The "law school scam" media bubble

If you’re like me you have friends and acquaintances who want to go to law school. I often respond sarcastically that “a mind is a terrible thing to waste.” There have long been “law school scam” blogs, but it seems that right now there’s a veritable bubble in media reports on exactly how law schools are screwing their students. Remember, law school debt is not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

First, an article in The New Republic, Served: How law schools completely misrepresent their job numbers:

When we take temporary employment into account, it appears that approximately 45 percent of 2010 graduates of this particular top-50 law school had real legal jobs nine months after graduation. And the overall number is likely lower, since it seems probable that the temporary employment figures for the graduates of almost any top 50 school would be better than the average outcome for the graduates of the 198 ABA-accredited law schools as a whole.

Even this grim figure, however, may be unduly optimistic. All these statistics are based on self-reporting, and neither law schools nor NALP audit the data they publish. In the course of my research, I audited a representative sample of individual graduate responses and found several instances of people describing themselves as employed permanently or full-time, when in fact they had temporary or part-time jobs (I found no instances of inaccuracies running in the other direction). Perhaps some graduates exaggerate their employment status out of embarrassment, or for strategic reasons, but, whatever their reasons might be, this apparently not uncommon practice suggests that the true employment rate should be lowered even further.

This is old news. The New York Times now has a piece up with a new twist, Law Students Lose the Grant Game as Schools Win:

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"Out of Africa" vs. "Multi-regionalism" revisited

A few months ago I exchanged some emails with Milford H. Wolpoff and Chris Stringer. These are the two figures who have loomed large in paleoanthropology and the origins of modernity human for a generation, and they were keen in making sure that their perspectives were represented accurately in the media. To further that they sent me some documents which would lay out their perspective, in their own words, and away from the public glare (as in, they’re academic publications).

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The loss of sacred belief?

Over at the Less Wrong blog there is a post, So You’ve Changed Your Mind. This portion caught my attention:

So you’ve changed your mind. Given up your sacred belief, the one that defined so much of who you are for so long.

You are probably feeling pretty scared right now.

I reflected and realized that the various issues where I’ve held relatively strong opinions and then changed my mind were generally cases where I relied on received wisdom, looked more closely, and felt that there was some misrepresentation among the orthodox gatekeepers of wisdom. But there’s one “big” issue that I guess I have changed my mind: I used to view all utility calculations on the scale of the individual, and accepted that all entities above or below the scale of the individual were useful only as a means toward individual well being. I probably wouldn’t defend this position anymore, though I think it has a logical coherency and may still be viable in some places and times. I’m not a “communitarian” or anything like that, rather, I have an impulse to just disavow these sorts of formal constructions of how best to attain and maintain human happiness in a time and space invariant sense.

Individual and social life are often best optimized by both forethought, and a simple process of trial and error through living. Those who accept the power of a priori in matters societal are often younger from what I have experienced.

The soft twilight of monarchies

Years ago I took a course on Tudor and Stuart England. Its primary focus was more on social and cultural aspects of British society at the time, rather than diplomatic history. Later I took an interest in the England of the Civil War era. One thing that struck me was the unquestioned acceptance of monarchy in the minds of the people, from high nobility to low commoner. Like the Romans before the Visigothic sack in the early 5th century these were a people who could not imagine a world any different than the one they had known. That is one of the things which made the execution of Charles I so shocking to many contemporaries. Myself, I was tacitly indoctrinated in American republicanism as a child. Films like the The Patriot grow in the rich soil of the same cultural environment which gave rise to the phenomenon of the antagonists in Roman era films speaking with British accents while the protagonists had robust American drawls. As I spent my formative years on the fringes of of New England there was particular pride taken in that region’s early role in the rebellion whenever we addressed the American Revolutionary War. Clearly I have little reverence and respect for the institution of monarchy as a matter of upbringing and expectation. Not to make too explosive an analogy, but in the past I viewed monarchy as somewhat like slavery, an cultural artifact once universal which would inevitably melt away under the harsh glare of the objective forces of justice for all.

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Open Thread – 4/30/2011

I haven’t had these for a while. Following a request from the new year I’ve been mulling how to write up Population Structure and Eigenanalysis in an intelligible manner to the general readership. Still kind of at an impasse. On a logistical note, my email address is really getting on way too many mailing lists. If you want a prompt response from me might be best, at least until I get overwhelmed by the noise on that service and move on to something else….

Make your voice heard on genetic testing

Over the past few days some friends have started receiving their results from 23andMe’s last sale (others have put me on notice to inform them of the next discount window). This brings me to thinking about direct-to-consumer genetic testing, and the legal and technological framework in which we live. In relation to the former thanks to Daniel Vorhaus the F.D.A. has reopened the public docket on this issue, until May 2nd. So Monday. The best way to submit is online, and reference docket ID FDA-2011-N-0066. I believe this direct link to the submission page should work as well. You obviously know my opinion. Here are some sample submissions. You can also see the submissions so far at this address. Some of them are quite succinct: “FDA let people access their genetic information since it’s one of basic right of human being.”

Dr. Daniel MacArthur has more sage commentary, as usual.

Have a good weekend!

The royal wedding and outbreeding

In the wake of the post from earlier this week on the inbreeding within the House of Windsor (and current lack thereof), Luke Jostins, a subject of the British monarch, has a nice informative post up, Inbreeding, Genetic Disease and the Royal Wedding. This tidbit is of particular interest:

In fact, eleventh cousins is a pretty low degree of relatedness, by the standard of these things. A study of inbreeding in European populations found that couples from the UK are, on average, as genetically related as 6th cousins (the study looked at inbreeding in Scots, and in children of one Orkadian and one non-Orkadian. No English people, but I would be very suprised if we differed significantly). 6th cousins share about 0.006% of their DNA, and thus have about a 0.06% chance of developing a genetic disease via a common ancestor. Giving that the Royal Family are better than most at genealogy, we can probably conclude that the royal couple are less closely related than the average UK couple, and thus their children are less likely than most to suffer from a genetic disease. Good news for them, bad news for geneticists, perhaps?

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Love and arranged marriage

In the wake of yesterday’s review of a paper on heritable variance in trait preferences realized in romantic partners I couldn’t help but be intrigued by this new study out of PLoS ONE, Evolutionary History of Hunter-Gatherer Marriage Practices. It’s actually a pretty thin piece of work in all honesty from what I can tell. They wanted to query ancestral ranges of marriage patterns by mapping the cultural variation in customs onto a phylogenetic tree. To generate that tree they took mtDNA sequences, which to me seems kind of old school. Using the cultural patterns present in living hunter-gatherer groups they presumed they could infer the ancestral state.

So combining these two sources of data they generated this:

They conclude:

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The three poles of South Asian genetic variation

Zack Ajmal has posted his K = 11 Reference 3 results including Harappa Ancestry Project participants. Below are the results sorted by the East Asian, South Asian, and Onge. I limited it to those who had 5% or more East Asian. All caps = reference populations. The rest are individuals from HAP:

Group Subgroup Ethnicity S Asian Onge E Asian
Austro-Asiatic Khasic KHASI 21% 21% 48%
Austro-Asiatic Munda JUANG 26% 43% 28%
Austro-Asiatic Munda BONDA 27% 44% 27%
Austro-Asiatic Munda GADABA 29% 42% 24%
Austro-Asiatic Munda KHARIA 33% 44% 21%
Austro-Asiatic Munda SAVARA 33% 44% 21%
Austro-Asiatic Munda HO 34% 44% 20%
Austro-Asiatic Munda MAWASI 38% 44% 16%
Austro-Asiatic Munda ASUR 42% 42% 14%
Austro-Asiatic Munda SANTHAL 40% 45% 13%
Indo-European Indo-European SAHARIYA 44% 39% 12%
Bengali 51% 28% 12%
Bengali 49% 28% 11%
Indo-European Indo-European SATNAMI 49% 36% 8%
Isolate BURUSHO 47% 10% 6%
Bengali 54% 29% 6%
Bengali/Oriya 53% 29% 5%
Dravidian Dravidian MALAYAN 50% 42% 5%
UP 48% 21% 5%

That’s my parents at 12 and 11 percent East Asian. Using the new reference population Zack estimates that my “Ancestral South Indian” (ASI) is ~43%. That makes more sense to me that Dodecad’s estimate of ~34%. I think that Dodecad method was confused because I do have genuine East Asian admixture, and the estimate of “Ancestral North India” (ANI) vs. ASI is confounded by other components. I suspect that the estimates of Onge are probably less valid for groups like the Khasi because of bleeding over from the East Asian component (in other words, the regression which Zack used to predict ASI is fitted to South Asian populations without East Asian admixture, and isn’t fully transferable to those that have it). But the geographical breakdown of the East Asian element is pretty striking, if expected. The Bengalis have more East Asian than other Indians, as you’d expect. Here are all the HAP individuals + reference populations as points on a two dimensional plot:

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