Posted on January 5, 2024

Amy Wax on Her Students

Steve Sailer, Unz Review, December 30, 2023

From an interview of Penn law professor Amy Wax by Richard Hanania:

Richard: Do you think, is there a sort of just, on the right, a resistance to genetics? Well, first of all, do you think it’s crumbling a little bit because I think your average smart, young conservative, … they’ve grown up with the internet. … So they’ve come across HBD. … they’ve read this stuff often.

My experience, and I’m talking to a highly selected group, and maybe you have a different experience here, my impression is that young, smart conservatives understand this stuff. Is that your impression or not?

Amy: The young, smart conservatives who are, you know, overwhelmingly male, by the way, who are aware of this stuff, they’re a very rarefied group. … I’m sorry to have to say it, right? Women really resist this. When I talk to students, well, in my university, which is an Ivy League university…

Penn’s law school ranks in the middle of the Top 14 law schools that provide most of the new lawyers who start working for Big Law firms at $175,000 or whatever.

Professor Wax teaches a year long class on Conservative Thought at Penn. It’s an elective, so most of her students are at least Conservative-Curious.

… Amy: …the ones who want to learn from me, the ones who take my class, you know, they’re not necessarily conservatives, but they only, they want to know about conservatism. They are curious. They have gotten red pilled to some extent. They lean right. And when I talk to them about this, which I, I don’t do very much, I mean, it’s really only one or one and a half sessions of my year long course, where we talk about this stuff.

Boy, … they know nothing about it. Okay, they are the product of our indoctrinating K-12 and elite college system. And they can go through that entire system, you know, 16 years and the idea that there might be even behavioral differences, that’s the first step.

Okay, they literally don’t know that there are crime rate differences or they think this is just some kind of right-wing conspiracy theory. They have no idea what the out-of-wedlock birth rate is for blacks. If you ask them, they’re off by like several orders of magnitude. Okay, when you tell them it’s more than 70%, they are shocked and amazed and incredulous. They don’t know. … They study race, inequality, sociology up the wazoo, but they’re never exposed to this stuff.

And the idea that there might be even IQ differences that are measurable. I had one very sincere, very intelligent student say to me, do you really believe all this IQ stuff? Like, do you really believe that there are these differences? … And do you believe that they have any significance? So what can I say to him? I said, well, do you think that some people are smarter than other people?

I mean, let’s start with the basics here. … The whole idea that some people are smarter than other people is one that they’re having an aversion to, even though their everyday common sense experience is telling them that. There’s also a huge amount of cognitive dissonance because, you know, your day-to-day experience exposes you to the fact that there are stupid people and smart people. But in school, that idea is not just absent, but discredited. So you know, apart from this tiny, tiny faction of sophisticated right-wing guys who are curious about HBD, I honestly, I wonder how many people are even aware of this stuff. I honestly do.

One interesting aspect of this is that law schools are ruthless about stratifying themselves in terms of average LSAT scores:

Rank Name 25th 50th 75th Acceptance
1 Yale University 171 175 178 5.7%
2 Harvard University 170 174 176 10.1%
3 Stanford University 170 173 176 6.9%
4 Columbia University 171 173 175 11.9%
5 University of Chicago 169 173 175 14.2%
6 Cornell University 170 172 174 17.4%
7 New York University 169 172 174 15.7%
8 University of Pennsylvania 167 172 173 9.7%
9 University of Virginia 166 171 173 12.9%
10 Washington University in St. Louis 164 172 173 18.0%
11 Northwestern University 166 171 172 15.0%
12 University of Michigan 166 171 172 13.5%
13 University of California—Los Angeles 166 171 172 15.5%
14 Georgetown University 166 171 172 17.6%
15 Duke University 168 170 171 10.7%
16 University of California—Berkeley 167 170 172 12.5%
17 University of Texas at Austin 166 170 171 14.6%

So, Penn ranks 8th in terms of LSAT scores, which is very good. But Penn can’t seem to win the really high scorers (175 and above) away from Yale, Harvard, and Stanford. Penn’s 50th percentile is a very good 172, but its 75th percentile is only 173, suggesting that it’s not getting much of the creme de la creme.

But, the point is that Penn law school is full of very bright young people. It’s one of the top 10 law schools in the USA. And they all got there by going through the process of applying to elite law schools. And so they’ve all looked at these statistics and dreamt of acing the LSAT and getting into Yale, Harvard, or Stanford, the schools that are the gateways to the really good jobs.

So, you might think that Penn law students would be aware of IQ bell curves and the like. And they are when it comes to their own careers. But, according to Prof. Wax, they are largely clueless about the outside world and how it operates in much the same way as law school admissions operates. Maybe the outside world is murkier, less flagrantly crystalline than law school admissions, but you’d think that obsessing over which elite law school you might get into would help them grasp better how the rest of the world work.

But, instead, they tend not to notice.

… Amy: And this is the elite. I mean, you know, you, the guys I know who are outside the education system, they either never entered it professionally or they have avoided it. Think about the people who think about this stuff and talk about this stuff, who debate it, right? Cofnas, well, Cofnas actually is now, ironically, at Cambridge University. Bo Winegard, this guy, Warne, who’s written a book about intelligence. The people, you know, most of the people who are on the internet debating HBD, they’re not in the academy. Emil Kirkegaard, here’s another example for you, right? The people in the academy, the whole world of formal schooling is the world that these young people are going to come up through and what they’re indoctrinated with through their schooling is what you’re going to have to cope with.

I mean, this is actually the broader challenge of wokeness in general, right? Which is very much the subject of your book. How can you get kids who come up through this propaganda machine, how can you move them away from these woke attitudes? I know you recently wrote about how you think Jews are going to become more conservative and Republican. I mean, boy, from your mouth to God’s ear, I don’t think it’s going to happen because these kids are being churned through our school system, our education system. And they, wow, it takes a tremendous amount of independence of mind and kind of skepticism and almost rebelliousness to resist that. …

And what I find, and I can’t explain it entirely, is that these kids almost immunize themselves from even looking at this stuff on the internet. There’s almost a kind of anti-inquisitive, anti-curiosity ethos that you just don’t go there. I call it this kind of PC zapper.

These kids have this fence around their brain where if anything that’s un-PC even approaches their brain, they zap it until it’s dead. I say to them, five minutes of snooping around on the internet and you’ll find all of this IQ stuff, all of this HBD stuff, it’s all there. Take a look at it. But it’s almost like they won’t even take a look at it.

You know, because they’ve been told so many times that it’s evil, that, you know, it’s right wing, that it’s white supremacist, that it’s made up, they shouldn’t go near it. That that’s the only way I can account for their ignorance. .. there’s self-policing.

And the word prestige, yes, absolutely. It has a lot to do with prestige. But in the current era, prestige has become moralized. See, that’s part of what woke has accomplished is it has moralized these ideas or demoralized them so that they’re either good or evil and it’s contaminating somehow to even go near them. It’s a genuine taboo.