Moneyball for Life

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Michael Lewis (Moneyball) pens an imaginary letter from Harvard Admissions to the Harvard Management Company about what traits predict whether a student will accumulate a Wall Street fortune — and then share it with the school:

Self-importance. The odds that a child will make outlandish sums of money when he grows up turns out to be strongly correlated with his willingness to challenge adult authority when that authority does not give him exactly what he wants. At bottom, he does not accept any authority higher than himself.

An extreme need for external validation. By sifting teacher recommendations for such phrases as “intellectual passion” and “an ability to lose himself in a subject,” and avoiding the students so described, we can locate those students most likely to have achieved high grades for the so-called wrong reasons. Above all we will seek to avoid students who think they have some “calling,” as they are anathema to Harvard’s mission.

The X factor. It consists, in part, of the ability to seem to be a selfless collaborator while in fact acting in a narrowly selfish manner.

We in admissions can almost hear you in Harvard Management thinking: It’s all well and good to find future billionaires, but that is only half the battle. How do we persuade them to share their fortune with Harvard? Herein lies the beauty of our algorithm. The very qualities in children most likely to lead them to great financial fortune also render them predisposed, as adults, to giving those fortunes to rich universities, instead of, say, charitable organizations that actually need the money. They weren’t put on earth to alleviate human suffering, or to make it a different and better place. They were put on earth to erect a building with their name on it, in a place it can be seen and admired by other people like them!

Harvard has already performed this analysis, Steve Sailer says:

The reason Harvard is still Harvard is because they invested a lot of talent in the 20th Century into statistical analyses of whom to admit.

Years ago, an anonymous commenter at iSteve asserted that he had held this exact job of moneyballing which kind of students were likely to donate to the Famous University. And his models confirmed what you’d expect: the people most likely to write checks with a lot of digits to the alma mater are the ones the college would prefer not to admit if they weren’t so generous: white, male, jockish, legacy, fratty, and relatively conservative politically. He said the college would never admit this publicly, but the administration is very aware of the stats of who gives and who doesn’t.

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