Arthur C. Brooks, in the New York Times of all places, questions Academia’s double-standard on diversity.
One of the great intellectual and moral epiphanies of our time is the realization that human diversity is a blessing. It has become conventional wisdom that being around those unlike ourselves makes us better people â€” and more productive to boot.
Scholarly studies have piled up showing that race and gender diversity in the workplace can increase creative thinking and improve performance. Meanwhile, excessive homogeneity can lead to stagnation and poor problem-solving.
Unfortunately, new research also shows that academia has itself stopped short in both the understanding and practice of true diversity â€” the diversity of ideas â€” and that the problem is taking a toll on the quality and accuracy of scholarly work. This year, a team of scholars from six universities studying ideological diversity in the behavioral sciences published a paper in the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences that details a shocking level of political groupthink in academia. The authors show that for every politically conservative social psychologist in academia there are about 14 liberal social psychologists.
Why the imbalance? The researchers found evidence of discrimination and hostility within academia toward conservative researchers and their viewpoints. In one survey cited, 82 percent of social psychologists admitted they would be less likely to support hiring a conservative colleague than a liberal scholar with equivalent qualifications.
This has consequences well beyond fairness. It damages accuracy and quality. As the authors write, â€œIncreased political diversity would improve social psychological science by reducing the impact of bias mechanisms such as confirmation bias, and by empowering dissenting minorities to improve the quality of the majorityâ€™s thinking.â€
One of the studyâ€™s authors, Philip E. Tetlock of the University of Pennsylvania, put it to me more bluntly. Expecting trustworthy results on politically charged topics from an â€œideologically incestuous community,â€ he explained, is â€œdownright delusional.â€
Read the whole thing.
Diversity with respect to supposed victim’s groups, pace Mr. Brooks, is simply a load of crap. Everyone is a victim some of the time, in some respects. The children of the very rich have, by enormously disproportionate margins, extraordinarily selfish, often really neglectful, parents and are commonly burdened with expectations and obligations which most of humanity is spared.
Imagine growing up as George W. Bush with the living image of Frank Merriwell, captain of the Yale Baseball Team, Youngest Navy Pilot in WWII, as a father. You would be expected to live up to an absolutely impossible scale of human perfection. It’s no wonder that the poor chap originally took to drink. The astonishing thing is that he ever dried out.
Being African-American, being “Hispanic”, being a sexual pervert, even if you are actually from a privileged background makes you a highly valued, eagerly recruited representative of “Diversity,” but nobody gives a good goddamn about the diversity of being of a Belgian, Finn, Ukrainian or from any kind of poor, white working class or rural background.
Go watch one of the old-time Hollywood war movies. You didn’t need Sidney Poitier to achieve American diversity. There would be the Protestant blond farmer from Iowa, the Texas cowboy, and the rustic Southerner. Then, there’d be the Catholic Polack coal-miner, the funny little Italian, the tough Mick, and the heavily-accented prole from Brooklyn. And, as the really odd man out, you’d frequently have the very different too-small, too pacifistic, too-urban, or too-intellectual Jewish member of the platoon. There was plenty of diversity, in some ways more authentically than today, back in the Bad Old Days before today’s accredited forms of diversity were recognized and officially established.
Diversity? Places like Yale will really have diversity, when in addition to the university-provided Black Student Center, Women’s Student Center, Hispanic Student Center, and LBGT Center, there is a Conservative Center, a Redneck Center, and Gun Owner’s Center.