is certainly is likely, but has yet to be proven conclusively.

    “And, what on earth is this truly bizarre fantasy you have that “Imperial Germany–it openly encouraged Muslims to wage war against Great Britain and France during World War 1…”?”

    No bizarre fantasy at all. Opinionator suggested that Germany prior to World War I had little issue with British and French colonies, which is other than accurate. In 1908, Germany sought to expand its empire at the expense of the French in Morocco and French Congo. In this manner, Germany could stop British ships en route to India by way of the Suez Canal. Moreover, the Germans supported the Turkish Empire to serve as a wedge against British trade in the region.

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  172. Corvinus says:
    @PhysicistDave
    Corvy wrote to Opinionator:

    [Opinionator] “Evidence suggests that Germany was willing to accept the existence of France and Britain and its colonies. Hitler wanted peace with England.”

    [Corvy] Buchanan was ignorant about the aggression of Imperial Germany–it openly encouraged Muslims to wage war against Great Britain and France during World War 1; it engaged in genocide in German South-West Africa; it supported the Turks who committed genocide against Armenians.
     
    Corvy, Nazi Germany was not Imperial Germany: Hitler's goals and ideology were radically different (tragically so) from Imperial Germany's.

    In 1914, Britain and France chose to take the side of the country, Serbia, at least one of whose officials, Dragutin Dimitrijević AKA Apis, head of Intelligence for the Serbian General Staff, was involved in the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. Of course, the Brits and French did it not out of love for Serbia but out of a desire to limit the power of Germany, Austria-Hungary's only important ally.

    I think all parties should have avoided war, but this is rather different than the events of 1939 in which Hitler attacked Poland.

    And, what on earth is this truly bizarre fantasy you have that "Imperial Germany–it openly encouraged Muslims to wage war against Great Britain and France during World War 1..."?

    Have you ever heard of "Lawrence of Arabia"??? (Hint: they made a film about him! If you are still having trouble with the whole reading thing, you can at least watch the film.)

    It was the Brits who encouraged the Arab subjects of Germany's ally, the Ottoman Empire, to fight against the Ottomans to serve British interests and help defeat the Central Powers (i.e., Germany et al.,).

    The Anglo-French mandates in the Mideast came after and as a result of WWI.

    Are you this radically confused about all of history??? This whole thing has been kinda important in the history of the Mideast during the last hundred years!

    What is really scary is that here and there you have hinted that you somehow are or will be involved in the teaching of the humanities. If you are teaching history, God help your students!

    “Obviously, I have been talking, at great length, about the Polish leadership’s unwillingness to work out a compromise in 1939.”

    Regardless if it was after World War I or 1939–which you now clarified–Poland was in no position to compromise, as they had nothing to offer to Germany and Russia. Both nations would have their way with Poland.

    “And, in 1939, there was no possibility that the Brits and French would seriously prevent the devastation of Poland, given the Polish leadership’s catastrophic decisions.”

    The Polish decision to secure a port city was not catastrophic, as I had clearly outlined before. Furthermore, as I correctly stated, the British and the French considered the possibility to intervene on the behalf of Poland, but for a number of reasons, neglected to intervene.

    “If you are confronted by a mugger with a gun who demands your wallet, are you going to start arguing with him about the true meaning of “compromise” and tell him that you have the “right” to resist?”

    You may capitulate or you may fight. Poland chose to fight by not giving in to German demands. Call it whatever you want, but the Polish decision after World War I to assert its right to self-rule and to
secure a port city were decisions made in the interest of the Polish people. What proved unwise in the end was Hitler’s decision to wage war.

    “If you insist on allying with a very, very evil guy to defeat an even more evil guy, the logic of your position would call for allying with Hitler against Stalin!”

    The larger threat clearly was Germany, as Germany invaded France and set their sights on Great Britain. People make decisions choosing the lesser of two evils. Leaders decide on aligning themselves with other leaders who they each oppose philosophically, but need one another against a third party that threatens their existence.

    “Hitler’s goals and ideology were radically different (tragically so) from Imperial Germany’s.”

    The commonality here is aggression, which I stated in my post.



    “In 1914, Britain and France chose to take the side of the country, Serbia, at least one of whose officials, Dragutin Dimitrijević AKA Apis, head of Intelligence for the Serbian General Staff, was involved in the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne.”

    
It is a theory that he was involved. It is certainly is likely, but has yet to be proven conclusively.

    “And, what on earth is this truly bizarre fantasy you have that “Imperial Germany–it openly encouraged Muslims to wage war against Great Britain and France during World War 1…”?”

    No bizarre fantasy at all. Opinionator suggested that Germany prior to World War I had little issue with British and French colonies, which is other than accurate. In 1908, Germany sought to expand its empire at the expense of the French in Morocco and French Congo. In this manner, Germany could stop British ships en route to India by way of the Suez Canal. Moreover, the Germans supported the Turkish Empire to serve as a wedge against British trade in the region.

    Read More
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  173. Corvy wrote to me:

    [Dave] “And, what on earth is this truly bizarre fantasy you have that “Imperial Germany–it openly encouraged Muslims to wage war against Great Britain and France during World War 1…”?”

    [Corvy] No bizarre fantasy at all. Opinionator suggested that Germany prior to World War I had little issue with British and French colonies, which is other than accurate. In 1908, Germany sought to expand its empire at the expense of the French in Morocco and French Congo.

    You are getting really freaky here, Corvy. Yes, prior to WWI, the Germans did indeed have disagreements with the Western powers on colonial matters.

    But that is not what you said earlier. Earlier, you said, as I quoted above, “Imperial Germany–it openly encouraged Muslims to wage war against Great Britain and France during World War 1…”

    And, that is just the opposite of the truth. In truth, it was the Brits who urged Arabs to fight against the Central Powers, specifically against the Ottoman Empire. You have it exactly backwards.

    I think (okay, I used to think) that you have the capability to tell the difference between, on the one hand, Germany disagreeing on colonial issues prior to WWI with the Western powers and, on the other hand, Germany supposedly encouraging Muslims to fight the Western powers during WWI. It’s sort of like the difference between, oh, say hamburgers and Shostakovich. They’re just different.

    But, I am coming to think you really cannot grasp things like this that the average eight-year-old has no trouble grasping.

    I am beginning to grasp that you honestly cannot see the distinction! In your brain, it is all just one big muddle — distinctions like this just do not exist, do they?

    Corvy also wrote:

    [Dave]“If you insist on allying with a very, very evil guy to defeat an even more evil guy, the logic of your position would call for allying with Hitler against Stalin!”

    [Corvy]The larger threat clearly was Germany, as Germany invaded France and set their sights on Great Britain.

    Except… that is factually just not what happened, Corvy! (I was going to say “as you know,” but I am now coming to realize you really do not know: you really are totally ignorant of history!)

    You quoted me as referring to Hitler, which sets the context as 1939. There is no indication that Hitler had his “sights” on either France or Britain in 1939. On the contrary, it was the two Western powers who declared war on Germany.

    Hitler was a monster: I am not defending Nazi Germany. But all of Hitler’s moves were into Eastern Europe, until the Western powers declared was on him. He evidently hoped the Western powers would let him get away with what he wanted to do in Eastern Europe. The idea that the Nazis “set their sights on Great Britain” prior to Britain declaring war on Germany is ludicrous.

    You really do not know any of this, do you, Corvy? And you are too stubborn to learn from people who do know something.

    This thread has succeeded in measuring you, Corvy, and the results are very revealing. Anytime you post anywhere on this website, we can all just point back to this thread to prove that you actually cannot help being what you are, sad as it is.

    You have unwittingly revealed the truth about yourself.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    During the Great War, by 1917 all the warring nations were trying to bribe all the uninterested into getting involved. E.g., Germany was encouraging Mexico to invade Texas (but not California, that was for Japan). The British were promising Palestine to the Jews and to the Arabs. When the German Foreign Office heard about the Balfour Declaration, they thought it was a great idea and wanted to give Palestine to the Zionists too, until their Ottoman allies reminded them that they owned Palestine so the Germans couldn't give it away.

    I think the Germans wanted to stir up jihad against the Brits in the Muslim parts of India and/or in Africa and against the Russians in the Caucasus, although I think they had trouble getting those off the ground.

    Anyway 1917 was kind of a peak year for geopolitical fantasists, like Lawrence of Arabia.

    In a Waugh novel, old adventurer Basil Seal can't get hired when WWII breaks out, so he sits down at his sister's estate to write a book. I think it's about why Britain must seize strategically-essential Liberia.

    Churchill was always coming up with schemes like that during WWII. The Americans stopped listening to him after awhile, so they missed his good ideas that were mixed in with his many bad ideas.
    , @Corvinus
    "But that is not what you said earlier. Earlier, you said, as I quoted above, “Imperial Germany–it openly encouraged Muslims to wage war against Great Britain and France during World War 1…”

    I have been consistent in what I wrote. Opinionator made the claim that Germany was willing to accept British and French colonies. Prior to and during World War I, as well as in the 1930's, Germany engaged in actions that contradict his statement.

    "In truth, it was the Brits who urged Arabs to fight against the Central Powers, specifically against the Ottoman Empire. You have it exactly backwards."

    No. The Ottoman Empire sought protection from Great Britain; the offer was rejected. The Ottoman Empire then carried out a surprise attack against Russia in October 1914. Perceived aggression by France and Great Britain in the 1880's against the interests of the Ottoman Empire led Abdul Hamid II, the last Sultan, to welcome German support, who encouraged it to resist against these two European powers.

    "rather than Corvinus’ fantasies about the Central Powers enlisting Muslims against the Allies."

    The Central Powers enlisted the help of the Ottoman Empire. Of course, not all Muslims in the region were on board, so some worked with the British and French against the Ottoman Empire and the Central Powers.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman%E2%80%93German_alliance

    "There is no sign he wanted war with Britain, until Britain forced the point by declaring war over Poland."

    Hitler clearly understood that taking over Europe, including France, would inevitably draw Great Britain into war.

    "I doubt that many Brits even at that time claimed that Hitler’s real goal was to conquer Britain (i.e., before Britain declared war): the Brits casus belli was, after all, his invasion of Poland — i.e., Hitler’s goals in Eastern Europe."

    Hitler's goals was to dominate Europe. He carefully concealed his plans. There was little fear among the British and French, for their own leaders remained unconcerned. HOWEVER, once Germany began seizing territory, either by mutual agreement (Austria) or by force (Sudetenland), increasing numbers of people in Great Britain and France became wary of his intentions, realizing that there had been a war fought just 20 years earlier and Germany itching for revenge considering it had to shoulder the blame and pay war damages.

    "And, I suppose I just need to accept the fact that this manner of mental functioning is far more common than I would like to think."

    Projection is your strong suit.
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  174. @PhysicistDave
    Corvy wrote to me:

    [Dave] “And, what on earth is this truly bizarre fantasy you have that “Imperial Germany–it openly encouraged Muslims to wage war against Great Britain and France during World War 1…”?”

    [Corvy] No bizarre fantasy at all. Opinionator suggested that Germany prior to World War I had little issue with British and French colonies, which is other than accurate. In 1908, Germany sought to expand its empire at the expense of the French in Morocco and French Congo.
     
    You are getting really freaky here, Corvy. Yes, prior to WWI, the Germans did indeed have disagreements with the Western powers on colonial matters.

    But that is not what you said earlier. Earlier, you said, as I quoted above, “Imperial Germany–it openly encouraged Muslims to wage war against Great Britain and France during World War 1…”

    And, that is just the opposite of the truth. In truth, it was the Brits who urged Arabs to fight against the Central Powers, specifically against the Ottoman Empire. You have it exactly backwards.

    I think (okay, I used to think) that you have the capability to tell the difference between, on the one hand, Germany disagreeing on colonial issues prior to WWI with the Western powers and, on the other hand, Germany supposedly encouraging Muslims to fight the Western powers during WWI. It's sort of like the difference between, oh, say hamburgers and Shostakovich. They're just different.

    But, I am coming to think you really cannot grasp things like this that the average eight-year-old has no trouble grasping.

    I am beginning to grasp that you honestly cannot see the distinction! In your brain, it is all just one big muddle -- distinctions like this just do not exist, do they?

    Corvy also wrote:

    [Dave]“If you insist on allying with a very, very evil guy to defeat an even more evil guy, the logic of your position would call for allying with Hitler against Stalin!”

    [Corvy]The larger threat clearly was Germany, as Germany invaded France and set their sights on Great Britain.
     
    Except... that is factually just not what happened, Corvy! (I was going to say "as you know," but I am now coming to realize you really do not know: you really are totally ignorant of history!)

    You quoted me as referring to Hitler, which sets the context as 1939. There is no indication that Hitler had his "sights" on either France or Britain in 1939. On the contrary, it was the two Western powers who declared war on Germany.

    Hitler was a monster: I am not defending Nazi Germany. But all of Hitler's moves were into Eastern Europe, until the Western powers declared was on him. He evidently hoped the Western powers would let him get away with what he wanted to do in Eastern Europe. The idea that the Nazis "set their sights on Great Britain" prior to Britain declaring war on Germany is ludicrous.

    You really do not know any of this, do you, Corvy? And you are too stubborn to learn from people who do know something.

    This thread has succeeded in measuring you, Corvy, and the results are very revealing. Anytime you post anywhere on this website, we can all just point back to this thread to prove that you actually cannot help being what you are, sad as it is.

    You have unwittingly revealed the truth about yourself.

    During the Great War, by 1917 all the warring nations were trying to bribe all the uninterested into getting involved. E.g., Germany was encouraging Mexico to invade Texas (but not California, that was for Japan). The British were promising Palestine to the Jews and to the Arabs. When the German Foreign Office heard about the Balfour Declaration, they thought it was a great idea and wanted to give Palestine to the Zionists too, until their Ottoman allies reminded them that they owned Palestine so the Germans couldn’t give it away.

    I think the Germans wanted to stir up jihad against the Brits in the Muslim parts of India and/or in Africa and against the Russians in the Caucasus, although I think they had trouble getting those off the ground.

    Anyway 1917 was kind of a peak year for geopolitical fantasists, like Lawrence of Arabia.

    In a Waugh novel, old adventurer Basil Seal can’t get hired when WWII breaks out, so he sits down at his sister’s estate to write a book. I think it’s about why Britain must seize strategically-essential Liberia.

    Churchill was always coming up with schemes like that during WWII. The Americans stopped listening to him after awhile, so they missed his good ideas that were mixed in with his many bad ideas.

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    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    Steve Sailer wrote to me:

    I think the Germans wanted to stir up jihad against the Brits in the Muslim parts of India and/or in Africa and against the Russians in the Caucasus, although I think they had trouble getting those off the ground.
     
    Probably. I'm sure that by 1917 the Germans would have been happy to have Martians attack the Entente powers had they been able to scare up any Martians!

    However, the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans actually did occur: any normal history of the ramifications of WWI outside of Europe is going to talk about the Allies' attempts to incite various groups against the Ottomans rather than Corvinus' fantasies about the Central Powers enlisting Muslims against the Allies. I.e., while I am sure the Germans would have liked to cause as much trouble as possible for the Allies in the Mideast, what actually happened is that the Allies stirred up trouble against the Ottomans -- lots and lots of trouble, in fact, which helped destroy the Ottoman Empire.

    Similarly about Corvinus' fantasies that WWII was due to the Nazis having "their sights on Great Britain." Hitler had has sights on Eastern Europe. There is no sign he wanted war with Britain, until Britain forced the point by declaring war over Poland.

    What I find frustrating with Corvinus is that all of these facts are independent of whose side you are on: after all, pretty much no one today is on Hitler's side. I doubt that many Brits even at that time claimed that Hitler's real goal was to conquer Britain (i.e., before Britain declared war): the Brits casus belli was, after all, his invasion of Poland -- i.e., Hitler's goals in Eastern Europe.

    I have, however, honestly come to the conclusion that Corvinus' mind does not work in such a way that he believes there are facts independent of the side one chooses to commit oneself to.

    And, I suppose I just need to accept the fact that this manner of mental functioning is far more common than I would like to think.

    All the best,

    Dave

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  175. @Steve Sailer
    During the Great War, by 1917 all the warring nations were trying to bribe all the uninterested into getting involved. E.g., Germany was encouraging Mexico to invade Texas (but not California, that was for Japan). The British were promising Palestine to the Jews and to the Arabs. When the German Foreign Office heard about the Balfour Declaration, they thought it was a great idea and wanted to give Palestine to the Zionists too, until their Ottoman allies reminded them that they owned Palestine so the Germans couldn't give it away.

    I think the Germans wanted to stir up jihad against the Brits in the Muslim parts of India and/or in Africa and against the Russians in the Caucasus, although I think they had trouble getting those off the ground.

    Anyway 1917 was kind of a peak year for geopolitical fantasists, like Lawrence of Arabia.

    In a Waugh novel, old adventurer Basil Seal can't get hired when WWII breaks out, so he sits down at his sister's estate to write a book. I think it's about why Britain must seize strategically-essential Liberia.

    Churchill was always coming up with schemes like that during WWII. The Americans stopped listening to him after awhile, so they missed his good ideas that were mixed in with his many bad ideas.

    Steve Sailer wrote to me:

    I think the Germans wanted to stir up jihad against the Brits in the Muslim parts of India and/or in Africa and against the Russians in the Caucasus, although I think they had trouble getting those off the ground.

    Probably. I’m sure that by 1917 the Germans would have been happy to have Martians attack the Entente powers had they been able to scare up any Martians!

    However, the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans actually did occur: any normal history of the ramifications of WWI outside of Europe is going to talk about the Allies’ attempts to incite various groups against the Ottomans rather than Corvinus’ fantasies about the Central Powers enlisting Muslims against the Allies. I.e., while I am sure the Germans would have liked to cause as much trouble as possible for the Allies in the Mideast, what actually happened is that the Allies stirred up trouble against the Ottomans — lots and lots of trouble, in fact, which helped destroy the Ottoman Empire.

    Similarly about Corvinus’ fantasies that WWII was due to the Nazis having “their sights on Great Britain.” Hitler had has sights on Eastern Europe. There is no sign he wanted war with Britain, until Britain forced the point by declaring war over Poland.

    What I find frustrating with Corvinus is that all of these facts are independent of whose side you are on: after all, pretty much no one today is on Hitler’s side. I doubt that many Brits even at that time claimed that Hitler’s real goal was to conquer Britain (i.e., before Britain declared war): the Brits casus belli was, after all, his invasion of Poland — i.e., Hitler’s goals in Eastern Europe.

    I have, however, honestly come to the conclusion that Corvinus’ mind does not work in such a way that he believes there are facts independent of the side one chooses to commit oneself to.

    And, I suppose I just need to accept the fact that this manner of mental functioning is far more common than I would like to think.

    All the best,

    Dave

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  176. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @PhysicistDave
    Anonymous wrote:

    I don’t know, man. I got a 5 on BC in the early 80s. And the textbook was not Spivak, but Thomas Finney and was AP oriented.
     
    The point that a number of us are making here is that getting a 5 on AP Calc BC does not show you are good at calculus.

    Yeah, if you diligently studied Spivak, you might actually have gotten a lower score on the AP than by studying Finney: as you say Finney is "AP oriented." But, Spivak is a truly great book. Finney, as you imply, is a test-prep book.

    Of course, if all you care about is your score rather than knowledge, you got what you wanted.

    I’ve had no problems with my basic toolkit in calculus in later courses. It served me fine.

    That’s interesting that you think E&M is easier than Mechanics, but it is nonrepresentative.

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  177. Anon says: • Disclaimer
    @Corvinus
    "Obviously they test skills (mostly critical thinking), which is why you can cram for a week and pass if you’re good at test-taking, which is exactly what JackD said."

    Depends upon how much prior knowledge one has, as well as their skill level in writing analytical essays. You seem to believe that good at test taking + cramming = success. That is not necessarily true.

    http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/cramming-for-a-test-don-t-do-it-237733

    http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140917-the-worst-way-to-learn

    We’re not talking about tests in general, but about AP World History. See comment #126.

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  178. Corvinus says:
    @PhysicistDave
    Corvy wrote to me:

    [Dave] “And, what on earth is this truly bizarre fantasy you have that “Imperial Germany–it openly encouraged Muslims to wage war against Great Britain and France during World War 1…”?”

    [Corvy] No bizarre fantasy at all. Opinionator suggested that Germany prior to World War I had little issue with British and French colonies, which is other than accurate. In 1908, Germany sought to expand its empire at the expense of the French in Morocco and French Congo.
     
    You are getting really freaky here, Corvy. Yes, prior to WWI, the Germans did indeed have disagreements with the Western powers on colonial matters.

    But that is not what you said earlier. Earlier, you said, as I quoted above, “Imperial Germany–it openly encouraged Muslims to wage war against Great Britain and France during World War 1…”

    And, that is just the opposite of the truth. In truth, it was the Brits who urged Arabs to fight against the Central Powers, specifically against the Ottoman Empire. You have it exactly backwards.

    I think (okay, I used to think) that you have the capability to tell the difference between, on the one hand, Germany disagreeing on colonial issues prior to WWI with the Western powers and, on the other hand, Germany supposedly encouraging Muslims to fight the Western powers during WWI. It's sort of like the difference between, oh, say hamburgers and Shostakovich. They're just different.

    But, I am coming to think you really cannot grasp things like this that the average eight-year-old has no trouble grasping.

    I am beginning to grasp that you honestly cannot see the distinction! In your brain, it is all just one big muddle -- distinctions like this just do not exist, do they?

    Corvy also wrote:

    [Dave]“If you insist on allying with a very, very evil guy to defeat an even more evil guy, the logic of your position would call for allying with Hitler against Stalin!”

    [Corvy]The larger threat clearly was Germany, as Germany invaded France and set their sights on Great Britain.
     
    Except... that is factually just not what happened, Corvy! (I was going to say "as you know," but I am now coming to realize you really do not know: you really are totally ignorant of history!)

    You quoted me as referring to Hitler, which sets the context as 1939. There is no indication that Hitler had his "sights" on either France or Britain in 1939. On the contrary, it was the two Western powers who declared war on Germany.

    Hitler was a monster: I am not defending Nazi Germany. But all of Hitler's moves were into Eastern Europe, until the Western powers declared was on him. He evidently hoped the Western powers would let him get away with what he wanted to do in Eastern Europe. The idea that the Nazis "set their sights on Great Britain" prior to Britain declaring war on Germany is ludicrous.

    You really do not know any of this, do you, Corvy? And you are too stubborn to learn from people who do know something.

    This thread has succeeded in measuring you, Corvy, and the results are very revealing. Anytime you post anywhere on this website, we can all just point back to this thread to prove that you actually cannot help being what you are, sad as it is.

    You have unwittingly revealed the truth about yourself.

    “But that is not what you said earlier. Earlier, you said, as I quoted above, “Imperial Germany–it openly encouraged Muslims to wage war against Great Britain and France during World War 1…”

    I have been consistent in what I wrote. Opinionator made the claim that Germany was willing to accept British and French colonies. Prior to and during World War I, as well as in the 1930′s, Germany engaged in actions that contradict his statement.

    “In truth, it was the Brits who urged Arabs to fight against the Central Powers, specifically against the Ottoman Empire. You have it exactly backwards.”

    No. The Ottoman Empire sought protection from Great Britain; the offer was rejected. The Ottoman Empire then carried out a surprise attack against Russia in October 1914. Perceived aggression by France and Great Britain in the 1880′s against the interests of the Ottoman Empire led Abdul Hamid II, the last Sultan, to welcome German support, who encouraged it to resist against these two European powers.

    “rather than Corvinus’ fantasies about the Central Powers enlisting Muslims against the Allies.”

    The Central Powers enlisted the help of the Ottoman Empire. Of course, not all Muslims in the region were on board, so some worked with the British and French against the Ottoman Empire and the Central Powers.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman%E2%80%93German_alliance

    “There is no sign he wanted war with Britain, until Britain forced the point by declaring war over Poland.”

    Hitler clearly understood that taking over Europe, including France, would inevitably draw Great Britain into war.

    “I doubt that many Brits even at that time claimed that Hitler’s real goal was to conquer Britain (i.e., before Britain declared war): the Brits casus belli was, after all, his invasion of Poland — i.e., Hitler’s goals in Eastern Europe.”

    Hitler’s goals was to dominate Europe. He carefully concealed his plans. There was little fear among the British and French, for their own leaders remained unconcerned. HOWEVER, once Germany began seizing territory, either by mutual agreement (Austria) or by force (Sudetenland), increasing numbers of people in Great Britain and France became wary of his intentions, realizing that there had been a war fought just 20 years earlier and Germany itching for revenge considering it had to shoulder the blame and pay war damages.

    “And, I suppose I just need to accept the fact that this manner of mental functioning is far more common than I would like to think.”

    Projection is your strong suit.

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