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David White is a software/firmware/marketing professional and a long time investor. He has worked in the networking field, the semiconductor equipment field, the mainframe computer field, and the pharmaceutical/scientific instrumentation field. He has bachelor's degrees in bioresource sciences... More
  • Some Are Challenging My Veracity Re A Grade Challenge In College. 9 comments
    Dec 18, 2012 12:59 AM | about stocks: SPY

    Some gossip seems to be using an old grade challenge in College (U.C. Berkeley) to try to say I am not truthful about my stock calls, etc. Hence I think I need to clarify this.

    I challenged about 20% of a full professor's answers on one final exam. To support my claim I got a letter from an expert in the field of each question. One letter came from one of the editors of a book titled "The Kidney". He was widely regarded as an expert on the kidney; and I talked to the biggest expert at Stanford too, who agreed with him. Another letter came from a UCSF professor who was doing research on the exact topic of the question. I located him through a highly esteemed full professor in Biochemistry at U.C. Berkeley. In other words some professors at U.C. Berkeley agreed that I deserved to win my challenge. That UCSF professor later became head of the UCSF Biotech Center. It would seem he was really an expert. A third professor did not fully agree with me on another question. However, she did think I had sufficient reason to challenge my grade. She did seem to believe that my grade did not reflect the actual level of my knowledge. I later heard a rumor that she started a research project to investigate my contention. I heard she end up proving me correct. I heard some comments about my advancing medical science to get my grade changed. Much of the rumors about the third case above was just rumor, as I have stated. However, there is probably at least a 75%-80% chance that what I heard happened exactly as I have stated.

    I further point out that I did not get my grade changed based on these disagreements. I only got the three professors involved (one especially) to agree that my test was not a fair test of my knowledge or performance. My argument was: the professor could not possibly have taught me how to answer the questions correctly, if he could not answer them correctly himself. I thought then and I think now that this was a fair argument.

    I won the right to take another test. I had to wait until the class was taught again to make it a fair situation. I got my grade changed to reflect my performance on that test and on the previous two test in the original class. I ended up with an A-. It was only that low because I didn't realize exactly what the professor was asking for on a large question on the second test. I had actually known all of the things the professor wanted me to write down. However, I did not understand that he was asking for all of that data. I gave what many would consider a stock answer to that question. That's the way it goes sometimes.

    At least two of the professors were very amicable throughout this process. They even seemed a bit grateful to me for updating some of their course material, although they were not grateful for all the extra trouble. I would say we were generally on good terms after this was all over.

    David White

    Stocks: SPY
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  • The days of college are gone - thank goodness! The professors I found was someone to yell at in my youth. There wasn't a day that they did something right! Four years later, that was enough mental torture. Still can't believe - but someone has to give them a job!
    23 Jan 2013, 04:06 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Some are now apparently saying I just kept complaining until they gave me a grade I was satisfied with. There is probably some truth to that. However, as I see it, my claims were all justified.

     

    Further my dean told me almost before I started, that the department in question had managed to ignore just about everyone who had made complaints in previous years. Hence my strategy of getting written opinions from people who were really the foremost experts in the US in the subject of the question they were providing an answer for. When the next step in the complaint cycle is a complaint to the Academic Senate of the University, not many professors would want that to happen, if the complainant has letters agreeing with his complaint from the foremost experts in the country.

     

    I also point out that there were many other people in the class who did not complaint. It was my impression that they did not know enough to want to seriously question the professor's answers. The fact that I did would tend to indicate that I did know what I was talking about.

     

    In fact one of the more friendly of the three professors involved asked me how I was so sure I was correct (before I potentially made a fool of myself by asking true experts for their opinions). I answered him honestly. Apparently some students had heard of my complaints success, and they then wanted their grades changed. There were clues in the course and elsewhere that indicated the professor's answers were wrong. However, I do acknowledge that the cases involved were "wrong" due to leading edge scientific development.
    21 Dec 2013, 10:53 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » There now seem to be some who want to say this isn't so. However, the experts who wrote me the above cited letters are still around; and they are honest. The clear implication of these new rumors is that somehow they "GAVE" this to me. However, I probably knew more than the main professor involved about several aspects of the course. I went to the next iteration of the class in case the material changed as part of the process. During that time, I had more than one student tell me that they thought I knew the material better than the professor teaching the class. I think it is safe to say that I deserved the grade I got, when I got it. In fact, I probably would have gotten a higher grade except that I did not realize the professor wanted as much detail on one question as he apparently did. Such things happen, and there is little one can do.

     

    I would also point out that the University dismantled that department not too long after this. They spread out the professors in other departments. I know of at least one that left. I am sure part of this was due to fact that many of the professors in that department reached retirement age at about the same time. I also believe that there was some outrage from professors in other departments, who had had their good students have trouble in that department. These "good and concerned" professors had really known that there was some "cover for the other professor regardless of whether a student gets hurt" behavior going on. When my complaint pointed out clearly that these professors had been correct, I am sure they were more angry. Keep in mind that some professors were actively helping me. These professors may have had a hand in the eventual disbanding of this department.
    12 Apr, 04:43 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » I should also point out that people should not always focus too much on GRADES in such cases. If I proved 20% of the professor's final exam answers wrong, did the people who got A's deserve to get A's? How did they come up with wrong answers to match the professor's? I tend to think the professor fed the answers to the known good students in his department. This would explain why professors from other departments with good students in that class and other classes in this department seemed angry at this department. Of course, this last is just supposition on my part. I can only guess that the department's reply to their anger was likely that the courses were just harder. That must have made those professors just that much madder.

     

    As for other classes, I took another in this department in which the professor described one process 5 different times. He gave one description 3 times, and another incompatible description 2 times. He was one of the older professors. Some students taped his lectures, and they agreed with this dichotomy. There were a lot of areas for confusion in the lectures. When you add in that many fewer processes were not well understood at that time, there was even more room for confusion. In other words, the professor could not have accurately described some of the processes given the current knowledge available at that time. Yet students were expected to answer questions on them on the tests.

     

    I should mention that the Provost Dean of Letters and Sciences attended all of this last professor's lectures a few years after I took that class. I had little to do with that. I assumed, since the Provost Dean was a very busy man, that he was attending in order to assess a variety of different complaints about the lectures. I attended a class near that one, so I did personally see the Provost Dean going to the classes myself.
    13 Apr, 11:26 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » The rumor mill in reply to this has in some cases said that I am just mad that the last professor did not feed the answers to me.

     

    I was and am mad; but not for that reason. I am mad that he was feeding them to anyone. I was working very hard both in and outside of school at the time. Therefore I was mad at being treated to some poor and confused lectures. I should clarify that many professors at CAL do give good to great lectures. I was madder that the professor beyond the first week or two just refused to answer my questions. I at first thought this was just a personal dislike, especially when he started insulting me to other students. I later realized (a couple of years later) that he was in all likelihood just scared of my questions; and he was trying to scare me away by hazing me. I was mad that he seemed to be suffering (in my estimation and I have seen a lot of alcoholics) from acute alcoholism. I was mad when a couple of my friends who were pre-vet (and had jobs at the nearby horse racing track) told me that he was spending a lot of his time at the track. So yes, I was mad.
    14 Apr, 05:23 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Further rumors talk of two twin sisters I referred to a specialist. First they were friends of my sister (and to some extent my friends). They were very beautiful. There was some talk of one of them dating me. My sister felt I should know about a family trait that caused them to look less good later in life. Since I had been studying that recently at CAL, I knew that the problem could be solved; and I told my sister to explain the whole thing to them (I explained it to her). I referred them to a doctor at UCSF Medical Center who specialized in that medical problem. She had been a guest lecturer in one of my classes; and I was impressed with her knowledge of the subject, etc. From the recent rumors, they are still beautiful as a result.

     

    I also have heard that all I did was hang around the gym then. This was true to some extent when I got my first degree. I played on a varsity athletic team. However, during the time I was getting my second degree, I spent little time in the gym, although I still worked out a little. This situations above both occurred during the second degree period. Any slur implying that I just "played" is a completely FALSE slur. I was a full-time student (and I generally did very well). I worked part time; and I did volunteer work on top of that. I consider implications that I was lazy in any way at that time to be complete slander. There may still be a connection to the gym. In the first degree, the team I played on won a Western States Championship. Therefore my picture was still hanging in the gym for many year afterward. The university tends to display championship team pictures for a long time. If people recognize you from the gym (your picture), it does not necessarily mean you are there all the time. It was partially my impression that this professor did not like guys who were smarter, better looking, and college athletes on top of all his other problems with me.

     

    The main other professor in question was more athletic and I think good looking, so these things did not seem to be a problem with him.
    16 Apr, 04:54 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Now apparently some are wondering why the beautiful women did not find out what I told them from their own doctor. There are several likely explanations:

     

    1. At that time the treatment for the problem was relatively new. A lot of doctors probably did not even know there was a solution. The class I took was a semi-advanced endocrinology course. About one third of the lectures were given by expert specialists (MDs) in specific fields from UCSF Medical Center. Apparently the professor did not feel expert enough to teach them (or perhaps he intended to use their material the next year).

     

    2. When you go to see a doctor, there is usually a patient history chart to fill out. Esoteric problems like this one do not normally appear on such history questionaire charts. Therefore most doctors who see their patients for very short periods of time would not know there was anything wrong with what would appear to him/her to be a beautiful and healthy female. The doctor would simply not know there was anything that needed treatment unless he did a very comprehensive history. Most times this would not happen unless a patient complained. If that patient thought there was nothing that could be done about it, the patient would be unlikely to complain. I had the advantage of my sister trying to warn me that the woman I might date might not be as beautiful all of her life. Therefore I knew something was wrong. Due to my education, I also knew it could be treated effectively. Therefore I referred them to a specialist who could do so. I am happy I was able to help. They are both very beautiful and very nice women.

     

    3. Since this was relatively new science at that time, it is very possible that many doctors did not know what I knew. Therefore such doctors would not have known that it could be cured.

     

    This is not the only instance where I have done something like this. For instance, my uncle was arranging a trip of a group of doctors to the Philippines one time. I heard him tell one of the other doctors going (over the phone) to take chloroquine to the Philippines with him. This is an anti-malarial drug. Since I had recently taken a course in parasitology, I knew that there was 10% chloroquine resistance in the Philippines. I had the most up to date information. I suggested to my aunt that they actually take mefloquine. This was a new drug -- a chloroquine analog -- which had the same mode of action. However, the malaria strains in the Philippines were not resistant to it at that time. I believe they took my advice. This was many years ago. Apparently most doctors were not familiar with this drug yet. I like to think I prevented one or more doctors from coming home with malaria. The bottom line is that doctors are human beings. They don't know every new development as soon as the knowledge becomes available. Hopefully they keep learning; but that requires effort on their part that they do not directly get paid for. Some are better at continued learning that than others.
    16 Apr, 08:44 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » I should add in case there is any question, these two identical twins were two of the most beautiful women I have ever seen (at least at the time I last saw them). Each one could literally make Miss America look bad.
    16 Apr, 10:39 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » I should also add that CAL could easily screen for the type of behavior that I believe the "hazing" professor was practicing. They could get their computer science department to write programs that would be able to easily correlate GPA data, whether the student was in the major or not, and performance in a class. If no low GPA students in the major did well in a class, that would probably be a tell. If the non-major high GPA students did considerably worse than the high GPA students in the major, that would be a tell. The professor would in all likelihood be feeding answers to good students in the major. If this happened in many of his/her classes, the odds of "feeding the answers to students" would increase dramatically. In other words, with the current computer technology, CAL has no excuse for not preventing the type of behavior I have described. The exams are supposed to be FAIR to all students in the classes, not just easy for the ones the professor decides to favor with his/her benevolence.

     

    If they want to decry me for what I have said, they can. But they are then only really insulting themselves by failing to admit that this is probably still happening in some cases (and consciously covering it up).

     

    For the "hazing" professor, I was aware that he was checking grades for many students. In fact the few times I was in the head of the department's office (where the departments grade records were being kept then), he came in an inordinate number of times in order to inspect people's grades. I am sure the department head saw a lot more of him. For her to claim that she had no idea what he may have been doing is extremely hard to believe (if not impossible).
    17 Apr, 12:17 AM Reply Like
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