June 6, 2008

The Chinese college admissions test

Here's a description in Slate of the Chinese national college admissions test. It's about what you'd expect: long, heavy on memorization, somewhat arbitrary, and effective, as the economic growth statistics show. When you have that many hard-working smart kids to choose from, it's difficult to screw up the test too badly. Also, with over 90% of the Chinese identifying with one ethnic group, you don't have to worry much about minorities' complaints about the test being unfair to them -- you just hand them a few quota slots and get on with it.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

27 comments:

KlaosOldanburg said...

in the comments on that article, there are a few people who seem somewhat credible, who directly challenge various assertions put forth in the article.

one, which crossed my mind (not that i know anything about the chinese eduction system), is that the test is disproportionately focused on memorization. exactly how does one make a calculus or physics test memorization intensive? sure, you need to memorize the appropriate formulas, but remembering the formulas won't get you very far unless you understand how to apply them.

dearieme said...

When the Forces of Progress were well advanced in their ambition of buggering up the British schools, by - among other techniques - scrapping tests of academic ability, a wonderful lesson emerged, as follows. At about the same time there was a great politics-driven revival of the Welsh language, and so schools in Wales were allowed to have admissions tests in Welsh. Even though ability to master Welsh is not an obvious means of picking out your brightest and best, it's a good deal better than no test at all. In next to no time the schools with that admission test were clearly the best state schools available. So, dear American cousins, consider adopting admissions tests in any of your indigenous languages. You have lots to choose from.

Anonymous said...

I just read the article at Slate by Jacob Weisberg about how he had set up "The Root," a big web site for blacks and black issues.

Is Jacob Weisberg black?

John Craig said...

China's going to eat us for lunch by the end of this century. Given the higher, narrower bell curve describing their IQ distribution, they will have fewer of the 170+ IQs who are responsible for true technological innovation, but with the global economy (which necessitates technology sharing) this is less important than before. And given that their higher, narrower distribution averages out somewhere around 105, they will also have far fewer of the village idiot/ career petty criminal/ unemployable basket cases we have in this country. Even more importantly, they don't waste time worrying about human rights, pollution, global warming, Westerner's intellectual property rights, enforced equality of outcome among different ethnic groups, etc. (in fact they laugh at us for this last.) If you think of the country as a busy beehive with only one purpose in mind -- getting ahead economically -- you won't be too far off. I wouldn't want to live there, and I think their lack of concern about polluting is disturbing; but it does seem as if we're basically the last stages of the Roman Empire, and they're the tough Mongol hordes getting ready to attack (economically).

Y Draig Goch said...

> Even though ability to master
> Welsh is not an obvious means of
> picking out your brightest and
> best, it's a good deal better
> than no test at all

It's not just the test itself. The fact that schools that teach in Welsh have better academic standards and discipline has not gone unnoticed. Parents who want a good education for their children will ensure that their children learn Welsh - even though the parents themselves have no knowledge of it. So the competence-in-Welsh test is also selecting for motivated parents who will take an active interest in their child's education.

Ironically, the British government is currently moving heaven and earth to stop schools doing anything to bias admissions in favour of the academically able (the "equality of misery" policy), but the Welsh language stuff is protected by the same PC enforcers who hate and persecute selection based on academic merit.

The real trick is to present the admission requirement as protecting some endangered or persecuted minority (in this case, the Welsh language itself).

Clearly the US has its own indigenous languages that might be suitable but if you don't like them you could try Welsh - after all there's a steadily growing pool of smart, motivated, well educated speakers available :-)

Marc said...

China's going to eat us for lunch by the end of this century. Given the higher, narrower bell curve describing their IQ distribution, they will have fewer of the 170+ IQs who are responsible for true technological innovation,

Could you please cite a statistic for this? I see this bandied about all the time but no one ever cites a single study. Thanks.

scottynx said...

John Craig: Given the higher, narrower bell curve describing their IQ distribution

Due to their lesser diversity, the "narrower bell curve" point should be true. 1) Their minorities are far tinier than america's, and 2) the mean IQ differences between the different Chinese groups must be far less less than the huge disparities between America's groups, with Ashkenazic Jews and African Americans having phenomenal average IQ differences. Far more than China, the US doesn't even have one "true" bell curve, but a conglomeration of several partially overlapping bell curves with widely disparate means. I think this is a similar situation to one of the points in Sailer's "Interesting India, Competitive China" Vdare article.

(maybe one day Steve will be writing an "Interesting USA, Competitive China" article)

But if you mean that East Asians have a *significantly* narrower bell curve than *europeans*, then I do not agree. I have seen this significantly narrower east asian bell curve assertion a lot, but no one can ever point to a paper or any kind of proof whatsoever, and I have asked people asserting this many times. In fact, I remember the guys at gnxp.com debunking this hypothesis several years ago, but I can't find a link right now. Do you have any paper or link reviewing the statistical evidence? But, again, you may not have even meant this.

-pjgoober at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

"China's going to eat us for lunch by the end of this century."

Chinese immigrants and their offspring are already eating white Americans, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders for lunch.

Australia's skilled immigration program, for example, effectively favors high-IQ Chinese immigrants. And they have seized the opportunity with gusto to the extent that the Chinese are now the largest non-European minority group in Australia. If current trends continue, some are predicting that Australia will have an ethnic Chinese minority dominating the economy within a generation or two.

See:

Enter the Dragon: Australia Imports a New Elite

Anonymous said...

The article is so full of stereotypes, like the following:


Essentially, Chinese universities accept those students who are good at taking tests. This makes sense for an educational system historically oriented toward rote learning, where students are tested on how well they've memorized their teachers' lectures.


It can only have been written by an American.

Lucius Vorenus said...

John Craig: China's going to eat us for lunch by the end of this century.

You need to bone up on your demography - within five years or so, China's population will begin to contract [just like Japan's did a few years ago], and, circa mid-century, China will be barely a shell of its former self [by 2050, the population of what had been the USA will probably be surpassing China - with each nation at roughly 500 million people].

Sadly, though, owing to suicidal nihilism, this demographic collapse is happening everywhere in the civilized world [to include Blue State USA] - we haven't seen a worldwide loss of intelligence like this since Rome was depopulated in the early fifth century, when we had to suffer through a millenium of Dark Ages before we could build a new civilization which was a worthy successor.

John Craig: they're the tough Mongol hordes getting ready to attack

Tough Mongol hordes getting ready to attack is one possible future for China; our strongest & closest ally in the world is another possible future for China.

H. said...

As an English professor who taught in both China and Taiwan, I would argue that China's educational system is not as great as it seems. True, it is more effective than ours overall, and the Chinese do not bother with trying to create equality among results, which has been a major plague to American learning. Chinese minority students are admitted to higher ed. with lower scores, but they must return to their reservations after graduation. Chinese students are good at memorizing vocabulary items, but much less skilled at inventing their own discourses, and this characteristic applies, I believe, to Chinese performance in all fields of endeavor. Chinese suffer from many social ills, and are, in fact, becoming concerned about pollution as blue-green algae blooms in their shrinking water supplies. Formidable though China seems to be becoming, I don't quite see it ever "eating us for lunch," since it is dependent on us, and is unlikely to ever have the internal social stability to overcome us. Our own problems with minorities and a substandard educational system are, nonetheless, grounds for grave worry.

Anonymous said...

John Craig: where is the data to support a smaller standard deviation in Asian IQs? I see this claim all the time on the Internet but have never seen any data. (Some posters have been confused by misreading an old analysis by LaGriffe du Lion, which says nothing of the sort.)

Below is some relevant data I've posted before on another thread:

http://isteve.blogspot.com/2008/05/its-always-fun-to-see-my-work-refracted.html

Have a look at the pictures here of the last dozen or so US Mathematical Olympiad teams:

http://www.unl.edu/amc/e-exams/e8-usamo/picsusamo.shtml

and remember that the east Asian population in the US is only a few percent. You will see a tremendous overrepresentation at the HIGHEST levels of intelligence: the most recent team pictured looks to be half east Asian! That means the per capita representation at the highest level of math ability is > 20 times higher in the Asian-American population than in the population as a whole.

These competitions are probably better screens for genius than IQ tests designed by psychologists who are themselves of quite limited intelligence. The kids who make the US team are roughly 1 in a million in ability level (i.e., +5 SD or so). Although training does improve performance, anyone who makes the team is truly gifted.

If the Asian mean is 104 and SD 13, and the caucasian mean is 100 with SD 15, then at the 1 in a million level the per capita number of caucasians would be much much higher. (The crossover would be at only +2 SD using those values.) You can see from the USAMO results that this is far from true. (In fact, the opposite is true.)

The IMO results from 2007 are here:
http://www.srcf.ucam.org/~jsm28/imo-scores/2007/country-scores-order.html

Of the top 15 countries, half are east Asian (including tiny Hong Kong, which outperformed Germany, India and the UK).

PS If you look at verbal scores on the SAT, the Asian-Pacific Islander mean is only slightly below the non-Hispanic white mean, which is actually quite impressive since many of the A-PI's are immigrants from families where English is not the primary language. I wonder how immigrant kids from Europe to Japan would do on their equivalent of the SAT verbal?

http://math.rice.edu/~lanius/pres/eyh2000/gtech2000c.html

none of the above said...

dearieme:

This implies a pretty good proposal for setting up high-quality black schools in the US: Require an admissions test in Swahili or some such language. This will efficiently filter for both parents who care (who will get their kids to study this otherwise almost-useless subject), and students who are bright enough to learn the material.

My guess is that you could teach a fair bit of afrocentric nonsense alongside the real math, languages, English, and science, with little harm done. (The state-sponsored fairy tales I was taught in history/civics classes didn't seem to do me much harm, probably darker-shaded fairly tales will do little more harm.) And as with the Welsh schools, that school would be protected from any evil charges of elitism, and the students could throw the "acting white" charge right back in the faces of anyone. "Yeah, I go to the African school."

none of the above said...

I've heard the claim (from a Chinese person with firsthand experience) that it's pretty common for the children (usually only one child, note) of Chinese academics to not get into college, or not into a good college. This made me wonder if there was something interesting going on, given how different this pattern is in the US. I assume the heritability estimates for IQ are about the same for Chinese as Europeans; is there some other reason?

anony-mouse said...

Yet another reason why America needs more (Ashkenazi) Jews, hmmm? (At least if you've been reading the articles here.)

testing99 said...

Craig --

China's lack of rule of law and property rights, particularly intellectual property rights, chokes off innovation. With all their smarts, they have to copy the US or Japan, instead of innovate on their own.

Their imploding demographics, lack of women (Chinese men won't go gay and will drive aggression to steal neighbors women), and incestous, family dominated structures keeping the have-nots out, are going to create massive social strife.

Far greater than the US, which though it has a lot more troublesome aspects elsewhere, has a legal/cultural system that keeps conflict in check (enough), provides stability and predictability, and fairly predictable and sane legal system.

Anonymous said...

China is going to eat us for lunch?

According to the numbers I've seen, white-Americans outearn Chinese-Amerians on a per capita basis. On an international scale, the UK and semi-socialist EU outearns Taiwan economically.


According to McKinsey & Company Consulting:

"The problem is that few of the mainland's graduates have the foreign language skills, cultural fit or practical education necessary to work in a multinational company. According to interviews with human-resources professionals involved with hiring local graduates in low-wage countries, fewer than 10 per cent of mainland job candidates are suitable for work in a foreign company in occupations such as engineering, finance and accounting, quantitative analysis and support."

I have no doubt that China has a lot of really bright people, but fears of China taking over everything are bit overblown.

Lucius Vorenus said...

anonymous: I have no doubt that China has a lot of really bright people, but fears of China taking over everything are bit overblown.

No, and if we had a moral foreign policy [not to mention a moral immigration policy], then we would be moving aggressively to try to save China from its own nihilism - e.g. granting blanket amnesty to any young, fertile Chinese Christians who sought to escape the 1-Child policy.

BTW, did you know that Mao once offered Kissinger 10 million Chinese girls and that Kissinger turned him down?

Instead, we got 40 million [or more] illiterate aboriginal peasants from Central America.

Kissinger's blunder there might have been the single greatest error in the entire history of US foreign policy.

John Craig said...

I'm guilty as charged -- I can't cite a specific study about the higher, narrower East Asian bell curve, I am merely repeating what I too have heard over the years. Sloppy? Yes. I should have said "It is my impression that..." or "I've heard that...." rather than present it as fact. But I will say the higher-narrower theory makes sense. First of all, there's less variation in facial physiognomy, physique, and coloration than there is among whites, so why would you expect the same amount of variation on an internal feature such as the brain? Second, why have the Asians never come up with a Thomas Edison or a Nicola Tesla or Max Planck? I've heard all the arguments about how the culture breeds conformity, etc. but I don't quite buy it. The Japanese, who are obviously closely related to the Chinese, have long had a reputation as very clever imitators and miniaturizers, which they are, but not as originators. And yes, the Chinese invention of gunpowder and paper, but I can't rank those with the scientific breakthroughs of the West in the last two centuries. This pattern is exactly what you'd expect from a population with fewer in the 170+ range. Thirdly, I'll venture a guess that my experience with Japanese and Chinese-Americans is far;y typical: I almost never seem to meet dumb ones, but I also rarely meet ones who absolutely blow me away with their wit in the course of our conversations. (Granted, the subject of math doesn't usually come up.) Again, exactly what you'd expect from a population with a higher, narrower bell curve and also a higher mean.

This brings me to another point: the figures from the math Olympiad are compelling, but to what extent does that contest measure creativity? (I dont know, I'm just asking, I'm not familiar with it.) I've been using extremely high IQS as a proxy for scientific genius, but I know that correlation is far from perfect. The listed IQ numbers for a number of famous inventors (sorry, can't cite the study, but I have read this) are often surprisingly low (i.e., less than 150). My immediate reaction upon seeing those was, those scores must have been wrong; but it wasn't just one of the inventors, it was a few. So I should have been more specific about differentiating creative genius and IQ. But whatever genes it is which lead to the invention of the light bulb or the transistor or the H-bomb, they haven't appeared yet in the Asian population. On the other hand, I've seen studies showing that the average northeast Asian IQ is anywhere from 105 to 110 (again, can't cite the specific studies, but I have seen them). And a society like Japan's is what you'd expect from that: low crime rates, low illiteracy, high savings rates, a high average standard of living, and long life expectancy -- along with being the recipient rather than "donor" of the first A-bomb. Sure, there are other factors that feed into those statistics, but there's a strong correlation with IQ.

Lucius Vorenus -- Yes, China with its one child per family rule is going to contract. But they are not undergoing the same dysgenic trends that this country is, and I suspect that when the central planners who run China (and they are still in charge, despite the move to a free market economy) see that their decreasing population is hurting their international competitiveness, they will reverse it. Also, you left out the last word of my last statement: that the tough Mongol hordes are getting ready to attack ECONOMICALLY. They may well end up being our biggest ally, but what allies (i.e., trading partners) do is compete economically. I don't expect an invasion of the Chinese army; only of Chinese products.

Fair disclosure: for whatever it's worth, I'm half-Asian, so I'm not speaking with any enmity from either side, merely dispassionate observation. ("My father is Scottish, my mother is Japanese, so I actually come from two high-IQ races....I just look like a Puerto Rican.")

DissidentMan said...

No, and if we had a moral foreign policy [not to mention a moral immigration policy], then we would be moving aggressively to try to save China from its own nihilism - e.g. granting blanket amnesty to any young, fertile Chinese Christians who sought to escape the 1-Child policy.
Why should we be trying to save China from anything at all? Do you want China attempting to "save" the west from its own manifold and growing problems? Furthermore why should we let Chinese immigrate to the west simply because of religious affiliation? Don't illegal immigrant advocates already use the same argument for legalization? What would stop would-be immigrants from feigning Christian faith for selfish advantage? Your thinking (which has elements fo both messianism and credal-nationism) meshes well with my belief that Christianity was the beginning of PC.

Another question: what is wrong with China's one-child policy? Maybe they want to reduce their population density. What is that a bad thing?

DissidentMan said...

China's lack of rule of law and property rights, particularly intellectual property rights, chokes off innovation.
How does the ability to charge people for ideas, even when they are thought of completely independently, promote innovation? How do copyrights that last 70 years after the author's death, promote innovation? Maybe the Chinese don't want to pay for the priviliege of using the "Happy Birthday" song. In the US consitution it says that IP laws are intended to foster the useful arts. Why aren't the major proponents of IP laws interested in showing that that goal is actually accomplished? Maybe the whole idea of intellectual property is stupid BS, which might explain why the neocons have made a cause of it.

Lucius Vorenus said...

John Craig: ("My father is Scottish, my mother is Japanese, so I actually come from two high-IQ races....I just look like a Puerto Rican.")

Do you have a totally hot ultra-paleo-con sister who is single?

Or not necessarily single but at least amenable to the idea of ditching her current beau?

If so, then you need to warn her that all 20 of the children she makes with me will be homeschooled.

PS: You're wrong about some of the demographic stuff, but if your sister is totally hot, then I will let it slide.

Lucius Vorenus said...

DissidentMan: Why should we be trying to save China from anything at all?

So that the Chinese don't go extinct.

DissidentMan: Do you want China attempting to "save" the west from its own manifold and growing problems?

Yes, that would be wonderful.

[In point of fact, they already are "saving" us - who do you think has been sinking their hard-earned Yuan into our utterly worthless T-Bills and thereby subsidizing our hopelessly profligate lifestyles?]

DissidentMan: Furthermore why should we let Chinese immigrate to the west simply because of religious affiliation?

Because we love them and we don't want them to go exinct - we want them to survive and persist and thrive and live, not die.

Because Death is our enemy and it is our solemn duty to oppose Him with whatever means we have at our disposal.

Chas said...

Sadly, though, owing to suicidal nihilism, this demographic collapse is happening everywhere in the civilized world [to include Blue State USA]

This makes an important point - no matter what you think of our recent immigration policies, our current demographics are what they are. The government can change next year's immigration patterns but not last year's - and thanks to last year's patterns we now have a nation where about half the children born are minorities.

If you want to change this country's demographics much you're going to have to hop into bed with a willing partner and do it yourselves. There is no government solution - it's in your hands...er, loins.

So, dear American cousins, consider adopting admissions tests in any of your indigenous languages.

Interesting idea, but people in Wales have some motivation to learn Welsh - they're Welshmen, after all. There aren't too many Americans who care to learn Navajo. Make the tests in Latin or Greek or Gaelic - but not Navajo.

You will see a tremendous overrepresentation at the HIGHEST levels of intelligence: the most recent team pictured looks to be half east Asian!

Partly true, but still we overstate the importance of genes in this phenomenon. There are more than enough white Americans to outnumber the Asians on our Math Olympiad teams. There are far more of us way out on the edge in the iq bell curve. We in the US just show a disdain for the hard work which is needed in addition o intelligence. Kids in this country who spend 5 hours a day on math problems are considered anti-social freaks.

(Note: I see lots of Asian kids winning awards for music performance - and we've been seeing that for years now. But how many Asians do we see writing scores for movies or songs for musicals and albums?)

BTW, did you know that Mao once offered Kissinger 10 million Chinese girls and that Kissinger turned him down?

How is it that every third world craphole around knows that war these days is being waged demographically not militarily, yet our own overeducated, preening Harvard/Oxford-grad idiots can't figure it out?

along with being the recipient rather than "donor" of the first A-bomb.

The one transplant case in history where it was better to be the donor than the recipient.

How do copyrights that last 70 years after the author's death, promote innovation?

We have copyright laws in this country? Tell that to a teenager and watch him laugh. CD and DVD copyright protections sure don't do much good anymore, and declining CD sales are proving it. I feel no sorrow for Hollywood over it, though.

Hollywood's been teaching us for years to disrespect commerce and big business and this is their comeuppance.

What happens though when you have an economy with a large dependency on intellectual property rights fighting (economically - or otherwise) with a country economically dependent on manufacturing? Will we one day regret transferring all our manufacturing capacity to a country which doesn't respect our copyright and patent laws? Will we ever be able to get our manufacturing back?

Another question: what is wrong with China's one-child policy? Maybe they want to reduce their population density. What is that a bad thing?

In theory not a bad thing. The reality, though, is a top-heavy society with more old people (needing medical care, etc.) than young people, and a culture that perversely encourages many of them to kill their own daughters.

Thanks to demographics the next 40 years are going to be very interesting, indeed - in China, Europe, the US, Australia, Canada...

But like I said above - the demographic future is up to you, and fight for immigration reduction though I will, no change in government policy will alter that reality.

Anonymous said...

John Craig:

Your logic justifying the larger caucasian variance conflates all kinds of cultural and societal factors with genetic ones. If an ancient Roman (or Tang dynasty Chinese) looked at the scientific and intellectual accomplishments of Germanic people he might (wrongly?) conclude something about their genes, rather than the societal and historical setting.

Chas:

"There are more than enough white Americans to outnumber the Asians on our Math Olympiad teams. There are far more of us way out on the edge in the iq bell curve."

This is because Asians are a small minority of the population, or because of a supposedly larger standard deviation among caucasians?

Still awaiting some kind of evidence or data...

John Craig said...

Lucius -- (I feel we're on a first name basis now). Sorry, no sister. I appreciate the offer though.

Truth said...

"Do you have a totally hot ultra-paleo-con sister who is single?"

Lucius Vorenus, a wanna-be race traitor?

Say it aint' so!

SAY IT AIN'T SO!