Young, Gifted, and Not Getting Into Harvard

Cute piece about a Harvard alum's experience interviewing prospective students.

June travel

The first two weeks of June brought me to many places, including Boston for Margaret's graduation, Copenhagen for a Rotary convention, and San Diego for a wedding.

Harvard graduation Harvard commencement was much like my own graduation two years ago. It was raining lightly most of the day, making Harvard's insistence on outdoor commencement oh-so-much fun! At least Dunster house did not cram everyone into as tight a spot as Currier did. I remember that my family could barely see; people were packed in that close. I also got a chance to sample the excellent scotch selection available at the Harvard Club. Rahul directed me to a 30 year old single-malt scotch which was super smooth going down. Yum!

Phyllis in Copenhagen Next was Copenhagen. You really have to love the feel of that city. The architecture is very modern, but somehow they missed all the concrete monstrocities of the 60s and 70s. I learned my lesson about avoiding the bicyclists the first time I was in Copenhagen, so I managed to escape any further near run-ins. I only brought my camera along for one day in whcih we toured 3 different castles on "main" island of Denmark where Copenhagen is located: Kronberg, something-berg, and something-else-berg Frederiksborg, and Fredensborg. One of these castles was located in the town of Elsinore, the setting for Shakespeare's Hamlet.

Kelly and Brandon The final stop was in La Jolla, California for Hope and Dave's wedding. At right is a picture of my sister and her boyfriend Brandon. More pictures of all these events are available on my flickr account.

David Liu, card shark and tenured Harvard chemistry professor

Harvard's propaganda magazine, the Harvard Gazettte, actually has a rather amusing article this month about Harvard chemistry professor David Liu. Apparently, professor Liu has been banned from MGM Casinos in Las Vegas after winning too much money at blackjack. It's quite an entertaining read.

Summers' remarks released

Lawrence Summers' remarks have been released. I haven't had time yet to read them myself, but it sounds like this issue isn't going to die anytime soon among the Harvard faculty.


I've read through Summers' remarks and they say almost precisely what I expected them to. Which is, that in referring to women's innate aptitude in science, Summers based his argument on differences in the variability of aptitude between men and women.

Various news stories this morning (e.g. NYTimes) suggested that upon the release of Summers' remarks, some Harvard professors felt vindicated in claiming that Summers thinks women aren't as good at science as men. Summers never makes this claim, and I don't think he ever would. Summers is claiming that due to the larger variance in aptitude for men than for women, if you limit yourself to only selecting people at the very top end of the aptitude distribution, you will find more men than women.

Maybe more Harvard professors need to enroll in a basic statistics class.

And to add to my belief that by stirring the pot, Summers has done more for women in science than by not saying anything, look at this quote from the end of his remarks:

Let me just conclude by saying that I've given you my best guesses after a fair amount of reading the literature and a lot of talking to people. They may be all wrong. I will have served my purpose if I have provoked thought on this question and provoked the marshalling of evidence to contradict what I have said. But I think we all need to be thinking very hard about how to do better on these issues and that they are too important to sentimentalize rather than to think about in as rigorous and careful ways as we can.

Doubting Douthat

Interesting piece: The Harvard Crimson :: Doubting Douthat. The Crimson editorial staff respond to an Atlantic Journal article by Ross Douthat which shares some general reflections on his Harvard experience (see the Crimson article for a fairly good summary). I'm conflicted about what I think of Ross's article because it seems that many of his beefs with Harvard were the result of his own choices. Sure, you can find easy classes, but I found plenty of challenging courses which taught me a lot.

I suspect I'll have more to say about this after it has simmered for a while.

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