Paul Campos wrote:The OP's post and replies in the thread illustrate a couple of very common psychological reactions/defense mechanisms, that I think are related in an interesting way.
(1) A basic refusal, at a psychological/emotional level, to accept the validity of statistically-based arguments. The OP no doubt understands that if half the graduates of a law school don't get jobs as lawyers that means the chances of not getting a legal job for graduates of that school is 50%, but, if he gets a legal job, this reasoning no longer applies, since the odds of him getting a job are now reinterpreted as 100%. After all, now he isn't a statistic, he's a "success."
(2) An overwhelming desire to give a moralized interpretation to statistical outcomes. If half his classmates didn't get legal jobs while he did, even though he wasn't an obvious candidate to get a job (not top 10% etc), then that must mean that they failed to do what he did to get a job (key terms: "hustle," "network").
This is all tied up with cultural imperatives to treat social outcomes as reflections of merit, as opposed to cronyism and other forms of unearned privilege, and most of all sheer random luck.
What I'm still curious about Prof Campos is how tied that 50% is to class standing. I realize OP doesn't address this at all, but I thought that there is a hard line at median. I think I'm wrong about that.