What’s the “magic number” that makes you wealthy?

May 20, 2019

Several years ago I asked a colleague “What do you need to retire?”


His answer: “$5 million and playmates.”


What he meant was having enough leisure-time folks to hang out with during the day.

So, about the  “magic number” …

Read the rest of this entry »

Test: How many border apprehensions this year?

May 17, 2019

Before you keep reading or glance at the chart, take this current events test…

About how many people do you think will be caught trying to enter through the southern border this year?

A variant of that question was asked in the April Harvard-Harris Poll.  Specifically, the survey asked:

About how many people do you think are caught trying to enter through the southern border each year?

Here are the results:

Source (p.156)

Note that about half of respondents think the number is less than 100,000; only 12% peg it at more than 500,000.

So, how accurate are people’s perception?

Read the rest of this entry »

The Chinese cyber-threat…

May 16, 2019

Yesterday, we channeled Michael Pillsbury’s warning that It’s not Russia that we should be worrying about … it’s China!

Today, let’s dive down on a specific … the Chinese cyber-threat..


Michael Pillsbury nails the point in his book The Hundred Year Marathon: China’s Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower

Read the rest of this entry »

It’s not Russia that we should be worrying about … it’s China!

May 15, 2019

Keep that in mind during the emerging tariff war … there’s a higher purpose. 


One of my summer reads has been The Hundred Year Marathon: China’s Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower by Michael Pillsbury.


Pillsbury is a bona fide China expert, having served 8 administrations in a variety of high-level positions in the state and defense departments and having worked for heralded think tanks, including RAND and the Hudson Institute.

Note: To me, guy seems very credible since (a) he footnotes every major point with compelling source documentation, and (b) he is very self-effacing – often pointing out the mistakes that he had made in his China analyses.

As the title indicates, Pillsbury concludes that China is about midway through a 100-year strategy to replace the U.S. as the global superpower…

Read the rest of this entry »

The worm may have turned…

May 14, 2019

DOJ focus shifts to counterintelligence effort that Barr called ‘spying’


According to the NY Times…

AG Barr has assigned a top federal prosecutor in Connecticut to examine the origins of the Russia investigation.


John Durham, the US attorney in Connecticut, has a history of serving as a special prosecutor investigating potential wrongdoing among national security officials.

Opening a DOJ investigation is “a move that President Trump has long called for but that could anger law enforcement officials who insist that scrutiny of the Trump campaign was lawful.”

Now, there are 3 related investigations…

Read the rest of this entry »

Nadler calls off Mueller testimony … hmmm.

May 13, 2019

GOP gambit makes Mueller’s testimony less appealing (to Dems)

After weeks of hyperventilating about the need for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler abruptly cancelled this week’s planned inquisition.


Note: The story isn’t that Trump wouldn’t let Mueller testify – he said it was up to Barr and Mueller.

So, why did Nadler suddenly back off?

Read the rest of this entry »

Psych 101: The one thing that I remember…

May 10, 2019

Long ago, one of my students  observed that students  remember, at most,  one or two things from any course they take.

At the time, I would have bet the over on that one … at least for my courses!

Over time, I’ve concluded that he was more right than wrong and that I would have lost the bet.

Partial evidence: I sometimes self-test on what I remember from courses that I took long ago in college and grad school.


Fast forward to today.

One of my friend’s daughters is graduating today with an degree in psychology.

That prompted me to think back to my undergrad Psychology 101 course.

Here’s what’s stored in my long-term memory…

Read the rest of this entry »

Studies: More time on Facebook … and it’s not good for you.

May 9, 2019

“Negatively associated with overall well-being … particularly mental health”.


At the risk of piling on during FB’s stock “correction” (single day drop of 20%), let’s connect a couple of recently reported studies …

First, the BLS periodically reports how Americans spend their leisure time.

According to the NYT, channeling the most recent BLS report:

The average time that users spend on Facebook is nearing an hour.


Putting that hour of Facebook in perspective:

That’s more than any other leisure activity surveyed … with the exception of watching television programs and movies (an average per day of 2.8 hours).

It’s more time than people spend reading (19 minutes); participating in sports or exercise (17 minutes); or social events (four minutes).

It’s almost as much time as people spend eating and drinking (1.07 hours). NYT


And, a recent study published by the Harvard Business Review indicates that all that Facebook time is unhealthy.

Read the rest of this entry »

Miranda 2019: Your DNA can and will be used against you.

May 8, 2019

You know the drill …

CSI techs find some DNA at the crime scene … they run it through the criminal database … and BAM … they got a match and the perp is arrested.

Only problem: the police database of DNA profiles is relatively limited to criminals.

What about bad guys who don’t have a criminal record?



Well, it seems the police have come up with a clever way to to expand their DNA files … by a lot.

Read the rest of this entry »

Study: Chances of dying are greater if your doctor is over 60.

May 7, 2019

And, some advice for hedging your bets.

Researchers at Harvard scoured the records of 730,000 patients treated between 2011 and 2014 by more than 18,800 hospital-based internists (now called “hospitalists”).

The results were originally published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) and recapped in StudyFinds:

Patients are 1.3% more likely to die when treated by doctors over the age of 60, than if they’re treated by doctors under 40.

That translates to one additional death for every 77 patients under the care of a doctor over 60.


What’s going on?

Read the rest of this entry »

How a “professional sports gambler” is disrupting Jeopardy…

May 6, 2019

Current champ is smart and calculating. Is that cheating?

Though I’m not particularly strong at trivia, I enjoy watching Jeopardy

In part as a daily test of whether I can hang in there with the contestants (Answer: not in most categories) … and, largely because – in my stint as a teacher – I became a student f how people think … how they store, combine, and retrieve information. Think: connect the dots.

The current Jeopardy champ — James Holzhauer– is a professional sports bettor … and, he’s  setting records.


Holzhauer has won 22 straight games … that’s the 2nd most on the all-time list … the record is 74 by a “normal” guy named Ken Jennings … the average Jeopardy champ only wins 2 or 3 games..

Most impressive is that Holzhauer has already won over $1.6 million about 2/3s of the way towards Jenning’s haul of $2.5 million. Working the arithmetic, Holzhauer has been winning about $75,000 per day … which is more than double Jenning’s daily take.

How Holzhauer is doing it is raising eye-brows in the Jeopardy community. Part astonishment and part calls of “foul”.

So how exactly is Holzhauer doing it?

Read the rest of this entry »

I do my best thinking when I sleep … another scientific rationale.

May 3, 2019

 By default, your brain “defragments” when you sleep.


In a prior post, we reported some scientific evidence that most people really do think when they sleep.

For details, see: I do my best thinking when I’m sleeping … say, what?

Let’s take the science a step further…


First, an analogy…

Have you ever defragmented your computer’s hard drive?

Just in case your answer is “no” – or, you’ve never heard of defragmentation – here’s a short course:

When you save a file on your computer (think: Word, Powerpoint, Excel), the file isn’t stored in one piece.

Rather, it’s automatically broken into smaller pieces … and each piece is stashed in the first place that the computer finds an open space on the hard drive.

Since the file is stored in scattered pieces, the computer has to reassemble it when you subsequently re-open the file.

That takes time … and slows the process.

There’s a process called “defragmentation” that sorts through a computer’s hard drive, eliminates “dead links” and reassembles “live” files into contiguous pieces … making the save & open processes more efficient.

Well, it turns out that your brain comes with a process analogous to defragmentation … it’s called “synaptic pruning” … and it happens automatically when you sleep.

Here’s how it works …

Read the rest of this entry »

I do my best thinking when I’m sleeping … say, what?

May 2, 2019

Discussing creativity in class, I casually mentioned that I seem to do my best thinking when I’m asleep.

Specifically, I reported that I like to get to work as soon as I jump out of bed (literally) … and that I often find myself doing a brain dump of thoughts that weren’t top of mind before I’d gone nite-nite.

The revelation initially got some chuckles … then some folks started nodding and chiming in with “me, too” variants on the story.

Of course, some remained unconvinced.



For the skeptics, here some science …

Read the rest of this entry »

Cancer ads: The power of anecdotes over hard data ……

May 1, 2019

Yesterday, we channeled the results of a study that found that patients facing major health challenges often select their course of treatment based on isolated success stories they might hear rather than hard data.

Specifically, the study found that when a success story was used to “validate” a low success rate treatment, patients would ignore or dismiss the hard scientific data and be swayed by the anecdote – even if the case history was a remote outlier, not a general case.

Deep in selective attention mode, my eye caught an opinion piece in the WSJ:


The author’s punch line:

“The multibillion-dollar cancer treatment industry appeals to emotion in misleading ads … mounting  less a war on cancer than a war on truth —and on vulnerable consumers.”

Read the rest of this entry »

When it comes to your health, don’t bet on long shots …

April 30, 2019

… unless you’re out of options.

In my Business Analytics course, I had students read a couple of excerpts from a book called Think Twice: The Power of Counter-intuition by Michael Mauboussin.

In a chapter called “The Outside View” the author reports findings from a medical study that investigated the relative importance of hard data and anecdotal evidence when patients select from among treatment options for serious health conditions.

Patients were given the hard scientific data about a treatment‘s success rates and an anecdote about a case history.

Some anecdotes were positive (the treatment was a success), some were negative (the treatment failed or had complications), and some were neutral (neither a clear success nor a dramatic failure).

Below is an extract of the study’s results summarizing the percentage of respondents selecting a treatment given the hard data on its success rate and a related anecdote of a specific case’s outcome.


Let’s drill down …

Read the rest of this entry »

Cognitive biases: Falling for false expertise …

April 29, 2019

People don’t naturally know who they should listen to.

Worse yet, in a majority of instances when a reliable expert is identified, people end up following somebody else’s advice.

That’s what Univ. of Utah’s management professor Bryan Bonner concludes.



Bonner observes that rather than identifying advisers with actual competence, people habitually fall for spurious “proxies of expertise”.

Read the rest of this entry »

Great moments in recycling.

April 26, 2019

Been wondering what to do with your banana peels?

I just received a flash alert from my well-intended (I think) county recycling folks.

In essence,the county authorities suggest that I  should be more ecologically sensitive and start bagging my spent banana peels along with other food waste (not in a plastic bag, of course) and drive my peels and grounds over to a recycling center and, god forbid, don’t even consider putting ihe stuff in my recycling can or my yard waste can or my garbage can for curbside pick-up.).


Think about that for a moment….


The aforementioned recycling center is about 15 miles away from my home.

Note: The flyer cautioned against just piling food waste in a distant corner of my backyard in an old fashioned compost heap

That’s 30 miles round trip … or about 1.5 gallons of gas in my garbage-hauling SUV.

That means increasing my fossil fuel consumption and carbon footprint to throw my peels on the community garbage pile.

Multiply that by a couple of thousand county residents and ask yourself:

Does that make any sense at all?

Not to me!


On a related matter, there were news flashes this week that  Philippine President Duarte directed Canadians to stop shipping their trash (banana peels?) to the Philippines.

Say, what?

Made me wonder if my banana peels are being shipped from my community recycling center to some far off port.

You know, it wouldn’t surprise me.


Follow on Twitter @KenHoma

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Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford To Live Without.

April 25, 2019

From the summer reading pile.  I read ’em so you don’t have to …

Rath argues that “vital friends” play one or more of 8 roles.

Which of the role(s) do you play?  Which do each of your vital friends play?

Read the rest of this entry »

“68% say they paid the same taxes or more”

April 24, 2019

Shocker … or just fuzzy math?
For the record, I’m for tax cuts since the Feds waste so much of OUR money … but, as I’ve posted previously, I would have done them differently than DJT did.

And, I predicted that most American’s wouldn’t recognize the benefits of the tax cuts because (1) they don’t understand basic economics (e.g. the corporate cuts boosted the economy) … and hopelessly confuse ‘taxes paid’ with ‘refunds received’.

Still, I’m surprised when I see shock-intending headlines like this one.


Let’s dig a little deeper into that claim…

Read the rest of this entry »

Re: Mueller Report … the Washington Post nailed it.

April 22, 2019

I rarely quote from the far left-leaning Washington Post – which has trumpeted the Russia Collusion narrative for about 2 years, day-in-day-out.

But, I think an article appearing on WaPo’s editorial page last week got it right:


Quoting from the opinion piece …

Read the rest of this entry »

It’s not your imagination, people are really getting dumber.

April 19, 2019

That’s the conclusion from a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The researchers that the  increase in population intelligence observed throughout the 20th century has peaked and has now gone into reverse.


More specifically…

Read the rest of this entry »

Why Johnny can’t write …

April 18, 2019

Faculty colleagues and I often bemoaned that there seems to be a consensus that writing skills among MBA students have been declining.

I’m not talking about flowery prose and precise grammar.

I’m talking about logical argumentation … being able to explain why something is happening and what to do about it.

My hypothesis was that colleges aren’t requiring students to take courses (or demonstrate proficiency) in, say, critical thinking or logic … and that college students today aren’t required to write many papers that hone their thinking and writing skills.


Testing my hypothesis on a middle school math teacher-friend, I got a rude awakening …

Read the rest of this entry »

More Disney: How does Mickey fingerprint me?

April 17, 2019

The tech behind biometric fingerprints


In prior posts, I gushed over the technology applications at Disney World … and recounted the plausible explanations for why Mickey digitally records guests’ fingerprints when then enter the park.

Ostensibly, the purpose is fraud protection – keeping folks from passing along their partially used tickets for reuse.

Of course, there are other sorts of uses for digital fingerprints (e.g. catching bad guys) … and ways that the information can be misused.



With my curiosity aroused, I did some digging re: digital fingerprints.

Read the rest of this entry »

More Disney: Why is Mickey fingerprinting me?

April 16, 2019

A plausible “why” and a very interesting “how”.
In a prior post Seriously, why not outsource TSA ops to Disney? , I gushed over the technology applications at Disney World … the Magic Bands than let me into my hotel room & the park, Fast-Passed me to the front of lines, and “personalized” my family’s experience with real-time greetings and photos.

I noted that I was digitally fingerprinted when I entered the park and asked if anybody could tell me why.


A couple of loyal readers clued me and provoked some digging.

Here’s what I learned …

Read the rest of this entry »

Seriously, why not outsource TSA ops to Disney?

April 15, 2019

Disney’s technology applications are impressive (and effective)

Last week, I took a  fact-finding trip (aka. family vacation) to Disney World.

Once again, I was blown away by the park’s technology and security operations ….


No surprise, there was a huge rush of “guests” entering the Magic Kingdom when the gates opened at 8 a.m.

The crowd measured into the thousands … all needing to be security-screened.

All bags and strollers had to be hand-checked … all kids – big & little – had to be ushered through metal detectors.

Nightmare, right?

Maybe at the airport, but not at Disney.

Our wait & processing time: less than 10 minutes.


Then came the good part…

Read the rest of this entry »

Do students really learn what’s taught?

April 11, 2019

Though I’ve retired from the practice, I’m still very engaged on education issues … especially whether our students (at all levels) are being adequately schooled to compete in the real world.

So, one of my summer reads is “What Schools Could Be” by Ted Dinterersmith – a well credentialed, experience-deep educator.

In a nutshell, author Ted Dintersmith spent a year visiting schools across the nation to identify outstanding teachers and catalog their secret sauces.


One of the anecdotes that he recounts in the book hit one of my longstanding questions: Do students really learn what they’re being taught?

Read the rest of this entry »

How much “learning” is lost during summer vacation?

April 10, 2019

In his book Outliers, one of the topics that Malcolm Gladwell explored was the academic achievement gap between kids from low income families and kids from higher incomes families … even for kids attending the same schools.


Malcolm uncovered  a learning dynamic that he coined the “summer slide”.

Read the rest of this entry »

The degree-earning gender gap…

April 9, 2019

An interesting analysis done by economist Mark Perry concludes:

Since 1982, women have earned 13 million more college degrees than men.


Let’s drill down on those numbers…

Read the rest of this entry »

What do colleges have in common with Kohl’s?

April 8, 2019

I oft say that anybody who pays sticker price at Kohl’s should look over their shoulder to make sure that Darwin isn’t chasing them.

Maybe the same should be said of parents who pay list price tuition to fund their kiddies through college.

Lots of talk re: how college costs are soaring.

According to the WSJ

Published tuition rates have soared in the last decade, but only a small percentage of families actually pays full freight.

Between grants to needy students and merit scholarships to entice other desirable candidates, schools these days are giving back nearly 50% of gross tuition revenue in the form of aid and awards.

In other words, list prices are going up, but more stuff is being sold at sale prices.



Increasingly, colleges are using pricing methods previously the domain of airlines and discount retailers …

Read the rest of this entry »

So, what explains student loan defaults?

April 5, 2019

Prompted by ideas being floated  to make colleges underwrite their their students’ loans, I’ve been doing some digging.

The most headlined explanations of student loan defaults report that over half of for-profit college students and over half of black students default on their loans.

The numbers may be true, but they’re more emotionally-charged than they are instructive.

So,  the left-leaning Brookings Institution drilled deeper on the headlined conclusions to understand what accounts for gaps in student loan defaults.


Here are some of the more interesting conclusions from the “Evidence Speaks Report”…

Read the rest of this entry »

Should colleges be forced to underwrite student loans?

April 4, 2019

Sounds like a logical, easy fix, right?

Yesterday, we posted about the $1.5 trillion in outstanding student loan debt held by about 45 million former students.

We argued that that’s a problem because (1) The student loans fuel tuition increases by enabling colleges to fund inefficiencies (2) Servicing the debt load constrains borrowers lifestyle choices (e.g. marriage, home buying) by crowding out other debt capacity, and (3) When interest rates rise (and, they eventually will) repayment will pose an increasingly difficult challenge for many (most?) borrowers.

Following on that last point,  the default rate on student loans is about already 20% on average … with big differences by the type of school the borrower attended.


What explains the differences?

Read the rest of this entry »

Student debt continues to skyrocket …

April 3, 2019

One of the byproducts of the recent college admissions scandal has been an elevated look at college attainment (i.e. what are students really learning) … and ballooning student debt.

Last week we looked at what students are really learning.

Now lets shift the spotlight to student debt.

First, some sobering statistics

Student debt has more than tripled since 2004, and is now over $1.5 trillion — second only to mortgage debt — and higher than both credit cards and auto loans.

That’s a problem because (1) The student loans fuel tuition increases by enabling colleges to fund inefficiencies (2) Servicing the debt load constrains borrowers lifestyle choices (e.g. marriage, home buying) by crowding out other debt capacity, and (3) When interest rates rise (and, they eventually will) repayment will pose an increasingly difficult challenge for many (most?) borrowers.


Let’s drill down on that $1.5 trillion…

Read the rest of this entry »

Teachers with conservative views don’t make the cut.

April 2, 2019

Last week, we looked at the ACTA college ratings. They evaluate a school based on whether (or not) they require that students take courses (or demonstrate proficiency) in core subject areas such as math, science, and critical thinking.  And, ACTA reports scores on how well schools deliver on freedom of speech and diversity of thought. 

See Have colleges watered down their curriculums? and If your kids are college bound…

Bottom line: few schools receive stellar grades.

Wonder why?

Here’s one plausible explanation….


GREAT article in the WSJ from MSB’s own John Hasnas – MSB Professor of Policy & Ethics: The One Kind of Diversity Colleges Avoid

His central point: When recruiting faculty, universities seek diversity by gender, race and nationality … but, not ideology.

In many instances, conservatives and libertarians need not apply.



That conclusion probably doesn’t surprise many of you who already see the elephant in the middle of the room.

But, Prof. Hasnas provides some texture and “inside scoop”

Here are a couple of highlight snippets from the article … Read the rest of this entry »

In praise of math, logic, and Latin … say, what?

April 1, 2019

Classical educators argued that these disciplines are the building blocks of reasoning, problem-solving and critical thinking.


The courses that I taught contained a heavy dose of problem-solving skills.

Early on, I’d assert my belief that that problem-solving skills can be taught – and, more importantly, learned – and set about to prove the point.




I’ve been doing some summer reading on the topic of reasoning & problem-solving and learned:

“For twenty-six hundred years many philosophers and educators have been confident that reasoning could be taught.”

Read the rest of this entry »

If your kids are college bound…

March 29, 2019

Here’s a site that you must check out.

In a prior post, we questioned: “Are colleges watering down their curriculums?” … and reported on  a survey conducted by American Council of Trustees and Alumni.

The ACTA criteria and methodology  specifically  assesses whether students are learning the “essential skills and knowledge” for work and for life.

The results: Only 2% of the surveyed schools earned an A grade from ACTA.

For details, see “Have colleges watered down their curriculums?”


The overall statistics are interesting (and disappointing), but what’s more meaningful is how specific schools are doing.

Here’s how to find out…

Read the rest of this entry »

More: Have colleges watered down their curriculums?

March 28, 2019

A survey of 700 schools answers the question.

In a prior post, we outlined the criteria and method that the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) used to assess whether students are learning the “essential skills and knowledge” for work and for life.


In a nutshell, ACTA researchers culled through over 700 schools’ course catalogs and web sites to determine what courses were being offered and, more important, which courses were required of all students.

Specifically, they investigated whether undergraduates are gaining a reasonable college-level introduction in seven core subject areas:

  1. Composition & argumentation
  2. Literature and critical thinking
  3. Foreign language & culture
  4. U.S. government & history
  5. Economics: Macro, micro, behavioral
  6. Mathematics, logic & computer science
  7. Science & scientific experimentation.

Here’s what they found …

Read the rest of this entry »

Have colleges watered down their curriculums?

March 27, 2019

A survey seeks to  answer that question.

In a prior  post, we reported that employers think that most college graduates are poorly prepared for the work force in such areas as critical thinking, communication and problem solving.

See A bigger college scandal than the recent admissions bruhaha…

Let’s dig a little deeper on that sentiment.


The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) conducted a survey of “Core Requirements at our Nation’s Colleges and Universities” to determine what students are really learning in college.

Specifically, the ACTA survey focused on the courses that a student is required to take outside the major.

These courses — commonly called general education classes or the school’s core curriculum — are, according to the ACTA, “ the foundation of a school’s academic program”.

They are the courses “generally  designed to equip students with essential skills and knowledge” for work and for life.

Here is specifically what ACTA was looking for…

Read the rest of this entry »

A bigger college scandal than the recent admissions bruhaha…

March 26, 2019

Employers say that 9 of 10 college grads are poorly prepared.

According to the WSJ

9 out of 10 business owners surveyed by the American Association Colleges and Universities said that recent college graduates as poorly prepared for the work force in such areas as critical thinking, communication and problem solving.

“Employers are say that they don’t care about all the knowledge you learned because it’s going to be out of date two minutes after you graduate … they care about whether you can continue to learn over time and solve complex problems.”




Are employers being too critical?

Read the rest of this entry »

College admissions scandal: Much ado about nothing?

March 25, 2019

Maybe so, but it shines a spotlight on other college problems.

It was easy to get caught up in the recent college admissions fiasco.

It had all the ingredients of popular scandal: rich celebrity stars and industry titans, elite colleges, outrageous (and illegal) adult behavior, sports abuses, social injustice.  All constantly re-fueled by continuous cable news looping.

Today, let’s step back and put the bruhaha into perspective.


Nicholas Lemann – of Columbia’s School of Journalism – cut to the chase in the New Yorker:

Busting the admissions cheaters is the right thing to do, in addition to being emotionally satisfying.

But it won’t change America’s colleges much for the better.

Let’s drill down on that…

Read the rest of this entry »

NYT: “A vindication of the rule of law.”

March 23, 2019

“It may be that Mr. Trump has kept repeating his mantra of ‘no collusion’ because it’s true.”

That’s a conclusion the the NYT editorial staff reached.


But that conclusion was apparently tough for the Times to swallow, so the editors pulled a Comey in their editorial.

Remember when Comey said: “Here’s a list of all the laws and policies that Secretary Clinton violated, but no reasonable prosecutor would indict her”?

Well, the Times – apparently still grateful for the memo that Comey leaked to them to get the special counsel rolling – styled their editorial after his Clinton ruling.

After the obligatory reaffirmation of Robert Mueller as “a man whose name is synonymous with integrity and fairness”, the Times reheated all of allegations about collusion and obstruction that Mueller decided didn’t merit indictment.

The Times conceded (I think) that the investigation was ‘by the book’ and fair.

But, unlike the Clinton-Comey affair,  when the glee-dancing Times said that was time to turn the page, this time – since Trump is center stage – they declare:

William Barr, the attorney general, needs to release as much of Mr. Mueller’s work as he possibly can, and soon.

All Americans deserve the chance to review those findings and reach their own conclusions.

Whatever happened to “turn the page”?


Follow on Twitter @KenHoma

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Are SAT scores income-biased?

March 22, 2019

The simple answer is ‘yes’, but it’s more complicated than that.

I stumbled upon an interesting analysis…

According to Daniel Friedman  posting on Quillette.com:

There is a statistically significant relationship between family income and SAT scores.


Let’s drill down on the numbers…

Read the rest of this entry »

Some “interesting” SAT results …

March 21, 2019

Since SAT scores  are in the news, here’s some perspective.

The College Board publishes a “Total Group Profile Report” for  college-bound seniors.

Browsing it, a couple of sets of numbers caught my eye ….

Let’s start with math scores.

Two big takeaways:

(1) The gap between boys and girls narrowed from the 40 point difference in the 1970s to about 25 points … but has remained fairly constant at that level for about the past 20 years

(2) Scores for both boys and girls have been falling for the past dozen years or so.



OK, boys outscore girls in math, but girls do better on the verbal part of the SATs, right?

Read the rest of this entry »

How to get your kids into good colleges … without cheating or bribing.

March 20, 2019

There’s a sure-fire method, but it isn’t easy.  It’s called parenting.


Last week – in the wake of the college admissions scandal –  we posted about how Asian-American students are being admitted to highly selective (aka. ” elite”) high schools at increasingly high rates.


Because they are academic achievers.


In part because Asian-American parents place a high priority on education, drive their children to excel (especially in STEM academics) and provide their kids with extensive  extracurricular learning experiences (well beyond SAT prep classes).

And, oh yeah, they’ve probably gone to college … providing good role modeling and ready tutoring capabilities.

To that point …

The College Board published a  “Total Group Profile Report” for recent college-bound seniors …

One set of numbers caught my eye:

SAT scores by the student’s parents level of educational attainment.


Note that about 2/3’s of the college-bound seniors taking the SAT came from homes with a degreed parent – either associate, bachelor or graduate.

Only about 1/3 came from homes with parents having only a high school education or less.

And, the performance differentials are substantial between the groups …

Read the rest of this entry »

Are “the meritorious” a protected class?

March 19, 2019

In a prior post, I opined  that an applicant to an elite college is “qualified” to attend that college if they have sufficient smarts and dedication to learning that it is reasonable to expect that they can successfully complete the coursework that’s required to earn a degree.

See Just how dumb are Lori Loughlin’s daughters?

If you buy that definition, then many (maybe most) of rejected applicants are qualified … but get rejected because there aren’t enough slots to accommodate all of them.


Which raises another question: is there certainty that the most qualified students get offered admission?

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Just how dumb are Lori Loughlin’s daughters?

March 18, 2019

Or, the more pertinent question: Are Lori’s daughters “qualified” to attend USC?

I hate to pick on Lori Loughlin’s daughters (<=not really) but, in the recent college admissions scandal, they’re the only  kids who have been outted (in detail) by the media … and, let’s be honest, they are easy targets.


Evidence re: smart or dumb is scant – i.e. IQ or legit SAT scores haven’t been reported – but there are a couple of data points:

  1. The video loops on cable news are less than flattering (e.g. “I’m looking forward to the football games and parties” — not “the high level of intellectual challenge”);
  2. Lori’s stating that “I didn’t push my daughters to get A’s in high school” — suggests that they met their mom’s low bar and didn’t get many A’s;
  3. it took a whopping $500,000 to open USC’s “side door” for the girls — that suggests that the girls had a lot ground to make up.
  4. Lori shelled out the $500,000 (and allegedly committed a couple of felonies in the process) …that’s pretty dumb … and, at least some of everybody’s “smarts” comes via their parents DNA.

So, it seems reasonable to conclude that the girls aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer.

Does that mean that they aren’t “qualified” to attend USC?  

That’s a trickier question…

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Why are Asian-American students dominating “elite” schools?

March 15, 2019

No, they don’t buy-off sports coaches and abuse standardized testing procedures. 

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (“TJ” for short), is a selective DC-area magnet school designed to provide an elite, high-tech education for the most academically gifted students in Northern Virginia.

The school offers rigorous study in advanced college-level offerings like electrodynamics, neurobiology, and artificial intelligence.

High octane academics, for sure … offered to the best and brightest.

What’s the rub?

Demographic mix.


The school’s newly accepted Class of 2022 is 65 percent Asian, 23 percent white, five percent Hispanic, and two percent black.


20 years ago, the concern was that Black and Hispanic representation at TJ was less than half their demographic mix in Fairfax County – the “feeder” county.

Several initiatives were launched to increase Black and Hispanic representation, including early identification and proactive outreach to high potential minority children; supplementary in-school and extracurricular programs to teach and mentor them; and more ready access to prep and gateway courses such as Algebra.

While undertaking those initiatives, something unexpected happened.

The numbers of Black and Hispanic students applying and enrolled at TJ remained stalled at the pre-initiative levels. So, that’s still a concern.

But, during the same time period (and unrelated to the minority initiatives), the number of white students declined sharply … and the number of Asian-American students has soared.

Why is that?

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Before climate change, there was the “Population Bomb”.

March 14, 2019

And, there are remarkable similarities.

Recently, in one of her articulated streams of consciousness, AOC warned that we all would be toast in 12 years if global warming wasn’t arrested.

Time to metal-cube our SUVs and mass-slaughter the bovine-methane creatures, right?

Well, not so fast.

While AOC’s warning may come to fruition, I’m betting the over on the 12 years … in part, because it fits a pattern of hysterical unrealized doomsday predictions.

For example, circa. 1970, Prof. Paul Ehrlich  (Stanford University) wrote Malthusian-inspired book: The Population Bomb. The book became a runaway “scientific” best-seller.


Ehrlich warned that because of unchecked population growth:

The battle to feed all of humanity is over.

Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death.

All of us will face mass starvation on a dying planet.

While their were some deniers, demographers agreed almost unanimously with Ehrlich’s doomsday prediction ….

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#3 – Why I’m lukewarm to climate change…

March 13, 2019

Reason #3: The “97% of scientists” baloney

For the record: I’m neither a denier nor a zealot …  so, according to British writer (& phrase-coiner) Matt Ridley, I’m a “lukewarmer”.


Since AOC rolled out her Green New Deal, I’ve heard many left-leaning pundits spouting the oft-repeated but unsupported claim that 97% of scientists agree that climate change (nee, ‘global warming’) is real, man-caused and catastrophic.

Reason enough to flashback to our long ago post debunking the 97% malarkey.


In a prior posts, I covered:

Reason #1Unsettling Science … I’ve gotten  cognitive whiplash from “Ice Age” u-turning to  “Global Warming”  …  which was slowed by an “18-year Pause” … and then wrapped in a catch-all “Climate Change”.

Reason #2Al Gore and his doomsday prediction …  in 2016 we passed his point of no return towards a true planetary emergency  … without the planet melting or exploding … and with Manhattan still above water (I think).

Let’s move on…


My 3rd reason: The “97% of scientists” baloney.

This claim really gained traction when former President Obama tweeted:

“97% percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.”

Case closed, settled science, right?

Not so fast …



Let’s start with a simple smell test:

Can you think of any issue that garners 97% agreement?

My bet is that 97%% of “scientists” don’t even agree that smoking causes cancer.

Pick your issue … 97% … really?

Doesn’t smell right to me, but maybe climate change the exception to the rule.

So, let’s deep dive the claim…

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The politics of the Supreme Court…

March 12, 2019

Conservatives are fretting (rightfully) that Roberts is trending liberal. 

Let’s put SCOTUS political leanings in context….

Political scientists Andrew Martin and Kevin Quinn developed  a measure to calibrate how liberal or conservative SCOTUS justices are … based on their rulings.

As near as I can tell, the measure is uncontested by either ideology.


First, let’s pull some takeaways from the chart…

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OMG: One of Dem’s loose cannons unloads on Obama…

March 11, 2019

Congresswoman Omar: “Hope and change was just a mirage”

Frosh Congresswoman ilhan Omer set off an anti-Israel, anti-Semite bruhaha last week.

That was broadly covered by the MSM.

But, the MSM has largely ignored the Congresswoman’s interview with left-leaning Politico.


In the lPolitico: interview Omar is quoted as saying:

We can’t be only upset with Trump.

His policies are bad, but many of the people who came before him also had really bad policies.

They just were more polished than he is.

Who was she talking about?

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