Discussion of the Science article on gender differences in math test variance got me thinking. Since a test score is a noisy measure of some underlying ability, an unusually high score can come either from an unusual high ability, or from an unusually positive measurement error (or both). If higher male score variance is due more to a higher male ability variance than to a higher male measurement error variance, then a high female score is more likely to be due to measurement error than is the same high male score. If so,
Yes, academic credentials, particularly more difficult and relevant ones, are much stronger evidence than these minor factors, and have fewer harmful effects.
That's why one doesn't need to postulate exotic hypotheticals to imagine using them to eke out tiny bits of incremental validity at the expense of serious equity problems.
I specifically mentioned a hypothetical "absurdly mission-critical application," i.e. one in which one needed to maximize the accuracy of your predictions at the expense of other considerationThis is fairly amusing. I take it as you totally aren't neglecting all of the much more significant factors, such as academic credentials and the like, in your absurdly mission-critical application?
LW discussion: http://lesswrong.com/r/disc...
If the ratio of female to male discount factors is less than 1, then doesn't this mean that female scores should be shrunk to the mean to a degree slightly less than the discount applied to male scores?
For examplediscount male 1600 to 1550discount female 1600 to 1575.
Thus, discount factor ratios would seem to favor high-scoring women and therefore isn't not discounting actually a bias AGAINST high scoring women.
Thank you, mirc
Let's say you begin discounting female SAT scores. Suddenly more than 90% of the applicants to competitive universities now claim on their applications to be male. What do you do then?
Easy. You can re-estimate the probability of maleness using the SAT score. A close to average SAT score may indicate a female claiming to be male. It's trivial to generalize Robin's adjustment formula to this case. :)
Yes it's the same person. However, it's good to know that you have better general data. Anecdotes just tell us that it sometimes happens, while you can apparently tell us how infrequently, e.g. very. I do know another person who checked as Hispanic based on very slight Mexican ancestry and a white guy who got put in an "African American Heritage Dorm" at Stanford, though this may have been a SNAFU, not the result of a lie.
I'm sure self-restraint plays a role, I just think that creativity and semi-legitimate fear play much bigger roles.
You ask: why don't people do this, but those same people may ask: do colleges do something to verify the checkboxes, at least in the most blatant cases? It would be very easy for them to do so; how is the high school student to know that they don't? That is what I mean by semi-legitimate fear.
Michael,Do you and Laura both know a specific individual indian that you know for a fact applied to a competitive academic program claiming to be black? I ask because I was privy to racial data at a universivity I attended (through a work-study job) and I was surprised when I looked at the racial data that I couldn't identify anyone that lied about being a minority (black and hispanic in particular). And like most decent universities, the school had a large indian population.
Also, if this happened with any noticeable frequency, I'm surprised I haven't read about any exposures.
So I'm skeptical. But if you both know the SAME indian, that would mitigate my skepticism a bit about this anecdote.
The degree to which Laura knows what she's talking about on the smaltz point is simply astounding, and definitely deserves attention. It's more general than admissions though. So many people set up systems that so richly reward lies for what seem like incredibly bad reasons. In general the world is filled with situations of mutual pseudo-deception where neither side is fooled and where common knowledge of nominal deception exists, but where outrage results if this knowledge is made explicit. To some extent even religion fits this bill, but so does much bureaucracy, such as much of airport security. The psychology is very hard for me to empathize with but probably relates to establishing membership/conformity/belonging.
She may exaggerate how frequently the race trick is played though, esp. by non-Indians.
I think that HA is right that the infrequency with which people lie about their race on college applications is worthy of serious study. It would be incredibly valuable to be able to create similarly strong taboos against other kinds of fraud. It's especially odd given that so many people consider the mere fact of gathering such data to be a form of oppression and could easily see themselves as simply fighting back and claiming what is theirs.
HA- Check with Mike Vassar. He knows her too.
Actually, this is all missing the point. One wouldn't need to lie about the cold facts on an application to a prestigious university- the essay would be enough. And you wouldn't even need to lie *per se,* just exaggerate certain opinions and use smaltzy language, like all applicants already do. Take it from someone who at this point could be considered a professional applicant with a good success record: it's not about truth and accuracy as Robin would have us believe. It's about telling them what they want to hear. If women and blacks lose a couple of points on the SAT, you better believe their essays will deal directly with the hardship of being considered a lesser human being, and how in spite of it all they've triumphed and *will* continue to do so no matter what the scores say, because they have looked the ugly demon of discrimination in the face and said, "No! Not today! I WILL cure cancer, for my grandmother, for my mother, for MYSELF, and NO ONE can tell me that my black skin or my uterus will stop me..." This drivel practically writes itself. Yet... That's what they WANT. REALLY. Hard to believe it, but I've talked to a lot people about college/MD/PhD essays, and the smaltz has repeatedly floated to the top, leaving any shred of true intention stuck to the bottom of the barrel. Here's the question: Why do admissions officers want so badly to be lied to?
" I knew an Indian girl who said she was 'black' on her applications. Since she had brown skin, she was never actively challenged, and who knows what kind of advantages she got as a 'black' over a typical Indian applicant."
Is this really true? Because I intuit that it has the hallmarks of a fabricated anecdote.
"People *do* try to get away with classifying themselves as 'minorities' all of the time."
The data indicates otherwise to me.
Doug, HA, et al-
People *do* try to get away with classifying themselves as 'minorities' all of the time. I knew an Indian girl who said she was 'black' on her applications. Since she had brown skin, she was never actively challenged, and who knows what kind of advantages she got as a 'black' over a typical Indian applicant.
When I said 'not yet covering it up,' I meant that people would deliberately carry a lie throughout the application, not just check one box. It's true that this is harder to do with gender... In a more absurd scenario, however, it wouldn't be that hard for narrower women to pass as effeminate men simply by getting crew cuts and dressing in shirts and ties. There was a woman in my previous lab who did this named 'Chris,' and I had no idea what her sex actually was for a good month. Shemale? HeShe? When I needed to refer to 'it', I always used 'Chris.' Finally, I caught on that the pronoun others used was 'she.' It's true for much more gynacoid types, like myself, it would be nearly impossible to pass as a man without major reconstructive surgery. Though I'm sure a talented enough make-up artist could make a believable male fat-suit that would cover up the incriminating body curves... Though this might worsen chances of admission. As geneticist James Watson said, "When you interview fat people, you feel bad, because you know you're not going to hire them."
Douglas, you start with "But I don't think "self-restraint" is the best way of thinking about it."
But then I think you move more in my direction with:
"But that leads to: why don't people experiment? They could check the box on only some applications, or just have different letter writers for different schools."
Exactly, the USA is a nation of 300 million, and these type decision moments probably occur for nations of additional hundreds of millions outside of the USA. That's a massive number of individuals engaging in self-restraint, and it seems to me elements of core identity (gender, race, perhaps religion and some other things) can cause these near perfect instances of individual self-restraint in populations of millions.
I think there is a behavorial economics of self-restraint which probably ties into repugnancy bias too. I hope to write more about this soon, but my time's up right now.
Fair enough. Now if anyone has evidence that disaggregating the two kinds of error I pointed out can be done cheaply with some degree of accuracy, then my other objection can be dismissed as well.