Most people’s career trajectory will be set by the time they are in high school, so the importance of secondary school education and resources of your parents is paramount.
Also, wealth from family of origin allows risk taking, funding for law or medical degrees, which for lower income students represent a huge risk so they go to safer less lucrative fields.
I think family culture, peer pressure and the school pushing you to go the hard path is by far the most important factor (for equivalent skills).
The thing is, every year you stay at school is a year that you're a financial drain to your family and a year that you're not being an active money earner. For many, it's simply not affordable to be in their formative years until they are 22 (likely even longer if studies take more than 4 years, they in practice need a masters/phd in their field to succeed, or if they fail and have to retake some subjects).
At least in my country, the system is simply not made in a way that can support a person studying and working at the same time, for a variety of reasons (lack of part time, weekend or flexible jobs, amount of work that one has to do at home, uni schedules that don't account for job-study balance, etc).
On top of that, there's the apparently less important, but in practice enormous psychological pressure of not having an actual adult paycheck until well in your adult years.
A life where your friends that went through a fastest route to the job market are living with their SO, spending money in life experiences and traveling while you're 24 and still have to ask your parents for money to have a beer, eat at mcdonalds or go to the movies (knowing they can't afford much on top of that), or where you can't take a girl to your house because you still live with your parents... it's basically assuming that you'll have to live like a teenager until you're almost 30.
It might be hard to finance all your university expenses by yourself, but you can definitely cover a lot without any real impact on your studies. Just be more effective with your free time, which is an invaluable lesson for rest of the life on its own.
Europe is quite diverse, so your experience might be very different, but here part time jobs are really scarce, and as I said even if you find one it is quite likely that you won't be able to fit it with your uni schedule.
Most degrees have a schedule where theory is taught in the morning and practical classes in the evening or the other way around: For chemistry students for example that would be theoretical classes and laboratories, but an ill-conceived attempt at uniformity made it so that even for fully theoretical degrees like math you still have those "practical laboratories" where you'd basically just be going through exercises. Attendance is mandatory for everything.
> It might be hard to finance all your university expenses by yourself, but you can definitely cover a lot without any real impact on your studies. Just be more effective with your free time
While you are right that you can ease the load (summer break jobs are certainly doable), even if you're able to do that, for many people just taking care of part of the cost (or even all) isn't enough. It's not only about higher education having a cost, it's also about the cost of opportunity, since their potential income is needed at home. A year studying might be a year that the family can't afford turning the heating on in winter, or mom being unable to go to the dentist, or your sister not having new clothes. The student sees that every single day while knowing that if they just forget about uni and get a job wherever, they can start solving those problems straight away. It's clearly not the best long term decision financially, but the humane factor is crucial and hard to explain unless you've been there.
For example, I've known people who have been hired at very prestigious law firms, and told outright that they were pleased to see they attended a "very good" (i.e. elite) high school.
Meanwhile, in the USA a friend has to deal with $300k+ costs of pursuing Medicine while living in the Bay area. They are from a wealthy family though.
Amazed to learn this, as a middle-class American with kids and a house -- my biggest expense, ten years out of school, is still student loans.
My parents had similar higher education and did not deal with this. Not trying to get into politics or anything. It is just weird.
Why not make an agreement with acquaintances that they fund (a part of) the tuition fees of your degree course. On the other hand you have to give them back a percentage of your gross income for the next, say, 10 years after finishing university. This should mitigate the problem a lot.
I come from what I consider to be a comfortable middle-class background in the US (probably not what most people would consider upper-middle class), and there's no way I would have been able to raise tens of thousands of dollars a year from acquaintances to fund an elite education.
That gets me about 10% of the way to one year's tuition at an elite university.
I don't know what your background is, maybe you consider $1000 a small loan, or maybe like the current president of the USA you consider $1000000 a small loan.
Suffice it to say that your proposal is not at all realistic for many many many people.
Lawyer jokes are ancient it seems.
If for some reason you don’t make it through Med or Law school, it’s not like they forgive the debt.
Many of the engineers went on to become quite wealthy from their startups.
Getting a traineeship at the time (this was the 1990s) was often heavily influenced by connections and appearance!
I highly recommend you read the entire article. It presents a lot of very good points that are relevant with regard to the macro-structure of the new American economy.
There is a whole discipline called behavioral genetics that uses twin and adoption studies and, increasingly, genome wide association studies (GWAS) to tease these things apart. Most of these studies seem to point to most outcomes being about half genetic and half random (that is, something other than the environment created by the parents).
B) Taleb is the exact embodiment of the “intelligent, yet idiot” description that he so loves to level against others. He is ridiculed by pretty much every intelligence researcher and behavioral geneticist who is aware of his take on IQ. Recently I witnessed him arguing on Twitter that the Justinian plague was not the Black Death. They’re both caused by the same bacteria, yersinia pestis. Find a better intellectual hero.
3. You can also find various comments on ideas of intellectual superiority in Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel.
My bottom line is that I see no reason to believe humans can diverge in terms of intelligence over the span of a few generations. Social darwinism is a ridiculous pseudo-scientific idea that gets traction only with people that think they fall on the right side of the IQ divide.
Btw, could you give some examples of researchers that treat IQ seriously and consider it has a strong genetic component?
This is not "some researchers" who hold the opinion that IQ has a strong component, it is literally the entire field of behavioral genetics (basically the only field that seriously studies the genetic basis of human behavior and psychology).
Regarding how long it takes for significant evolution to occur: human generations have historically been about 20 years long, which makes 1000 years about 50 generations. As a point of reference, humans have created entire new breeds of domesticated animals in as short as 50 years (a similar number of generations). Darwin has several examples in The Origin of Species and a Russian scientist bred tame foxes in about the same amount of time. The speed of evolution is dependent on a lot of factors, but on its face, the idea that groups of humans facing different selection pressures would not somehow differentiate is silly (and they clearly have; that's why you can look at someone and have a pretty good idea of what part of the world their ancestors come from). But for a more concrete example of a shorter time period, the Han Chinese have been rice farmers for several thousand years, whereas African pygmies have been foragers and hunter-gatherers during that same time. Both groups would face significantly different selection pressures. Hunting and foraging skills would be essentially useless to rice farmers and a propensity toward uncontrolled violence would likely get them killed by a local ruler trying to maintain peace among his tax base. Hunter-gatherers would have no use for the ability to keep accounting records or a class of women made economically unproductive via the practice of foot binding.
> Most of the document is just a rant, but he does make some quantitative claims, which is good. I investigate the veracity of these claims using real data.
> All the claims from the article that I looked at, that can be interpreted as something specific and tested in a real data set, turned out not to be correct. If Taleb hadn’t blocked everyone who disagrees with him, perhaps he would have found out about this, and not published a post with all these incorrect claims.
EDIT: If 'being good with money' is an issue, for example if lottery winners don't spend their winnings on their kids, then an alternative would be to look at the successes of children who are adopted in to wealthy families.
I’ve become convinced that meritocracy as the Yale Law elites would know it has utterly failed 99% of Americans.
Meritocracies are insidious. We can see it in some societies; "this is a meritocracy" therefore rich powerful people deserve their wealth and power and the poor and powerless have only themselves to blame and deserve no help. A positive feedback cycle through the generations that leads to a stratified society of nobility and peasantry.
While meant to criticize the tri-tracked educational system as a potential given that the dystopia was a replacement for the class system even if bad it fails to make a case for it being worse than literal nobility and connections to posh schools and old money.
It falls utterly flat like calling Oliver Cromwell the first military dictator in England while ignoring the kings.
Self perpetuating in negative ways is certainly a problem (there is a vast difference between being ahead because your family taught you and being aheas because competing with you is illegal) but it needs to be taken in the context of the now. What is the alternative is the real question of importance.
Working class folks, environmentalists, labor leaders, anarchists and socialists, even fairly mainstream Dems were criticizing that a pure free trade model was letting capital gain too much power at the expense of people (especially as people are locked behind borders largely), locking developing countries into unsustainable and brutal debt and austerity programs, and resulting in inequality ramping up.
These days, it would be nearly unthinkable to have that many people in the streets at a WTO meeting (never-mind that they shifted the meetings to far away authoritarian countries).
Granted, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren do sound more critical of unfettered capitalism and the idea that capitalism is a meritocracy than Bill Clinton and Barack Obama did (and so does Trump, in his own way), but they haven't been elected yet.
It seemed timed at least partially a result of the old order being upset at their heritage not being the gatekeeper it once was.
The Ivy Leagues have a long history of pssudomeritocracy in the form of moving goalposts to favor the legacies whenever an upstart group gains "too much" of a share. It is reminiscent of the Jewish quotas of old and they were indeed targetted
> To live in this way is, quite literally, to use oneself up. Such a life proceeds under a pervasive shadow: at its worst, it squanders the capacity to set and pursue authentically embraced, intrinsically valued, goals; even at its best, this life invites deep alienation.
With alienation they probably mean something like not seeing your parents, friends, family, etc for years. The proposed solution to this dilemma is then presented in the key paragraph:
> The new aristocracy promotes human flourishing for no one: certainly not for the excluded rest; nor even for the ensnared rich. We are trained to think of economic inequality as presenting a zero sum game: to suppose that redistribution to benefit the bottom must burden the top. But this is not such a case: reforms that democratize training and talent would benefit everybody. Such democratic reforms would restore the bulk of Americans to full participation in an economic and social order from which they have been, for several decades now, increasingly excluded. And democratic reforms invite the elite—you all—to accept an almost costless diminution in wealth and status in exchange for a massive, precious increase in leisure and liberty, a reclaiming of your authentic selves.
If one is to feel good about meritocracy, it is that the ambitious, talented and hardworking have the greatest chance of changing the system for everyone's shared benefit.
It seems to me that this pileup against meritocracy is primarily about personal rewards, and not about utility to society.
He's also now published a book, The Meritocracy Trap:
It certainly makes sense for the wealthy, elite lawyers of a society to set the course of policy. But I'm not sure what the empirical evidence from 2019 America says. I think a lot of these Yale graduates end up becoming cogs in the existing system without actually changing it, and I think other forces might be equally as or more impactful in terms of shaping political currents.
Get off your high horse.
You should read The Meritocracy Trap by Daniel Markovits: https://www.themeritocracytrap.com/
The author is actually a Yale Law Professor, and the book came out about a month ago.
I can't agree that it was just a self congratulatory speech. You have to speak to your audience. Some degree of pandering is expected and necessary. And, the final message was still very clear: here are the problems, you folks are supposed to be the best and the brightest, work towards finding the solution.
Whatever else, you have to admit that's one damn well written speech.
It seemed to have been mocking the language of the speech when there really isn't anything objectively wrong with the speech. The speech was in a high register but I thought it was very concise. The parody in the comment on the other hand seems to try to immitate religious language, and didn't attack the speech but the speakers and their values. It's as if the commenter perceives the academic register used in the speech as marking its contents unworthy of engaging with, the ivory tower ramblings of the elites as nonsensical and contemptible as religious rhetoric. This sort of contempt for everything associated with the upper class leads to the kind of cultural destruction we saw in Communist revolutions.
Hate the elite all you want but the culture they embody is also your culture; don't cut off your nose to spite your face.