Diversity is not our strength

“Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” ~ Alice in Wonderland.

Today’s impossible idea that I will no longer believe is that diversity is our strength.  There’s no evidence for that proposition, you know?  In fact, all the evidence is on the other side of the debate.

From Peter Drucker, to Robert Putnam (Bowling Alone) to Jonathon Haidt (The Righteous Mind) management consultants to social scientists have shown that successful enterprises and communities are formed by like-minded people having common goals who are often bound together by religious ties.

Haidt (page 308) wrote “high levels of immigration and ethnic diversity seem to cause a reduction in social capital….[It’s not that people are racist..It’s that there are] different kinds of social capital: bridging capital refers to trust between groups, between people who have different values and identities, while bonding capital refers to trust within groups.”  Diversity reduced both kinds of social capital.  It triggers social isolation.

Even the NY Times recently admitted as much when it quoted John Sides, a political scientist at George Washington University, “This is one of the better chances for contact to work and it doesn’t.” Contact being the theory that bringing together unlike people would serve to reduce between-group tension.  The article goes on to say that bringing unlike peoples together had the effect of increasing dislike and tension, i.e. apparently the more time unlike people spend with others unlike themselves, the more they isolate themselves and the more they dislike the others.

Isolation and dislike, hmm. Hardly sounds like a recipe for strengthening a group, does it?

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