Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Harvard Sociopaths

Tyler Cowen asks:
How much would the world differ if Harvard reserved a fifth of its entering class for those individuals who showed the most talent for fraud?
The obvious response is: would that be an invidious quota, like imposing a limit on Jews (or, these days, Asians) because they show up the rest of us? Okay, granted, Adam Wheeler-- Harvard's answer to Frank Abagnale--is not likely to be replicated often (for a spicy account of Wheeler's academic joyride, go here). But that doesn't necessarily mean he is more brazen than his classmates; it could be only that he is less competent. The really dangerous sociopaths in society are the ones who learn how to work in the white space around the letter of the law, to use their charm and manipulative skills to bamboozle anybody who stands in the doorway including admissions officers, department chairs, fellowship screening committees.

They say that criminals are stupid and I agree to the extent of acknowledging that unsuccessful criminals are stupid--that's why they get caught. They also say that good girls go to heaven and bad girls go everywhere. The same may be true of the Harvard admissions pool.

Fn,: Sure enough, someone is saying that Wheeler is not all that different from the other guy.

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