Meritocracy: Weyl Analysis on the Publicly Available Harvard Phonebook

In her critique of Ron Unz’s Myth of American Meritocracy article, Nurit Baytch noted that:

(…)Using the same methodology on the Harvard alumni directory that enabled me to reproduce Unz’s result that Jews represent 6-7% of NMS semifinalists in the 25-state aggregate (as Unz reported in the first table of Appendix E), I obtained the revised estimate that Jews represented 7-9% of Harvard College students in Fall 2008.[14]  I have also performed Weyl Analysis on Harvard College’s current and publicly available directory, yielding the result that 5-6% of current Harvard undergraduates are Jewish, which is slightly lower than the percentage of Jewish NMS semifinalists determined via Weyl Analysis.[15]  Thus, when one uses the same objective methodology on the names of both NMS semifinalists (Unz’s proxy for the pool of qualified Harvard applicants) and Harvard undergraduates, one finds no evidence for Harvard’s “massive apparent bias in favor of far less-qualified Jewish applicants,” as claimed by Unz.

I performed Weyl analysis on the same publicly available Harvard phonebook. Doing it is a grueling process, see Baytch explain how to do it here. I counted everyone who have the surnames Cohen, Kaplan, Levy, Gold, Goldberg, Golden, Goldman, and Goldstein and is a student at Harvard College. As these names are (supposedly) found in 1 out of every 20 Jews I multiplied the number of people with those surnames(29) by 20 to get 580. Divided by Harvard’s total undergraduate enrollment(~6,700) this yields a figure of 8-9% of Harvard’s students being Jewish. Note that Baytch did her Weyl analysis in fall 2013 and I did mine today so the difference is not unexpected. Note also that this is a very small sample size.

There is a problem with this method however. In the Harvard phonebook FAQ it states:

Q: Why can’t I find the person I’m looking for? I know he or she is affiliated with Harvard.

A: Individuals may elect to keep all or some of their contact information private. If you have Harvard login credentials, click the “Log In” button to view additional data available only to the Harvard community.

We can’t know how many people elect to keep all their information private, if it is a lot then 8-9% may be a significant underestimate. In addition, it should be pointed out that it is a significant underestimate as we know that at least 9.5% of Harvard’s population are Jewish by religion, more are going to be Jewish by ethnicity.(See my critique of Meritocracy for what I think about the true proportion of Jews at Harvard) Neither I nor Batych claim the number of Jews at Harvard is that low, rather we claim that Weyl analysis likely underestimates the number of Jews.


Nurit Baytch, A Critique of Ron Unz’s Article “The Myth of American Meritocracy”

Harvard Public Directory, accessed January 19 2016

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