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Someone defend how the LSAT a logic test is racist

Biosteelman 7 Apr 15

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Logic and language, like mathematics are human artifaces invented to make sense of their world. As such their are physical laws and properties that operate regardless what we call them or the language we use to describe them.

Different groups make sense of their world in different manners. We describe them using an Eurocentric vocabulary and model. Not everyone does. Their model is just as valid in their world as ours is in our culture.

But math is always math. Logic is the natural derivative of math.

@Biosteelman. Math is a symbolic language of numerical representation. Zero didnt exist in many cultures until the Arabs during the Dark ages (I think) and in the Mayan culture(I also think). Numbers do not exist in reality. There is no such thing a ",one", in nature except in symbolic language.

With differing mathematical systems like the examples above operate on a different logic model. Before Leibnitz and Newton the world was described strictly in terms of Algebra and Trigonometry. After these gemtleman the world was described in terms of calculus. The islanders on the Andiman Islands would not understandvthe logic presented by NASA, as an enginerr my be at an equal disadvantage in trying to buy food from Andoman Islanders.

The opening of the American frontier with the Native American cultures was an example of two different worlds that had distinctly different logics, and cultural values. Traders got hides for which they exchanged for lots of money, Natives got trinkets. The natives saw adornment, the traders saw a cheap source of hides. They both got what they valued, but the method for figuring value operated on completely different logic models

@t1nick Valuation based on a cultures perceived utility isn't logic. It is preference.
Logic isn't preference.
Fun thing about calculus math,algebraic math, and geometric math given a problem no matter which method you use the correct answer will always be the same. Because math is base logic.


it's a wonderful world. ppl with IQs of 90 would easily be 110 if they weren't disadvantaged by racist stereotyping. but even at 110 nowadays they would have trouble with university courses.
easy solution--let's just do away with tests.
everyone will be equal.. could turn out like "Animal Farm", though, where some were more equal that others.


The implication in the preface question is that there is only one type of logic. Logic is logic. right. Wrong. As a white culture from Europe, we have a very Eurocentric view of logic.

Logic is largely based in culture. Eurocenttic logic in the jungles tribes of the Amazon would probably get you killed. As a scientist and a science teacher. I operate within the confines of the Eurocentric model. But I also teach in the Native American community. They have a cultural logic that at times comes into play when Cultural questions arise. It would be nonsensical to use Eurocentric logic during these times. Yes one could seek a Eurocentric explanation, but there is no guarantee that you could adequately find an explanation.

To address the original question. Standardized tests were originally written by white, Eurocentric persons educated in a Eurocentric model. Therefore, of course the test would end up becoming Eurocentric.

In my Masters and Doctoral research I looked at the differences in teaching science to heavily cultural communities using a Eurocentric model versus a cultural sensitive model. The research shows that the outcomes differ significantly. That is not to day that the Eurocentric model should be abandoned. On the contrary. My job is to teach main stream Eurocentric science so my kids are ready should they go onto college. Doesn't mean I cannot be sensitive to alternative approaches and logical constructs.

It is important that Law students learn Eurocentric logic as the bulk of of our laws are written with that logic in mind. But walking into a ghetto community, or a hispanic barrio as relying on white Eurocentric logic might just get you capped. Understandably. So students coming from these communities need to have an opportunity that allows their understandings to count for something towards Law school acceptance.

So no, logic is not just logic.

You would need to show me how logic isn't logic. There may be logical cultural explanations for things but the test tells you to ignore pretext. Only use the information given.

Questions are like if A is before B and B is before C and D is after E which letter is 3rd.

@Biosteelman Not always. You're too invested in your culture to see the difference. You are thinking on a white framework only. Given that, I can't possibly change your mind. Your mind is already cemented shut to other possibilities.

@t1nick Oh the define and shutdown technique. See if I hadn't majored in International Business with a Minor in Chinese, if I hadn't been raised Hispanic, if I hadn't traveled to multiple countries, I would be forced to agree with you. Unfortunately I am all of those and live in a cultural melding pot of a city.
Logic doesn't change. Cultural norms and expectations do. That's why Asians score well. Even though the syntax of their language is completely different, even though on the spectrum of cultural identifiers they tend to be most unlike American culture. Degree of difficulty of going from an Asian based language like Chinese or Japanese to English is a 5. While Spanish is like a second cousin and people raised in the same country, in the same school systems, with mostly similar cultural experiences have little to no excuse that Cultural Logic is causing a separation.

@Biosteelman Good argument. But I think there are some things you didnt consider. Yes the transition from Asian language to English is a five while Romance language transtion is less difficult. I made the point earlier that language is important in determining understanding. But its not the only factor. Culture is another factor. The Asians that come to study and live in the US are their best. As a culture they made a collective decision to do what is necessary to succeed. Their concept of work ethic is similar to ours.

Other cultures do not share that appreciation for our approach to the work ethic. As such there are trade offs. Our approach has lead to multiple health issues that other cultures do not suffer from. A lot of these are tied directly to our stressful approach to work and lifestyle.

In other cultures they approach life differently. I too have traveled and lived outside the country. There is a different logic to how things get done. Not necessarily on a time line or in a method we would choose. But in the end it gets done. Does that make their logic invalid?

@t1nick You're not arguing logic but cultural choices and normative. The answer to that is no, it DC doesn't make their choices invalid. There is nothing wrong with a culture following what it believes is the best or truest path. However logic isn't as about personal choices or living your best life. It is about inference and the ability to reason.

@Biosteelman. I concede your point. Within the context of a cultural system people still use logic as per their understanding of what works. A = B, then B = C, therefore. A should = C. The logic remains the same, but the values attached to those attributes change according to cultural values attached to them.

Then back to the original question. Perhaps the question isn't whether the LSAT is a racist test, but the test uses a language and examples that skew in the direction of specific groups.

Example: when I was engaged in my Masters research I ran across an example that might apply in this instance. A 4th grade teacher in the native community in NW Alaska had a 4th grade class that was well known for ots spelling acumen. They won all the local spelling bees. One day, he gave an assignment about a man mowing his lawn. They bombed the vocabulary test to a student. He was confused by the outcome. He finally realized that his students had no mental template to understand the words or the activities. You see where he lives and teaches, there is no such thing as a lawn, let alone mowing one. Thier world was ice, permafrost, and tundra. They have no cultural context.

Perhaps the solution is to re-write some of the LSAT questions to reflect different cultural and social contexts.

@t1nick I can't say that the questions have ingrained cultural knowledge. Perhaps phrasing is causing an issue.
So your point is well taken.
Best example of the phrasing issue we saw recently with Black Lives Matter. The phrase infers that some other lives may not matter, to some caucasian readers. However had the slogan been Black Lives Also Matter, no uproar.
The other example of a cultural divide on words is MAGA. Specifically the word Great. In black culture Great is akin to the best there ever was in any context. I think this is mostly due to GOAT used in sports. However for a country to be great it is a comparative and usually compared strictly with other countries at the same time. In that context while America could have been better in comparison to other countries they were Great.
However to me that's why we add "of all time" to specify and add meaning to the word great, without it. It becomes ambiguous.

@Biosteelman. I concur with your points.

BLM has an historical context. Blacks have continually born the brunt of institutional racism. Statistics clearly demonstrate that more men of color, especially blacks, die at the hands of police than any other group. Especially at the hands of white cops.

Therefore, they have a reason to declare BLM. The problem is one of marketing so to speak. When they formed and came out with their slogan, "BLM", the media didnt adequately explain the historical context from which it arose. Trump and his supporters immediately globbed on to it as a version of reverse racism. Whites still do not undetdtsnd, or do not eant to a knowledge that they undetstand what it refers to a d its importance.

MAGA, as you pointed out is a comparison with something. It seems that the movement is using the 1905's as their marker for greatness. The 1950's was a great time if you were a white male. However, Jim Crow was in full swing for blacks in the South. Women were relegated to wifedim, and the phrase ,"barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen" was prevalent. It was not a good time for women and minorities. Despite the booming economy. You talked about the symbolism behind "Great" a d its impact upon blacks. I insist that MAGA really means "Make America White Male Again."

@t1nick First and foremost no, Black men are not killed more often than White men. That is a false narrative. They are killed at a higher proportion to their representation in the general population however if you were to compare incarceration rates Whites are killed at twice the rate of Blacks based on their number of arrests. As for the other men of color only Native Americans die at a disproportionate rate to their arrest rates in comparison to the others.

We agree BLM was a marketing error but we disagree why. I spoke with a lot of my black friends and coworkers in length about it. I also spoke with a lot of other people about it. The near consensus in the Black community is the phrasing was clear to them. While the phrasing was not clear to others. This is because even though we are speaking the same language the root meaning and understanding of words are different. The difference is a divided culture.

1950's was a great era in America. The surge from becoming the primary producer in the world filled not just Whites pockets but everyone did better. Yes there was racism but there was also great success. Blacks in other parts of the world were not as a whole fairing better. More diverse people and minorities became famous and popular during than era than ever before in America. Did it need improvement of course. This was the rise of the great middle class in America.You are taking a Great of all time approach, and not considering great in contrast that the rest of the world was much worse.
Really missing the whole point I was making about the cultural context of words and their perceived definition.
BTW I don't like Trump but I'm not so blinded by my ideology I can't have empathy and understand those who voted for him and why.


I am going to post below part of a comment that was made on this article. I think it points out one of the basic problems with any admissions test, and that is that minority applicants often enter college with weaker skills than whites and Asians (due to the quality of education they get in the K-12 system). So the skills they bring TO the test are weaker and thus they look bad in comparison with white or Asian applicants. But their test scores assess only a small part of what is needed to succeed in school. The willingness to put forth extra effort can more than compensate for a difference in starting scores.

Here's the quote:
"...This article pretends that all of those African-American test takers in aggregate are starting and ending college in the same place in regard to academic background as the white and Asian test takers who are getting much higher scores so the LSAT must be "racist" somehow. However, again "in aggregate" a high proportion of those African-American test takes are really starting college up to six years behind in academic preparation which first must be remediated to get the to even graduate from college. While the colleges who train these students are trying really hard to get this done, meanwhile those who enter college well prepared are just moving ahead with four years more education. Unfortunately, this LSAT gap is resulting from the SAME fundamental problem with K-12 schooling as all of the other racial gaps in education. Until there is a real commitment to fixing that, it will not get any better."

Is it though the only way to prep for an LSAt is read better. You still have to logic each problem in a short amount of time.


A test is just a test. Never a 100% accurate predictor of future performance. But racist? What a joke!

zesty Level 7 Apr 15, 2019

I'm fine with it being a crap predictor. I agree that tests of ability or knowledge can't be truly racist.


Doing well on the LSAT has not shown to be a good indicator as to how someone will perform in law school. However, and do to many factors, 60 percent of minorities will do poorly while only 30 percent of white testers do poorly. So, it may not be the test so to speak, but societal actions that preclude it from being a worthwhile test.

GPA is also a poor predictor but LSAT still has an post graduation correlation between 20-50% so statistically significant.
More importantly performance is not a racist measure otherwise we would have to say sports are racist. Including scholarships and grants which disproportionately go to minorities.

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