David Friedman has some thoughts on diversity:

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.

What’s most interesting about this is that if you’re looking for real intellectual diversity, you have to seek out opponents of “diversity.” It’s the supporters of diversity that demand uniformity of thought.

Friedman’s post pairs nicely with this gem from Yglesias. Yglesias is trying to explain away the fact that writers at Slate are less politically diverse than voters in rigged elections in authoritarian countries.

Fear not, gentle reader. There is much diversity nonetheless:

Is Obama’s manufacturing boosterism is a good idea? I say no. Do municipalities over-regulate food trucks? I say yes. Would single-payer health care lead to catastrophically low incomes for American doctors? I say no. Should we try to reduce the level of online copyright infringement to zero? I say no. Do we need more expansionary monetary policy? I say yes.

I’m willing to wager that the opinions on these topics are as skewed as those on Presidential politics. Nevertheless, such is the best defense of diversity of thought in The Cathedral.


8 Responses to Diversity

  1. Matt says:

    What’s most interesting about this is that if you’re looking for real intellectual diversity, you have to seek out opponents of “diversity.”

    That’s true in one sense, that opposition to diversity is in itself a nonentity in most academic environments. But the right has its own version of PC and it is every bit as stringently enforced as the left’s.

    Friedman’s example is good enough, but I’m left with a “so what” reaction. The left is in charge in the universities and they aren’t going to hire any Apartheid defenders. I think they’ll be quite frank about it if asked. Why wouldn’t they? What is anyone threatening them with?

    • survivingbabel says:

      The “so what” is the facts on the ground: the end of Apartheid has been an unmitigated disaster for South Africans of every race and color. Those who supported Apartheid while it existed predicted this outcome, and they were shown to be correct.

      Academic gatekeepers make their hiring decisions based on what is “beyond the bounds of reasonable discourse” (i.e. what makes the academic uncomfortable.) They demonstrate, time and time again, that they prefer theoretical “fairness” to actual efficacy. This may have been forgivable in 1983, but the results are in: the academics are wrongity-wrong-wrong-wrong, and they can only continue in their wrongness by surrounding themselves with more of it.

      The generation coming of age now sees through it. They’re waiting for an alternate explanation. We have one, and we only need to drive a wedge between them and the academic gatekeepers. “Diversity of thought” may be the best wedge we have.

      • Matt says:

        You’re more optimistic than I. Friedman is the first non-flaming-rightist I’ve ever seen to even say that Apartheid was defensible. Apartheid is actually a relatively tough sell, since SA is not in the news as an obvious hellhole of some kind. Go on a college campus and ask them if Zimbabwe was better off under white rule. How many would say yes? How many of those that say yes would follow with a quick qualification that this means Mugabe is incompetent and says nothing in particular about white rule, which was horrible and racist?

  2. Red says:

    The right has it own version of PC? I’m must be blinded by my reactionary steampunk goggles as I can’t see it.

    • Carl says:

      The right’s version of PC is called PC. It’s exactly the same thing, with some minor exceptions that are inconsequential. Have you ever read or heard anything from the mainstream right even mildly favorable about apartheid?

  3. VXXC says:

    Yes people see through it. But the Left has power – which came to them from Men of the New Deal. These creatures are not…Men. Wait on old maids…a miracle will occur and the Reactionary shall inherit the earth and RULE IT AS MASTERS.


    The Future belongs to those who seize it. Worry not…the Future is not in the Hands of Vlad Darth Yglesias Maul of the Plate Glass Sith. Seriously. Really? They’re the brats who are squandering their Inheritance [The New Deal]. What follows will be Men.

    And not necessarily an improvement. But at least you’ll be able to say to your posterity they were stronger. Whoever it is..

  4. Federico says:

    Matthew Yglesias is quite so insincere that he might be considered sincere. He pretends no sincerity, electing not to insult the intelligence of his wise readers; nor does he bear himself as if he were a statesman.

    Matthew’s eminently gelatinous persona compares well to the Fisher-Price-Man pomposity of Tyler Cowen or J. Bradford deLong.

    In his later years, Matthew shall make a wonderful prophet of Victorian liberalism to the masses.

    Is 20 years of foreign policy quietism too much? I say no. Is Ruskin’s arts and crafts movement a good idea? I say yes. Would abolition of legacy state healthcare lead to catastrophically low incomes for American doctors? I say no. Should we try to increase legal exit rights within America? I say yes. Does the state need a monetary policy? I say no.

  5. That’s a bold stand he’s taken with the food trucks.

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