Lest this title confuse you, M Esa Seegulam started a thread on the WSO boards entitled “6 Reasons Why I Think David Kane Has no Soul”. I didn’t intend to post my reply on Ephblog, but given the fact that I took excessive amounts of time to write it (instead of working on my Bayesian Statistics problem set), I’d like to see something come of it.

Click to read my actual response on WSO.

As a long time reader of ephblog (and technically an author), I know David Kane’s writing well. He and I do not see eye to eye on most matters, but that’s not why I think he has no soul.

He generally takes it upon himself to ask and [attempt to] answer questions that no one is asking, which isn’t a problem in and of itself, but his methods for doing so generally succeed in needlessly ruffling many people’s feathers. For instance, in his most recent discourse, he questions whether students from a less selective college would be a good match for Williams.

Although I can see why his question could be a valid one to ask, his approach leaves something to be desired. If you are at all familiar with his writing, he invariably makes key (and false) assumptions about just about everything, jumps to premature conclusions, says things that don’t need to be said, and finally apologizes when someone proves him wrong beyond doubt. The most recent case is a good example of the Kane-esque style of writing.

Given the distribution of SAT scores and percentage reported by Xavier University-New Orleans, he states,

“Almost all the Xavier students probably fall in the bottom 5%, if not lower, of the Williams population.”

While I don’t care to discuss his statistical inferences, I think it is fairly unnecessary and likely untrue to claim that these bright and motivated students are less intelligent than the average Williams students. Had he done some further research and not jumped to erroneous conclusions, he would know that Xavier pre-med students are among the best and brightest of the nation. Further proving that he has no soul, he gives us gems like,

“On the bright side, putting the Xavier students in a Williams science class will help out the curve for everyone else.”

Now, in the likelihood that any transfer students read this post, please know that Williams students and administrators are generally not stuck up and condescending as this elitist bugger tends to be.

He has ironically posted a reply to his critics as I write this now. Despite accepting blame for certain false claims, however, he continues to say inappropriate things like,

“There is a reason that Williams probably would not have accepted you had you applied a few years ago. It is certainly rude of me to point this out, but it is a rudeness born of honesty, of a refusal to play at the PC theatre that seems to be as prevalent at Williams now as it was 20 years ago.”

While I really don’t care to enter the PC debate ever again, believing that you must be as brutally honest as possible is far worse than choosing to be more sensitive and politically correct with those involved. Despite the fact that I don’t think it’s true that, “Williams probably would not have accepted you had you applied a few years ago,” let’s say for a second that it is.

Why would you feel the need to point this out? Why is it necessary to say this? In a further example, let’s say that I think that David Kane ’88 was accepted into Williams only because his father graduated in 1954 and subsequently donated large amounts of money to the school. In this context, I also think that David Kane ’88 is an academic idiot and falls in the lowest 5th percentile of the Williams population. (Before anyone yells at me, I don’t actually believe this about David Kane or any other legacy student)

I could very well tell him, in the interest of honesty, “Hey David Kane, you big moron, you wouldn’t have gotten in had it not been for David Kane senior.” Is this at all called for or necessary? Absolutely not.

This is directed towards you, David Kane, as I know you will read this:

The fact that Xavier students, on average, score lower on the SAT’s than the average Williams students does not give you the right to obnoxiously insult any Xavier student. I would take you a lot more seriously if you stuck to the facts in your “discuss[ions of] hard, difficult, awkward issues at EphBlog,” and avoided being a jerk in inserting offensive little quips in the midst of your arguments. Lest you accuse me of being overly PC or not sufficiently intellectually curious, I have no problems discussing such murky topics if our discourse were grounded in reality and not your half-assed conjecture.

In the end, I’m convinced that David Kane does indeed have a soul, but it is a vindictive one, and he generally makes an effort to showboat his eliteness in condescending ways. Personally, I think he may very well purposely piss people off on Ephblog so that they may openly disagree with him and argue. It’s certainly exciting to see that someone cares so much about what you say that you have 41 replies to your post. In the end, however, I’d really like to see fewer potshots and less questionable reasoning in his posts. I would then gladly say that I respect his genuine curiosity and fervor in writing about “All Things Eph”.

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