In Response to: Q&A: Marta Tienda [6]

Lamarckism is a discredited theory of biology that claimed that making external changes to an animal’s ancestors could affect its genetics; i.e., chopping the tails off lizards for a dozen generations could result in a new tail-less species. Affirmative action (“Equal Opportunity,” Life of the Mind, Feb. 4) is the Lamarckism of today, claiming that handing out preferences to certain students magically will redress wrongs committed on their ancestors. 

Lowering entry standards for any group, which is what affirmative action does, will not improve their achievement later. If that worked, runners would train for the Olympics by spending the year before the games in crutches.