Sunday, October 30, 2005

Quantitating the Cult   posted by Razib @ 10/30/2005 03:24:00 PM

There are omnipresent nods to the "Cult of Diversity" in the mainstream culture. This is no longer a powerful faction, it is now an essential face of the State Cult as well as the Elite Cult. But what exactly is diversity??? How do you precisely describe it?

One way to do it is simply transpose into sociological discourse the usages of information theory common in ecology. For example, the index of species diversity:

In this case, s = number of species pi = proportion of total sample belonging to ith species.

The maximum diversity you can attain is obviously:

In other words, every individual within the population is of a different species.

The "evenness" or "equitability" of the population is given by:

The relevance to discussions of "diversity" is obviously that H' and J' are related, but they are not equivalent. In verbal terms, there are different ways one can attain a state of diversity. How relevant it is to your perception of aspects of public policy are dependent on your values and your goals. For example, in regards to immigration, the record of writings and opinions expressed on this weblog by me over the past 3 years suggest that I favor 1) a relatively non-diverse stream of immigrants in terms of educational qualifications (they should be above the population median), 2) but diverse in terms of national origin (so that group mobilization of non-natives is dampened). I also of course prefer that the stream is moderate enough that the rate of absorption is in equilibrium with the rate of immigration. Now, in everyday discourse "diversity" is clearly sometimes highly sensitive to the states of "s," that is, an Asian is not interchangeable with a Latino is not interchangeable with a black (see How Asians became White by Imbler Volokh). On the other hand not all dimensions have equal weighting. Who talks about the "diversity" that working class people of all races bring to a firm, as opposed to specific racial minorities (be they privileged by class or not)?

Those of us who dissent from the Cult of Diversity are at a sharp disadvantage at the current juncture. Nevertheless, the guerrilla strikes must continue until the day someone runs into the marketplace and declares that God is dead. At that point, we will be ready to offer an alternative, and more ancient, vision. But there will also be others, ready to offer a tried and true formula. Remember, the Cult is simply metastable.

Addendum: Let me be specific as to why I posted this, I really tire of the abstract, idealized and mysterious moving targets of "diversity." I recently read a Guardian piece about 49 Up. I've watched all the previous episodes of this series, and plan to watch this one in the near future, but the columnist states: "There is only one black participant and only four of the 12 are women." First, the participant is of mixed-race. Second, fact, the UK is 92% white in 2001. 1 out of 12 is about an 8% representation on the show, about right. But since the show selected its participants in the 1960s, one should more properly judge the representation by the proportions in those days. The overall point is that like the commonly accepted claims of Mystery Religions even the most superficially ludicrous contentions of the Cult of Diversity get a pass. This is because True Diversity is not something that exists in this world, it exists in the Other World, the Kingdom of Heaven. The numbers really don't matter from what I can tell because those who promote diversity most strenuously seem to see numbers as means, not ends (else why not more concern about the declining proportion of males receiving bachelor's degrees?). In the near future I'll offer what I think appropriate (acceptable) H' and J' values for the USofA are, with stipulations about the character of species diversity (so to speak).