Diversity vs. Reality

Our e-pal ‘hbd* chick’ (a scholar of human reproductive patterns and variation whose outstanding blog should be on your regular reading list, if it isn’t already) posted an excellent item yesterday on the increasing difficulties confronting adherents of the ideological cult of Diversity in the face of damning and discrediting evidence. (At this point the more intellectually honest of them — if that isn’t already too much of a contradiction in terms — must be beginning to feel, as Tom Lehrer once remarked, “like a Christian Scientist with appendicitis”.)

h. begins by calling our attention to an article in The Atlantic — which is hardly a reactionary organ — entitled The Paradox of Diverse Communities. The title is misleading, as there is no “paradox” anywhere in view: just a dawning realization that diversity is antagonistic to social cohesion. (This obvious truth used to be just simple common sense, always and everywhere — until our civilization lost its mind, and its sense of natural order, in the latter half of the twentieth century.)

The article discusses a new study, by a pair of Michigan State researchers, that uses a computer model to investigate what’s called “community psychology”:

Their simulations of more than 20 million virtual “neighborhoods” demonstrate a troubling paradox: that community and diversity may be fundamentally incompatible goals.

Again, this is nothing even resembling a paradox. The only way anyone could possibly see the incompatibility of community and diversity as a paradox would be to imagine “community” and “diversity” to be in some sense identical, as if at some soteriological Omega Point of infinite Social Justice they merge to become undifferentiated aspects of the ultimate Good. (Which is, I suspect, exactly what people who write this sort of thing do imagine.)

But it turns out there’s trouble in Paradise:

Their models focus on the emergence of the “community-diversity dialectic” based on two simple principles: homophily – the tendency of people to bond with others like themselves – and proximity – the tendency of people to bond with those nearby.

…After 20 million-plus simulations, the authors found that the same basic answer kept coming back: The more diverse or integrated a neighborhood is, the less socially cohesive it becomes, while the more homogenous or segregated it is, the more socially cohesive.

Well, this may be news to The Atlantic, but I do seem to recall seeing it on the cover of Duh magazine a few years back.

Reading on:

These findings are sobering. Because homophily and proximity are so ingrained in the way humans interact, the models demonstrated that it was impossible to simultaneously foster diversity and cohesion “in all reasonably likely worlds.” In fact, the trends are so strong that no effective social policy could combat them, according to Neal. As he put it in a statement, “In essence, when it comes to neighborhood desegregation and social cohesion, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

Sobering? One can only hope.

…the trends are so strong that no effective social policy could combat them.

I don’t doubt that for a minute. May I suggest that we stop trying?

Anyway, enough from me. Get thee hence and read hbd’s post, here.


  1. Kevin Kim says

    It was a good post. Here’s the comment I left there:

    Very interesting, but I do have to wonder what the practical implications are. That we should all retreat to our separate ethnic corners and balkanize? I for one like the social-navigation advantages that result from being exposed to different cultures and ethnicities, despite the high potential for a clash of tastes and values. I feel wiser and more enriched for knowing about different cultures, and think it would be a sad and empty place, indeed, were we all to separate from each other and move through space and time along parallel tracks, like passengers forever in side-by-side trains.

    Let me be clear: I’m not disputing the results of these studies, nor am I disputing the correlation between greater diversity and a weaker sense of community. I’m just pondering the future implications for those of us who are already in the mix, so to speak. Should there be a Great Un-mixing? You in your gated community, me in mine?

    Posted November 23, 2013 at 3:06 am | Permalink
  2. Scharlach says

    @Kevin Kim

    Where do you live, if you don’t mind my asking? I’m from Los Angeles, so when people tell me how much they love their diverse city, I usually can’t help thinking they live in Vermont.

    But I think it’s important to keep in mind that they’re talking about neighborhoods, not nation states or even states or even counties. Diversity is fine as long as it’s separated locally. In other words, separate but equal is indeed equal. The affluent Asian enclaves in L.A. County are a perfect example of this.

    Posted November 23, 2013 at 6:07 pm | Permalink
  3. Malcolm says

    Hi Scharlach – I’ve just been reading your exchange with Scott Alexander (I’ve yet to go through the entire anti-reactionary FAQ, which I’ve only just found).

    A very worthwhile discussion — and it’s good, as you say, to have such a cogent critic of the D.E. as Mr. Alexander appears to be.

    Posted November 23, 2013 at 9:00 pm | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says


    When social cohesion falls far enough, a spark of the right sort can trigger some very unpleasant ‘Un-mixings’. It’s like superheated water in the microwave: a disturbance can cause it to boil all at once, explosively. Historical examples are not rare.

    Some peaceful disaggregation, especially in those places where diversity has increased very rapidly, assimilation is particularly poor, and the cultural gradient especially steep, would be a great blessing, I think. For example, if northern Europe were to try to provide incentives for its Muslim population to repatriate themselves to Muslim nations, and such a program actually worked, I have no doubt that social cohesion would be restored, and the indigenous populations would be happier, in proportion to its success.

    This is hardly likely to happen. You’ll be terribly hard put to find, anytime soon, a nation anywhere in the West where immiscible populations “separate from each other and move through space and time along parallel tracks, like passengers forever in side-by-side trains.”

    So, then, what are the “practical implications” of this gradual awakening? (Not that there’s any reason to think there’s really much “awakening” underway here, but to see an article like this in The Atlantic is not nothing.)

    This, perhaps: a great deal of public, corporate, and educational policy is built on precisely those happy, and utterly false, assumptions about diversity that are upended by this sort of research. It is far too much to hope that we might easily reverse what’s already happened, demographically, to the West as a result of decades of this foolishness — but if we can discredit the hallucinatory idea at the root of all this folly, we might at least be able to stop making things worse. We might, for example, begin to examine our immigration policies in the light of day, rather than by the rosy glow of the Utopian campfire.

    In his book We Are Doomed, John Derbyshire refers to this ideological fata morgana as The Diversity Theorem, and expresses it thus:

    Different populations, of different races, customs, religions, and preferences, can be mixed together in any numbers or proportions at all, with harmonious result. Not only will the result be harmonious, it will be beneficial to all the people thus mixed. They will be better and happier than if they had been left to stagnate in dull homogeneity.

    He adds:

    A corollary to the Diversity Theorem states that if the experiment were to be carried out on a nation — a territory under independent self-government — then the nation would be made stronger and better by an increase in diversity, so long as the system was controlled by properly approved and trained Diversity managers. It would be more peaceful, more prosperous, better educated, more cultivated, better able to defend itself against its enemies. Diversity is our strength!

    To break this spell would be a “practical implication” worth celebrating.

    Posted November 23, 2013 at 9:28 pm | Permalink
  5. Kevin Kim says


    HBD Chick, in her spirited (if somewhat contradictory) responses to me, seems to arguing along the same lines re: social policy, i.e., provide incentives for disaggregation (self-deportation, as she puts it), remove medical and other benefits for illegal aliens, etc. One example she gives, in terms of self-deportation, is that we pay immigrants (I’m unclear on whether she’s talking only about recent illegal immigrants or about all immigrants, legal and illegal) to go back home, since what brought them to our shores is, in large part, an economic motive.

    But how workable is that? And what would the posters for such a campaign look like? Paying off illegals will only motivate more to attempt our borders because of the easy money: Hey, no need to work in America! They pay you just for hopping the fence! Imagine using something like that appeasement strategy as a teacher in a room full of misbehaving students. Giving candy to bad students doesn’t make them quieter: it makes them more demanding.


    I live in the oh-so-diverse South Korea, where I symbolize diversity. Heh. Just moved back here after a few years away; this will be my ninth year here. Definitely not Vermont.

    Posted November 24, 2013 at 7:07 am | Permalink
  6. Malcolm says

    Hi Kevin,

    I agree with you: I don’t think we ought to pay fence-hoppers to leave. For those here illegally, the incentive ought to be law enforcement, and scarce opportunities for prosperity.

    That’s quite a thread you and hbd created over there. I’ve added a comment of my own, which awaits moderation.

    Posted November 24, 2013 at 4:59 pm | Permalink
  7. “I’ve added a comment of my own, which awaits moderation.”

    Moderation by whom?

    Posted November 24, 2013 at 6:20 pm | Permalink
  8. Malcolm says

    By hbd* chick. It’s at her blog.

    Posted November 24, 2013 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

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