Grade inflation in the Ivy Leagues (and their non-Ivy peers)

If these were Harvard students, all of them would have above-average grades

If these were Harvard students, all of them would have above-average grades

Sometimes my posts just re-write themselves.  This is me writing in May 2009:

Twenty years ago, a Stanford professor let me in on a little secret:  In a Lake Woebegone-ish way, all the students at Stanford are above average.  Truly.  The faculty was not allowed to fail anyone, so much so that, if it looked as if a student was failing, up to and including the final exam, the student was just “dropped out” of the class.  “A” grades were handed out like candy.  After all, Stanford got some of the best students in America.  You couldn’t let them, or their paying parents, down by giving them bad grades.  The notion that it might be good for them to compete against others as smart as they were, so as to winnow out the best of the best, was anathema.

And this is the latest report on the grade scam in the Ivy Leagues:

Life is very, very good for the select few who gain entrance to Harvard University as undergraduates. Thanks to Harvey Mansfield, the very rarest of phenomena, an outspokenly conservative member of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the world now knows that the average grade at Harvard College (the undergraduate portion of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences) is A minus.

Read the rest here, because Thomas Lifson has written a long, fact-filled, analytical post about the Ivy League (and comparable colleges) scam.

About those Hollywood smarties

I went to NBC’s site looking for something else entirely, and got waylaid by a link to Hollywood brainiacs.  I found it somewhat interesting, at least initially.  Before I begin, though, let me say that I’m absolutely certain a lot of the actors and actresses profiled are indeed really, really smart.  Having said that, there were two things that caught my eye:

1.  NBC has a clear institutional bias:  with only two exceptions (NYU and UCLA), the only people in Hollywood that NBC thinks are “smart” are the who went to Ivy League schools or Stanford.  Apparently any other universities just don’t cut the smart mustard.  As someone who knows lots of smart people who didn’t go to the Ivy Leagues, and a fair number of not-so-brights who did, I found this a peculiar line to draw.  This is especially true because many of these stars were drop-outs.  I’m more impressed with someone who graduates from, say, the University of Florida summa cum laude, than with someone who can’t hack it at the Ivies.

2.  A disproportionate number of NBC’s “smart” stars are Columbia grads or Columbia attendees.  Columbia is an interesting place.  It used to be a very Jewish university.  It is now one of the universities must hostile to Jews and to any conservative thought.  Ahmadinejad is welcome there; Ann Coulter is not.  Now, Ann may display a certain lack of tact in what she says, but she’s no Ahmadinejad when it comes to inflammatory statements.  And unlike Ahmadinejad, she doesn’t have a nuclear arsenal to back up those same statements.  Yet she is not welcome at Columbia, and he is. I pay very little attention to the lives of individual Hollywood people and, in fact, hadn’t heard of many of the names on the list, so I have no idea what their personal politics and beliefs are.  I just find it interest that so many of them attended college distinguished for its far-Left, antisemitic politics.

After finding the above two strands, I got bored, and didn’t bother to see if there were any other patterns linking those “smart” stars.  Do you see any?