David Friedman writes on his blog.

I had an interesting recent conversation with a fellow academic that I think worth a blog post. It started with my commenting that I thought support for "diversity" in the sense in which the term is usually used in the academic context—having students or faculty from particular groups, in particular blacks but also, in some contexts, gays, perhaps hispanics, perhaps women—in practice anticorrelated with support for the sort of diversity, diversity of ideas, that ought to matter to a university.

I offered my standard example. Imagine that a university department has an opening and is down to two or three well qualified candidates. They learn that one of them is an articulate supporter of South African Apartheid. Does the chance of hiring him go up or down? If the university is actually committed to intellectual diversity, the chance should go up—it is, after all, a position that neither faculty nor students are likely to have been exposed to. In fact, in any university I am familiar with, it would go sharply down.

The response was that that he considered himself very open minded, getting along with people across the political spectrum, but that that position was so obviously beyond the bounds of reasonable discourse that refusing to hire the candidate was the correct response. 

The question I should have asked and didn't was whether he had ever been exposed to an intelligent and articulate defense of apartheid. Having spent my life in the same general environment—American academia—as he spent his, I think the odds are pretty high that he had not been. If so, he was in the position of a judge who, having heard the case for the prosecution, convicted the defendant without bothering to hear the defense. Worse still, he was not only concluding that the position was wrong—we all have limited time and energy, and so must often reach such conclusions on an inadequate basis—he was concluding it with a level of certainty so high that he was willing to rule out the possibility that the argument on the other side might be worth listening to.

An alternative question I might have put to him was whether he could make the argument for apartheid about as well as a competent defender of that system could. That, I think, is a pretty good test of whether one has an adequate basis to reject a position—if you don't know the arguments for it, you probably don't know whether those arguments are wrong, although there might be exceptions. I doubt that he could have. At least, in the case of political controversies where I have been a supporter of the less popular side, my experience is that those on the other side considerably overestimate their knowledge of the arguments they reject.

Which reminds me of something that happened to me almost fifty years ago—in 1964, when Barry Goldwater was running for President. I got into a friendly conversation with a stranger, probably set off by my wearing a Goldwater pin and his curiosity as to how someone could possibly support that position. 

We ran through a series of issues. In each case, it was clear that he had never heard the arguments I was offering in defense of Goldwater's position and had no immediate rebuttal. At the end he asked me, in a don't-want-to-offend-you tone of voice, whether I was taking all of these positions as a joke. 

I interpreted it, and still do, as the intellectual equivalent of "what is a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?" How could I be intelligent enough to make what seemed like convincing arguments for positions he knew were wrong, and yet stupid enough to believe them?

Yup. (Q_Q)


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sort of diversity, diversity of ideas, that ought to matter to a university.

Are you sure about that? It seems like a function of universities can/should be to filter out as many terrible ideas as possible so people can spend time exploring and exchanging worthwhile ideas without spending too much overhead on epistemic hygiene.

A good restaurant with a diverse menu won't put spam-and-mustard-cake on the menu, even though it would certainly up the diversity.

A restaurant achieves this by promoting good recipes though, not by delving into unfiltered recipe space and then removing the bad recipes. The filtering-out step occurs way before anyone considers putting the recipe on a restaurant menu, at the stage where someone with a reasonable amount of cooking knowledge and common sense considers the question of what might taste good. A professor candidate who holds non-mainstream views relevant to their teaching which are sufficiently transparently wrong, should be able to be eliminated on grounds of simple competency, as would a chef candidate who has somehow come by the misapprehension that spam-and-mustard-cake would be a tasty dessert.
It is a question of timing. If you want to research a problem, first you consider alternative hypotheses, then you test them experimentally, and then you throw away the ones which did not pass the experimental test. At the moment of generating hypotheses, you want diversity. Of course, your time is limited, so you shouldn't bother with hypotheses with huge complexity and epsilon prior probability, so you do some filtering anyway. But you want to have a few competing hypotheses. (You want to keep the hypothesis that the 2-4-6 rule [http://lesswrong.com/lw/iw/positive_bias_look_into_the_dark/] could work for odd numbers too.) Only later, when some hypotheses are experimentally disproved, you can safely ignore them. (More precisely, there is always a probability that the experiment was wrong. But a good experiment, or many repeated experiments, can move the hypothesis to the epsilon zone.) So the question is which opinions are unwelcome in universities because they were experimentally disproved, and which opinions are unwelcome, because they are already unacceptable at the hypothesis generating phase. To which category would the hypothetical supporter of South African Apartheid belong? What exactly are his claims, and which of them have been tested?
Yes, undergrads should be taught good and useful ideas. Graduate students however need to be taught both the good ones and the bad ones because professors need to be able to examine ideas from outside and make coherent arguments about whether or how they are good or bad. When I have met people who complain that graduate schools waste their time on things that they don't want to learn, I have explained to them that they don't really want a graduate degree, or more to the point, they don't really want a graduate education, they clearly do want the degree.
Should we apply that principal to the library as well? Remove all the books with "terrible ideas"?
Same principle. I wouldn't advise wasting library funds on creationist textbooks, and I would recommend removing factually-inaccurate items from the non-fiction section. But books are still a better place to hedge against the possibility that my idea-quality-metric is seriously broken, as a matter of economics. I'd still prioritize good ideas over terrible in book acquisition, but with an added component for diversity as judged by my quality metric (aiming for a long-tail distribution as judged by my personal idea-quality metric, for example). You can have many-more books than faculty, so this is a good, economically-efficient way to purchase idea diversity without wasting your very-limited-resource of faculty spots. Throwing out books has cost (in time and effort to judge quality), so I'd only throw out terrible books if there was some constraint on shelf space or something (and then I'd rather sell or give away than simply toss).
I don't think that the principle is the same. "Book existing in a library" isn't a privileged position like "tenured faculty" or "column in a major newspaper" or "book promoted by a major publisher."
The trouble here is that if you don't observe a taboo on exercising judgment over which ideas are acceptable or worthwhile in presenting to the public, then people with fundamental disagreements with you on such matters, given a position of power, are unlikely to observe it either.
I tend to assume that people with disagreements that fundamental are sufficiently different from me that coordinating on something like this is extremely unlikely in the first place. Also note that everyone exercises judgment in this regard; even the most self-proclaimed "open-minded" person won't endorse teaching Time Cube in schools. Usually. I hope.
The trouble here is that if you do observe a taboo on exercising judgment over which ideas are acceptable or worthwhile in presenting to the public, then people with fundamental disagreements with you on such matters, given a position of power, are unlikely to observe it anyways. On a side note, I think that libraries typically stock in accordance with demand and costs, not merit. Am I wrong about this, or am I right yet mistaken in also believing that librarians do a satisfactory job?
I think at this point in history, libraries are irrelevant. In the far past, books etc. were expensie and libraries kept whatever they could get. They were, collectively, the waybackmachine.org of the world. More recently, they would buy what their customers might find most useful for research. A collection of books and especially years and years of journal subscriptions. These would be local copies, with no real archival purpose in holding these, these would always be available somewhere else. Now, I don't know what they do. I have gotten a few books from university libraries in the last few years, so they served to save me some money and/or allow me to read things I wouldn't have spent the money on.
Personally, I've been had at least one nonfiction book checked out of the library at all times for the past several months, and it's allowed me to spend a lot of my transportation time (I read while walking, and while taking public transit) reading up on things that aren't online, which I wouldn't have paid retail price for. Libraries receive a lot of books by donation, so many books in their stock are not vetted in terms of demand or cost, but they'll sometimes clear out books in a section which aren't being borrowed in order to make room for other books.

It turns out that different people mean different things by "diversity".

Some people make the argument that diversity of participants' social, economic, or cultural backgrounds is good for truth-seeking inquiry. If everyone in the discussion is from similar backgrounds, they are more likely to have correlations among their biases and areas of ignorance, and the results of their inquiry will reflect these.

(However, there may be particular cultural views which are incompatible with participating in diverse inquiry because they manifest intolerance of diverse inquiry. One example: views which instruct the adherent to kill people who disagree with them, or to kill people of particular cultural backgrounds. The problem with having a Khmer Rouge partisan in your conversation is not that he keeps saying Khmer Rouge things; it's that he keeps trying to kill the intellectuals.)

Some people make the argument that culturally non-diverse organizations are more likely to do things which are harmful to the unrepresented people; so underrepresented people should seek representation to avoid harm. For instance, ceteris paribus, a government consisting only of white people (as in apartheid ... (read more)

Some people also make the related but distinct argument that where that mixing isn't happening within organizations that are particularly well-suited to achieving goals, that means unrepresented communities don't have access to that organization's goal-achieving power, and to the extent that we value equal access to that power by all communities it means we're failing to implement that value, and that all of this is independent of whether anyone is expending energy to exclude anyone, or has any desire or intention to exclude anyone, or whether we notice it.
In some cases it could be the specific background which prevents people from using a specific organization. For example if there is a religion saying that making cars is a sin, then the lack of those people in car factories does not necessarily mean that the car factories are expending energy to keep them out. Even if "someone" expends the energy, it does not have to be always the obvious suspect.

This type of argumentation isn't really what I want posted. Too much straw, not enough subtlety.

For more good examples of many of your points, see Hitchens e.g. 4:30. If you feel like reading something taboo today, I would recommend the old apologetics for American slavery. Some of them are really good: will black people be better off as somebody's valuable property or as a competing source of poor labor? Who here really likes black people? How do you think they'll do when they are "free"? We can give a half-shrug to the paternalistic crap, but we can't shrug away what happened after Reconstruction ended.

All that said, David Friedman is disastrously wrong.

Should we never hire a slavery apologist for a professor? No, we should still require ourselves to think. Should it be counted against an applicant? Yes, and heavily. I promise to explain, but first, "diversity".

If you can't recognize the distinction between "let's not fill the room with old white dudes" and "any diversity is good for its own sake", I can't help you. (If you really need me to, I will argue why the examples of diversity in the first paragraph here matter.) Not all representation is good. We all know it isn't good to have "both sides" present. It'... (read more)

It's perfectly reasonable to marginalize viewpoints that are really, really stupid or really, really abhorrent.

Like there's no God, and mankind wasn't a special creation of the Lord, but shares common ancestry with chimps, rodents, and slime mold. How abhorrent!

Hitchens had it right in his comments that you point to, and you'd do better to attempt to refute them than ignore them. Hitchens in other venues has defended David Irving as "probably one of the 3 or 4 necessary historians of the Third Reich". People who question your fundamental premises are extremely useful for helping to clarify why you believe what you do.

Having the state disqualify people for employment based on the moral repugnance of their ideas is the mark of theocracy. Out with the blasphemers!

And you'd do better to pay attention. You'll notice I never argued against Hitchens. Step back, breathe, and come back to me with some thoughts. Trust me, I've read more of his work than you have. An exercise for the reader: how did you get from "really bad/stupid views - our judgment of which being flawed - are a negative that should count against a potential faculty member" to theocracy? Some people will say anything.
Breathing just fine. You may have read more of Hitchens than I have. I've likely watched more than you. I guess we could play whose got the biggest swinging Hitchens phallus, but I don't see the point. I note that you left out the relevant part of what you originally wrote: Yes, those with ideas you "abhor" shouldn't be hired. In what way do you find this materially different from shunning blasphemers?
Well you notice that I put the two different things side by side in the same sentence to make it really really easy for you. Let's do it again with "theocracy" and "shunning blasphemers." You're shifting. Here's a hint: at no point have I said that faculty who come out with horrible views should be fired. I also haven't said that people with horrible views should be fined, imprisoned, or banned from publishing. I just don't think they should have an easy time finding a major publisher to air their horrible views or a major newspaper willing to run a holocaust-denying opinion column, a state of affairs which it is left to the owners and editors of such outlets to induce - not the state. I think being nasty and stupid should cost you. I think we should minimize the nastiness and stupidity and time wasted by such people.
I think what you are saying here is "We should not precommit to not hiring slavery apologists." Is that right?
Rather, the commitment to not hiring slavery apologists isn't absolute. It should be treated like a real decision with costs and benefits, with the slavery apologetics considered a serious cost. If you could hire Bob or Steve, where Bob is politically "usual" and Steve is holocaust denialist, you should hire Steve only if he is a considerably better choice than Bob on "usual" grounds. Edit: I would also add that hiring a slavery apologist when you already have one is a heavier cost still. These are not vacuum decisions. Similarly, if every one of your faculty has political views acceptable to either liberals or conservatives, you should reduce the "nasty cost" of hiring a fascist or a Stalinist.
The thing is current universities are perfectly willing to hire Stalinists.
Yeah, current universities are dominated by Stalinism. Obviously.
"dominated by X" is not the same as "willing to hire X" Most universities in my country would be perfectly OK to hire a Stalinist, as long as the person does not spend their whole day speaking about it. (Your country may be different.)
I know, Viliam. I was responding to the obvious implication. I've been seeing a lot of signs of the sketchy Right in here.
What is your evidence for this?
I certainly encountered at least one Stalin apologist in my college years, but that's hardly evidence of an institutional permissiveness, particularly towards Stalinist, which would be somebody who supports Stalin's tactics. Anybody have any ideas on how to test the theory? Google seems utterly useless; all it comes up with is somebody named Grover Furr. Which may be proof that is can happen, but since AFAICT he was tenured -before- he caused controversy (in 2012), it's at best weak evidence that universities would in fact -hire- a Stalinist. Additionally, I'm not sure his claim qualifies as Stalinism, per se, as it is, in effect, denying that -Stalin- was a Stalinist, but rather a Neo-Stalinist.
Well, not quite a Stalinist, but look at all the eulogies for Soviet apologeticist Eric Hobsbawm by "mainstream" papers and accademics.
Who was almost universally recognized as a great historian and exactly the sort of person I would encourage universities to hire, despite his apologetics for Soviet communism.
So do you think if he had instead been an apologist for facism or apartide or Jim Crow he would have gotten the same recognition?
I don't think that his Sovietism damaged him proportionately to its awfulness, in case you're wondering. The explanation for that comes from him being a humanities professor in England from the Orwellian era. The question I have is, do you have any nominees for fascist or Jim Crow-defending historians on par with Hobsbawn? But since you asked, I think you'll find that historians are pretty diverse in their politics. I don't think you get anything more than a group-local bump for being a Marxist, and I don't think that being a Marxist would help you get hired or advanced at many universities. (In England, this wasn't always true.) Edit: I floated the idea of Solzhenitsyn and a few others that have been well-loved here, particularly since he's a counterexample to the idea that Sovietism is at fault for Hobsbawm's eulogies. But Solzhenitsyn wasn't an English or American professor, and while he was a religious and ethnic bigot, he wasn't a fascist either. This would be a good question for somebody who is well-read enough to confidently give political labels to dozens or hundreds of prominent historians off the cuff. I am not that somebody. I happen to suspect that the answer is yes, since it's pretty easy to find nasty views amongst lionized figures from all over our intellectual history. It's not hard to find well-praised sexists, racists, and etc. in academic history. But we need more recent history, and what I can't do is name a fascist historian on par with Hobsbawn off the top of my head.
How do you know the thing is false if you systematically censor any arguments for it? Taboo [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Rationalist_taboo] "racism".
How do you know the thing is true if you would have promoted anybody that would say it? Do you know all the arguments for marginalized positions with which you disagree? If not, would you say you do not know that some of them are really false? Internet people are weird. I read Mill and Orwell all day and have no idea where they get their ideas of liberty from. They might talk like liberals when it comes to beating up gay kids. Ok, obviously good stuff is obvious. But then they start saying they same things about kids who beat up gay kids... They'll talk like liberals when it comes to Klansmen and fascists and other nasty folk, and they'll talk like conservatives when it comes to black people and women. That makes sense: the principle is inexpensive when we're talking about the genuinely, completely marginal. But "other" groups that have a real shot at having a decent share of power...
I don't think anyone is calling for promoting anyone merely for being willing to say controversial things. Here's an idea: try looking at the logic of their argument and not simply whether the conclusion feels repugnant to you for not. You may want to start by figuring out what you mean by "racism", here are some questions (from one of my comments [http://lesswrong.com/lw/gux/dont_get_offended/8kvx] in another thread) to help guide the process:
I can repeat myself all day, but I'll do it just this once: I want administrators and faculty to think. I want them to think of Mr. Tilbert's white-robed weekends as a real cost before they make him Dr. Tilbert. Mr. Tilbert could be a perfectly decent economist. Don't hire him. Or he could be really good. Then hire him. We could talk about what's been important here all along. Or I can restart by carefully explaining what I mean by "racism". But then, I'm not your pet monkey.
What do you think is important here? Shunning people whose opinions you abhour or aquiring true beliefs. People tend to mean different things by "racism". I what to know what you mean by it.
I thought sticking to the original topic would be important, and I don't shun people whose opinions I abhor. I live in the South, and that would be a lonely life. With relevance in mind, we move onto I'm not a university administrator or faculty member or newspaper editor. We're talking about those people. On this topic, those people are the ones responsible for recognizing false and nasty beliefs, e.g. racism. It's important to know how they evaluate it. And they will evaluate it, even if you want them to pretend that they aren't doing it. They'll notice what David Irving has done even if you very politely ask them to not do so. (I'll put this out there: I would hire Irving, assuming he was only to teach advanced students, were it not for his history of suing critics.) As for what I mean by "racism", I suppose I wasn't clear before, so here it is: you're not Socrates, and I am not your pet monkey. Addendum: If you want people to answer your questions, I suggest answering theirs.
So you won't say what you mean by "racism" but insist that it's false and nasty. I've heard different definitions of "racism", a number of those definitions wind up including making certain statements that are in fact true, or at least likely to be true. Which question in particular were you refering to?
Ok, I can do give and take. First, an inadequately answered question: To which you said Where the opening paragraph of the article in this thread states a defender of Apartheid should given diversity have an increased likelihood of being hired by that virtue. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I somehow believe that telling our prestigious institutions to select for cranks will make it even harder for laymen to sort out the truth than it is already and undermine trust in those same institutions. It will also skew scientific consensus even when that consensus is deserved. Second, a far more important and entirely unanswered question: Give these items a good effort, and I will return in kind.
I'm looking forward to the give and take, so out of impatience I'm going to add another question. In return I'll give a rough idea of where I am concerning racism. From a different area of the comments: You can change the "and" to an "or", if you like. I'm interested if you would say something like, "no, but significantly less open than it would have been were it not for X." We might agree. Racism: I'd make some boilerplate noises about inherent tribalism and group psychology as general background. Then I'd make some more boilerplate noises about the particulars of racial history in America. For the conceptual work, I would avoid any bother with necessary and sufficient conditions and go straight to fuzzy categories and representatives, along with some type distinctions. As a Less Wrong resident, you should know why I'd prefer this approach to what non-nerds typically do when asked what they mean by something: try to give a precise definition. If you try to do that, you'll probably include some true things that should be believed and doesn't make you a racist in any significant sense. For example, "judging people by the color of their skin." That's a terrible definition, but I bet it's a common answer. I can very accurately infer quite a lot about a person using skin color. When I meet a Korean or American-Korean, I've met something locally rare: somebody who knows what I mean when I say I watch professional Starcraft.
So which elements of this fuzzy category do you consider "false and nasty". For example, what do you think of John Derbyshire [http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=4270]?
I think Derbyshire is partly right, partly silly, and would have a lot less reason to be nervous around black people if he learned "how to act", as those scary strange black folks say. If you want my opinion on any of his itemized points, feel free to ask, but responding to them all would be a novel - and I didn't disagree with them all. And I think his question is weak-to-moderate evidence for false-and-nasty racism. But Derbyshire doesn't really work as a general signal flag for racism. Racial essentialism is one obvious answer: the idea that races are essential categories like species. Racism is also correlated with predictable, relatively negative across-the-board outcomes based on race. Racism is realtors directing black people to poor black neighborhoods and white people to relatively affluent neighborhoods. Racism is calling for the prohibition of any attention to racial disparities while pretending that you and everybody else can pretend to be "colorblind." Some of these are stronger indicators than others, and there are a lot more I could list. The "colorblind" folks aren't always nasty - see e.g. Morgan Freeman before he saw some of the reactions to Obama's election - but they are wrong.
What do you mean by "how to act"? If you mean it's necessary to adopt a different set of behaviors when around blacks, this is precisely Derbyshire's point. What do you mean by "essentialism"? After all the distinction between species isn't always clear either. What specific statements of theirs do you believe to be wrong.
There's a difference between "change of behavior" and "RUN!" A party full of black people will tend to have a different atmosphere than a party full of white people, just like parties with different mixes of age groups and genders will have a different atmosphere. Normal, healthy people can pick up on social cues. Black people are used to white people being scared of them. They have a good chance of noticing, and yes, they'll respond to that. Probably negatively. If you get nervous around large groups of black strangers and you can't help it, I would advise avoidance. There are situations where anybody - comfortable or not - should be "sketched out" and make their exit, but the indicator isn't "oh gee lots of black dudes here." A better one would be, "oh gee that's a lot of neck tattoos." If you're a good Darwinian, sure. But if you think that black people are an intermediate between humans and chimpanzees, or you believe that black people are the cursed "sons of Ham", or... Here's Morgan Freeman before [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2d2SzRZvsQ] and Morgan Freeman after [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cm6Iszm31qI]. He's dumb in both videos, but suddenly he sees this racist "underline." It's pretty hard to miss a racist "underline" in lots of policies and statements past and present, from "states' rights" to disparity in crack-cocaine sentencing to criminalization of loitering to the war on drugs to... Recognizing race and making associations based on race is System 1. It doesn't go away. White people will still notice that black people are black, and black people will still notice that white people are white. I take the fundamental premise to be impossible.
So, what specific behaviors did you have in mind? Yes, if you insist of seeing X in everything, it's not hard to miss the X "underline" in everything, whether X is racism, Illuminati influence, or the hand of Satan. In particular recognizing difference in behavior between people of different races (even if one isn't willing to consciously admit the difference for fear of being "racist") is system 1. Somehow this effect didn't seem to stop Asians.
I'm going to wait for you to try again on this one.
It would help if you said what you didn't like about the parent.
I thought you would be able to interpret that as "all of it" and be able to find the obvious reasons why, but ok. I behave differently around groups of young men like myself, at company meetings, when visiting a synagogue, at family gatherings, with friends, at dinner with a family of asian immigrants, at bars, with strangers... I will behave differently around feminists and strict conservatives. I will behave differently with a group of black strangers. I use background knowledge and empathy to make my adjustments, usually automatically - the automatic process only being sufficiently reliable in relatively familiar situations. An example: if at any point you become tempted to defend "race realism" or talk about how not racist you are, you're probably doing it wrong. If you are at any point accused of racism, you're probably doing something wrong, but even if you weren't, don't argue. Black people don't usually like white strangers appointing themselves the local expert on white-on-black racism. If you get as nervous as Derbyshire, it might be best to follow his advice and avoid such situations. If you're new to it, be prepared to make mistakes however well-intentioned you are. The key is owning up to them when you make them. Most of all, remember that the point of your being there is to share in some common activity with your fellow human beings. A note from personal experience: like most groups of young men, young black men like ribbing each other. If you can't keep your cool, you're in for a hard time. 99% of the soured situations I've seen have run as follows: me and other white dude and some black guys are hanging out, having a good time, trading jokes, and killing brain cells. Black guy makes a joke at other white dude's expense, and the other white dude can't keep chill. I swear you can see the bullseye appearing on his forehead as soon as he starts. Everybody notices instantly, and it's all downhill from there. My advice is almost entirely commonsensical
Here's a fun exercise. Try going to your nearest black underclass neighborhood, preferably at night. See how well this advice serves you. This seems like a total non sequitur. A century ago this was much closer to the standard stereotype.
My advice implied this where... I wonder... Hate to have to say it, but I wouldn't advise doing that. I wonder if in some alternate universe where I, a black man, was explaining to a black Eugine Nier about adjustments in behavior he should consider around groups of unfamiliar white people, whether that black Eugine Nier would suggest I try it out in rural West Virginia. From your previous comment and others you've made in this thread, you seem to think that talking about any racial distinctions is taboo and verboten, especially in academic circles. That just isn't true. We could talk about that, just like we tend to have to talk about new topics whenever you tire of the original ones. I could pick a new thing to talk about too, like problems with "model minority" stereotypes. Or I can get closer to the original, and ask for what relevant similarities you see between Asian people and black people - apart from their being minorities - that makes you seriously wonder "why black people haven't done it."
Notice how precisely you had to specify the place and location (and even then I'm not convinced the situation would be as dangerous), whereas I merely pointed you to the neighborhoods where a majority of blacks live. The fact that they faced discrimination and were considered subhuman, i.e., the thing I mentioned in the parent and you called a "new topic".
Yeah, we've been at this for a few days now. I think I've humored you enough at this point. If you want to get past raw assertions and have a more serious discussion about academic bias and race, try finding the relevant studies and reading the relevant history instead of giving us more of your armchair impressions. Also, lay off the right wing press. It obviously isn't helping you. Also, don't reflexively downvote comments from people you're arguing with. Also, don't ignore their questions and responses. Also, stop shifting topics instead of acknowledging a fair point.
I use several heuristics to decide which ones are worth my time. Most of them are the ones mentioned by Paul Graham in his essay What you can't say [http://www.paulgraham.com/say.html].
Ok, now use those heuristics to establish the following proposition as a university administrator: we should hire Graham instead of Robert, because Graham is a Stalinist.
Probably not since the far left is already over-represented on campuses.
Ok, so to state the obvious, all this has nothing to do with intellectual diversity, but hatred of the left?
Huh? How does hiring even more members of an already overrepresented fringe group promote intellectual diversity?
If you like, you can pick something other than Stalinism. I only said that one because it was something you obviously dislike. Think of some other rare left-wing idea, if you like. If you'd be so kind, I'd also appreciate some presentation of what you think the political atmosphere in American Universities is like, preferably with citations. I think you and I are coming from entirely different places on this.
Where are all these Stalinists, again? I used an example from the original link, btw.
Mission accomplished [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Movement]!
Your comment could be read two ways: it could mean that it is now taboo to actually practice racism, or it could mean that it is now taboo to accuse someone of doing so.

Is it diversity to hire a creationist to teach evolution? Should we get a few faculty with no higher education? Perhaps some that are illiterate?

I think, implicitly, there are things we want to be diverse about (backgrounds, religions, genders, races) and things we want to be non-diverse about (ability to communicate, ability to teach, commitment to communication and teaching at University level, commitment and ability to treating students and colleagues with respect.) Beyond that, I believe we had an easier time attracting females in to engineering... (read more)

The idea of an illiterate professor is intriguing. If someone illiterate is an excellent teacher of dance, a visual art, story-telling, or something else which doesn't require writing, why not?

Because they couldn't handle all the education-related bureaucracy. :D
Friedman on this in the comment section: and:
I think he overestimates what is possible for creationism. Sometimes, indefensible ideas are actually indefensible.
As a physicist, I don't think a creationist works, at least not as a general expert in Physics. Cosmology, planet and solar system and galaxy formation, all these are pretty senseless if you believe the universe was created 7000 or so years ago. If I were interviewing a talented researcher for physics faculty and they expressed a belief in creationism I"d tell them I didn't want to hire them because I would never want a full professor of physics suggesting to students that a semi-literal interpretation of a text compiled over a thousand years ago should trump billions of dollars worth of more recent research and analysis. It is plausible that they could give me an answer that would put my concerns to rest, but I think unlikely based on my previous experience with creationists and non-creationist physicists. To be fair, of course there are billions of non-creationists I would not want to hire as a physics professor as well. I doubt apartheid is anywhere as disabling to a physicist as is creationism. I would be concerned it would be associated with an inability to teach blacks as well as whites, and to be fair in grading blacks as well as whites. It is a bit ridiculous to claim to believe political rights should be apportioned to people based on their race, but that university education and grading should somehow be race-blind. He'd have to be a heck of a good candidate otherwise for me to consider taking the risk that he would somehow be crazy enough to be racist in his politics but not in his professional life. And again, I can't imagine what he could tell me that would assuage me, but I"m not ruling out there might be something.
Fair point, though not all creationists are young-Earthers [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Earth_creationism].
Are there any creationists who don't overweight their interpretation of the bible compared to the billions of dollars worth of research and analysis done since the bible was written? Are there any atheist creationists? Any creationists who get there based on the billions of dollars worth of research and analysis done in the last 1000 years?
For what department would the wrong view on apartheid be "immediately relevant"? Even in political science, why is the preference for one system over another relevant to truth claims about those systems? So you can have diversity of moral views, but not when those views would be relevant to the subject at hand? We couldn't let morally icky views into discussions where they are relevant, though Friedman would still allow them to be employed where their icky moral views would not infringe on the topic they're hired for. The new flavor in academic tolerance, theocrat lite. I suppose it's an improvement, but we've got a long way to go.
Friedman doesn't seem to consider apartheid a moral view, but an empirical one: And in general, he didn't seem to be saying about moral views.
What empirical facts do you see in the quote? The most I see are implications about recommendations. And I can't parse
Sorry, that's missing a word: "he didn't seem to be saying anything about moral views". This was in reference to your earlier comment, in which you seemed to be saying that Friedman would be saying that we could sometimes reject people based on their moral views, and sometimes not. My response was that Friedman didn't seem to be saying anything about rejecting or accepting people based on their moral views. He only said that people could be rejected if they held positions which the discipline they were being hired for had considered and rejected as clearly untrue, indicating that the people were actually incompetent for that discipline. As for the empirical facts that I see in the quote, it seems to be implying that various policies have different consequences and that the observed empirical consequences of apartheid aren't necessarily worse than those of the policy that South Africa actually ended up with, as measured on some generally accepted moral criteria (not being familiar with the arguments, I can't say anything more specific than that).
The original faculty applicant under consideration was a "supporter of South African Apartheid." He hasn't committed to any fact that could be untrue, he has a preference. Most people would classify it as a moral (or immoral) preference. For the empirical facts you see, you've projected a utilitarian viewpoint on the guy which he just may not have. But let's even go with that. Aren't judgments of whether apartheid is better or worse than other systems still moral judgments? Looking back at the quote, Friedman is just so wrong about the Marxist. He's saying that a Marxist would be an asset in a physics department but not an economics department. Wrong. I'm opposed to Marx and his theories, but given intellectual history, of course a Marxist would be an asset in an economics department. (And yes, he didn't literally say the Marxist wouldn't be an asset, only that they didn't "need" to hire him. But interpreted that way, the Marxist as asset versus Marxist not strictly needed is an apples to orange comparison with little point.)
Yes. Being a creationist wouldn't preclude someone from making correct and valuable critiques of evolutionary theory. You can be wrong about elements of a field but still make valuable contributions to it. Earlier somewhere in here, we talked about Christopher Hitchens defending David Irving, a holocaust denier. I pointed out that Hitchens described him as "probably one of the 3 or 4 necessary historians of the Third Reich". Creationism is a real and interesting problem. Last I heard, Ventner is creating life one base pair at a time. He's written water marks into the dna of his creatures. He's making it easy to see the design, but in general, how would one tell the difference between an evolved creature and an "intelligently designed" one? How would we tell the difference between some intelligently designed panspermia dna and dna that naturally evolved? I don't know. But I'd like someone to take a real stab at the problem.

I'll point out that a major component of why universities seek "diversity" is not because of an expected value in a broad assortment of perspectives, but to ensure that parts of the population aren't locked out of the academic system in a self perpetuating cycle. Affirmative action supporters generally look forward to a day when the groups favored by affirmative action policies will be able to break the cycle and compete evenly with other applicants purely on the basis of qualifications. The policies are more for the sake of the minorities, who t... (read more)

Some previously despised minority groups, such as Asian immigrants, have not only broken the self-perpetuating cycle, they've gone so far out of its orbit that their population in universities are actually being actively limited by these policies. Given that affirmative action is by some accounts responsible for higher university drop-out rates in target minorities, are you sure (I'm presuming you support the argument you're forwarding, my apologies if you're merely presenting it as an alternative line of argument raised by those who support the policies) that such policies aren't merely reinforcing the self-perpetuating cycle?

If you're presuming that I support the policies as practiced, you would be incorrect. I think that the argument has some merits in theory, but the implementation is not well devised to realize them.

That said, while I don't doubt that the rate of university dropouts among target minorities is higher than it would be without affirmative action, I would be interested and surprised if this led to a net decrease in university graduations among target minorities, which would be an allegation I haven't heard before.

The theory is that due to affirmative action target minorities get mismatched with schools. Thus they wind in in tougher schools then they should be and thus drop out.
I get the concept, but as I said, I would be surprised if the actual result is a lower level of college graduates in target minorities. I have no doubt that the system does push in some such underqualified students. But it also does push in candidates who grow into their environment, who become quite good students. It's not necessarily easy to tell in advance which will be which.
Well, the dropout rate among target minorities is certainly higher.
As I understand it, the change in peoples' view of Asian immigrants is partly because the immigrants have changed. A greater proportion of recent Asian immigrants to the US (compared with early waves of Asian immigrants) were of high socioeconomic status in their home country, and are coming for professional careers or to go to school, rather than to be factory or other low-status workers. (And depending on how you define caught in the cycle, the descendants of early Asian immigrants might still be - even if race isn't against them anymore (which it might be in some cases - I don't know), social mobility is still difficult.)
Also worth noting that social stigma and material/academic success often coexist.
They could compete evenly now, if by evenly we mean objective standards for winning the competition. It seems that "compete evenly" means instead "win just as often", and the rules of the game will include deliberate biases until that occurs. In fact, it will include such biases even when they win more often, as is the case with women in higher education.
Not necessarily. The intended-case scenario for affirmative action recipients are individuals with aptitude just as high as other candidates, but with lower performance due to lower prior opportunities (lower quality education, less ability to afford tutors and SAT prep, etc.) who quickly catch up to the more advantaged students. Even a best-case implementation of affirmative action would probably end up going to a significant number of students who turned out not to be such, but the existing-case system does turn out such students.

How could I be intelligent enough to make what seemed like convincing arguments for positions he knew were wrong, and yet stupid enough to believe them?

This... makes so much sense for the human hardware, actually.

"How can you be smart enough to discuss the topic X intelligently, and yet dumb enough to not notice that the tribe X is losing the fight and you could have easily joined the winning side instead? How can a person so epistemically rational be so instrumentally irrational?"

By the way, how much of the tension between 'diversity of peopl... (read more)

I doubt that such a calculation is in any way conscious, but behind the scenes, something like that is probably happening. Truth detectors for "socially advantageous" are probably stronger than those for "predictively accurate".

I offered my standard example. Imagine that a university department has an opening and is down to two or three well qualified candidates. They learn that one of them is an articulate supporter of South African Apartheid. Does the chance of hiring him go up or down? If the university is actually committed to intellectual diversity, the chance should go up—it is, after all, a position that neither faculty nor students are likely to have been exposed to. In fact, in any university I am familiar with, it would go sharply down.

I would argue that this is a go... (read more)

For a thousand years and more, you could say that about the existence of God.

If that's the only question these heuristics and arguments get wrong, I'd say that's pretty darn effective heuristics and perhaps I should base everything I believe on what they say.

I don't think that's an honest response. Are you really incapable of identifying other questions that thees heuristics and arguments get wrong? Really, that's the only one you can think of that fits the pattern?
Can you name other questions that this heuristic got wrong for thousands of years? In other words, are we arguing about the process of finding truth, or the final results? "Believe what the experts believe" is a terrible process for society to implement in trying to discover what is truth, but it works pretty well for individuals at particular moments in time.
You chose to name only one example. 'Experts say so' is a fantastic heuristic, which definitely increases the probability of being true. I sincerely doubt you can name enough examples to drive the likelihood ratio down to 1, much less to <1.
That depends on the field in question. There are a lot of fields full of "experts" whose predictions are notoriously unreliable.
As opposed to the laymen in those fields?
In some cases actually yes. At best listening to the "experts" will give you a false sense of certainty, at worst the "experts" really are being worse than random. At least the laymen may have local knowledge "experts" lack. Edit: Also it depends on the layman, as you yourself observed here [http://lesswrong.com/lw/h56/the_universal_medical_journal_article_error/8q24].

In some cases actually yes. [laymen will have more accurate beliefs than experts]

In some cases, maybe, but you have not named names so I remain skeptical, and in some of the cases I would expect you or people like you to produce, I would still disagree.

I will give a specific example which I hope establishes the general form of my argument on this topic (that however warped or incorrect one believes the expert or academic consensus or elites to be, that the general layman beliefs in the general population are even more outdated, partial, warped, or ill-informed; the average person is... well, average, and one would think things like Snopes.com would caution against too high a belief in the accuracy of hoi polloi's beliefs), and if I'm lucky it'll both be a convincing demonstration and also one of the examples you would have picked if pressed for specifics.

Take IQ; my impression is that you would cheerfully cite IQ-related topics as a great example of how the experts are systematically worse than random, but my own impression is actually the opposite: laymen are more likely to get IQ completely wrong by claiming it is meaningless or arbitrary or irrelevant or less important than... (read more)

An example of the nearly universal belief in the general public, from the GSS: http://humanvarieties.org/?attachment_id=1691 [http://humanvarieties.org/?attachment_id=1691]
Shouldn't his arguments screen off his authority? Isn't that the whole point of arguments?

The response was that that he considered himself very open minded, getting along with people across the political spectrum, but that that position was so obviously beyond the bounds of reasonable discourse

Unfortunately, Freidman picked apartheid. He could just as well have picked Citizens United, the 2nd amendment, opposition to racial quotas, and the desire to enforce immigration laws. My guess is that these would equally be held to be "beyond the bounds or reasonable discourse".

Years ago, I dated a woman in a graduate english department wh... (read more)

Racial quotas are unconstitutional by a 2003 Supreme Court decision. That decision matches legal opinion. I don't think you'll find a hard time finding academics who support conservative interpretations of the 2nd amendment. I also don't think you'll have trouble finding academics who support Citizens United. I think you'll have relatively more trouble finding people who want to enforce immigration laws, since very few people want to. I'm assuming you're only talking about English departments?
They certainly exist, but it's certainly the kind of thing that would be held against an applicant. It's hard to show what caused hiring decisions, but here are two [http://collegeinsurrection.com/2012/12/western-civilization-driven-off-campus-at-hamilton-college/] examples [http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/344684/whats-matter-vassar-stanley-kurtz] that I happened to come across today of just how welcome right-of-center ideas can be on college campuses.
I'm not talking about rare, exceptional cases for those examples. In many areas, right-wing ideas are overrepresented, e.g. libertarians in economics. But I think that has more to do with how relatively interested libertarians are in economics. I've also stated somewhere else in this comment section that there are examples of unwarranted exclusion of non-left views by academic leftists. (I'm a huge Orwell nut, by the way.) If this is a huge problem, I want to see it in terms of base rates, not particular examples. I will also add that I do count being right-wing against a source. Right or wrong, I live in Tennessee and I'm surrounded by a majority of evangelical, Christian Republicans who fill the local opinion pages with letters about how they're never represented by the press. I've heard these people cry "persecution" too often for it to have much effect. Again, this might best be considered damage that ought to be repaired, but you should at least know that it is there. From the National Review post [http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/344684/whats-matter-vassar-stanley-kurtz]: I would like the author to name someone, anyone, who says all that. Perfectly believable. The first part is bad. The second part is not. Actual break-in or not, this is not what a campus climate denialist can reasonably expect to happen to him or her. Was bringing Epstein free? I have other reasons, if you like. I protested with Occupy. If you need some of the important differences between an Occupy protestor and a "libertarian defender of American industry" explained, I will be happy to do so. My overall reaction to this most appalling thing ever is a "meh," with a few ideas about how things might have been better. If this is about the worst we're dealing with, I think we're OK. On the College Insurrection article [http://collegeinsurrection.com/2012/12/western-civilization-driven-off-campus-at-hamilton-college/]: The title: Western Civilization driven off campus at Hamilton Co
Is still feels strange to me that people who participate in terrorist groups, rob banks, etc. are welcome at universities; while people who suggest that maybe women have less mathematical geniuses than men are unwelcome. Just to make sure, is it important whether the terrorism is left-wing or right-wing? Would that university be OK to hire Anders Breivik for writing lessons? I mean, he did some crazy stuff, but none of that is related to writing skills.
First, the bar for "guest speaker" is lower than for "tenured faculty." Yes, importance comes in degrees. Second, I will admit to flippancy, though not on the order of suggesting an equivalence with Breivik. My comment was getting too long as it was, and I sacrificed seriousness for concision and out of impatience. Mea culpa. Regardless of leftist or rightist motives, Rosenberg was a dangerous criminal and deserved to spend time in jail, though I think her sentence was too harsh. People who suggest that there are fewer mathematical geniuses amongst women than men don't go to prison, and in fact, I doubt that many would disagree with that statement. That was a specific example of gender differences in intelligence given in my high school psychology textbook. They're quite welcome, actually. More controversial is the proposition that this is a result of an essential gender difference, but people on both sides of that question are (typically) quite welcome. I know some exceptions here, but correct me if I'm mistaken in the typical case. Let's return to what I've been saying all along: I have a problem with privileging bad ideas, but bad ideas are not to be automatically criminal. Yet there should be a cost associated with espousing those non-criminal bad ideas. Rosenberg's ideas were very seriously criminal: she faced a very serious cost. The cost of her past deeds in evaluating whether to invite her as a guest speaker has been reduced - though it still exists. (Tangent: If holocaust denialism were to be banned here as it has been in France and Austria, I would be encouraging universities to fill Irving's schedule.) Returning to the context, I took Paquette's list of "look who they'll invite!" as insinuating that there are no standards when it comes to the left, while implying that center-right ideas are verboten. That remains false.
Ok, what about Kathy Boudin [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathy_Boudin] or Bill Ayers [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Ayers]? The question is who determine which ideas are bad.
A high burden of proof for both. The answer is that about everybody makes this determination whether you want them to or not.
Specifically, my question was "who determines which ideas are officially considered 'bad' for purposes of not being institutionally privileged?"
All of us, to some extent, though publishers, administrators, corporate boards, managers, faculty, and editors have much more say. Is there some interesting followup to the obvious here?
Is there any evidence that these gatekeepers are particularly good at making this judgement?
The evidence for their being better at this than laymen is at best mixed. Editors and media are bad at sufficiently filtering things like climate change denial and creationism, while faculty and administrators are better. I would argue that everyone on that list is likely to have a "neutrality bias", by which I mean they are often more concerned with appearing "objective" or "centrist" than they are with saying true things. Both the left and right operate large "flak industries" to try to shift what counts as "objective" in one direction or the other. They became better with racism, but only with the help of popular movements. Legislation made them better about persons with disabilities. We're seeing similar shifts right now concerning sexism and homophobia. It would be difficult to get an very accurate picture of where such elites do well and badly. The metric would have to involve a specification of what counts as "correct" or "popular" morality, as well as the epistemic merit of a huge variety of politically-charged positions. If you want to get past simple outcome-based statements concerning a specific position, it's a hard problem. Do they do well enough to maintain a diverse, intellectually stimulating environment? Media editors? No. Corporate boards and managers? Sometimes, but very often no. Publishers? A mix. University administrators and faculty? Mostly yes. Are they "getting it right" when they select against racialists and Stalinists? Yes.
What standard are you using to judge whether they're correct or not? I disagree with most of your answers. I'm guessing that if I pressed you enough, you'd wind up answering "the gate keepers (especially the ones at universities) are more-or-less doing a good job, I know this because they told me so".
I pause to add to a different comment of mine from elsewhere in this thread, where I stated that right-wing libertarians are over-represented. I happen to think that this is a good thing, even if I think that right-wing libertarian ideology is wrong, and if consistently implemented, morally awful. At the university level, at least, they tend to be much more interesting to talk to than people who agree with me. They also provide an excellent service: if you want to know what's wrong with particular government policies you've never heard of, libertarians will happily assist you.
This may be true in economic departments, this is most definitely not true in universities in general.
Several. Here's an example: do they tend to promote true ideas over false ones, even on politicized topics? Yes. It makes a lot of movement conservatives and radical environmentalists angry, but they do. This is anecdotal, but I have an easier time finding people willing to listen to my unpopular ideas amongst students and faculty than I do with my neighbors. And you'd be guessing incorrectly. See the previous response. I suppose you're working on the response to a previous comment of mine wherein I asked you to describe what you think the political atmosphere at universities to be like. I will also refer back to my first comment, wherein I asked whether or not intellectual diversity has been improving or not - I think it has been.
This is what is known as circular reasoning.

Out of curiosity, How much support for Apartheid does the Articulate supporter of Apartheid have to show?

For instance, when Margaret Thatcher died recently, I found out that she considered by some to be a supporter of Apartheid and I remembered that I had just read this David Friedman point recently.

If I am reading the wikipedia link correctly, it contains a fair portrayal of Margaret Thatcher's Apartheid Policies that doesn't summarize well.


However, if I were to attempt to summarize it... (read more)


Not sure what to say about the post, but just as a random association, one of Moldbug's posts has a funny argument that mixing decreases diversity:

There's a fun experiment in diversity that you can try in your own home. All you need is a blender, a spoon, and about $30. Take the $30, go to Safeway, and buy four or five pints of ice cream, preferably ultra-premium (Ben & Jerry's works well), of all different flavors. Chocolate, strawberry, Cherry Garcia, Funky Monkey, and so on. Using the spoon, scoop some ice cream from each of the pints into the ble

... (read more)
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