Theoretically elite colleges select people with very high scores on the college entrance exam, thus select very smart people, thus our ruling elite is composed of very smart people.
There are two problems with this story. One is that they do not in fact select people with very high scores on the college entrance exam, and the other is that during the 1990s, high scores on the college entrance exam frequently ceased to correlate with being very smart.
LSAT is pretty much an IQ test, and if colleges aim for a high LSAT score, they are aiming for a high IQ student body, but during the 1990s SAT and PSAT ceased to correlate strongly with IQ, suggesting a loss of enthusiasm for dangerously smart students.
From the 1900s to the 1990s, college entrance exams in the US have been in large part test of IQ. Now, not so much.
At the same time as the change in testing, we see elite institutions taking in large numbers of students that seem to be pretty dumb: Thus, for example, Claremont McKenna College was admitting people that could not read, and faking up their test scores. The elite magnet school Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria lowered the questions on its entrance exam so that they were two years below grade, which is to say, suitable for people of well below average IQ.
The reaction of the various elite institutions to the Claremont scandal suggests that they are all guilty of faking up their intake test scores, and are more alarmed by the prospect that their own misconduct might come to light, than the prospect that the Claremont scandal might cast doubt on their own eliteness.
From 1928 to 1970, there was concern that affluent white males tended to do rather better on the tests than most, and there were innumerable efforts to fix this problem, but in the end, the only solution that proved satisfactory was taking race and sex explicitly into account, which solution was implemented. For some reason, in the US they lost interest in fixing the problem that affluent white males tended to do well, and were content to merely fix the problem that white males tended to do well.
Having fixed the problem that they cared about, they had no reason to move away from selecting for IQ, but manifestly they are. There must be a new problem that they care about.
The Thomas Jefferson scandal gives us a hint. They lowered their exam questions to make them suitable for applicants of below average IQ at the same time as they adjusted their recruitment procedures to recruit primarily for political correctness.
When academies first started recruiting on political correctness, they asked the candidate to submit an essay describing himself. Naturally, students took a look at what essays worked, and what essays did not, and swiftly discovered that what was required was an essay explaining how left wing one was. So pretty soon all the smart kids were submitting plausible and convincing essays that they were the second coming of Karl Marx. So the essay ceased to be a useful indicator of leftism, though it was reasonably well correlated with IQ.
So academies then started emphasizing extracurricular activities. Naturally, students took a look at what extracurricular activities worked, and what extracurricular activities did not, and swiftly discovered that what was required was extracurricular activities demonstrating how left wing one was. So pretty soon all the smart kids had manufactured organizations that generated the appearance of pursuit of various supposedly noble causes, without requiring much actual work for these supposedly noble causes. So the extracurricular activity ceased to be a useful indicator of leftism, though it was reasonably well correlated with IQ.
So the academies asked for “student information sheets” and these cannot be reverse engineered as the essays and extracurricular activities were, because the students do not get to see them, so cannot discover what constitutes a report that is useful for getting into an elite institution, nor how to manipulate teachers into generating such reports.
When an academy switches to heavily weighting “student information sheets”, it tends to recruit stupid students, as in the Thomas Jefferson scandal, indicating that the desired characteristic in the reports does not merely fail to correlate with intelligence, but correlates negatively with intelligence. From this I conclude that the report that gets you into an elite institution says, in effect, that the student swallows the political propaganda he is taught mindlessly and unthinkingly.
Islamic theocracies have a similar problem with adverse selection, in that the holiest tend to be the most stupid.
Tags: Not the cognitivie elite