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Friday, April 02, 2010

Interesting post on diversity training from one of my recent favorites, Robin Hanson. But this referenced quotation really caught my eye:

"in a setting as dynamic and stubbornly multivariate as the workplace, it’s all but impossible to come up with the clear, falsifiable evidence social science demands"


First, one wishes that this caution about "dynamic and multivariate" might be more frequently applied to policy-driven science. Secondly, in my experience, "social science" only occasionally demands clear falsifiable evidence. At least as currently practiced.

Robin goes on to suggest that diversity programs are a waste of money (due to not achieving their ends) and constitute expensive and useless signaling by elites. If a politician said that, it would constitute a "gaffe".

I hasten to add that I think it is worth breaking down the self-selecting homogeneity of certain professions. But the "diversity training" I've seen seem to make more noise than light.

8 Comments:

By Anonymous Locker Room, at Fri Apr 02, 05:36:00 PM:

When my ears hear someone endorse "breaking down" the self-selecting homogeneity of some particular group of people my thoughts are "Why does that person presume he knows what is better for others than what they choose for themselves? Would he welcome someone taking it upon himself to pass judgment on, and "break down", any of his voluntary associations that may happen to demonstrate homogeneity?"  

By Blogger "Mindles H. Dreck", at Fri Apr 02, 06:30:00 PM:

I'm in the investment management business, which does not exhibit diversity. It's hard to be successful in my business if you aren't examining sources of bias and adjusting accordingly. Humans tend to believe good looking people who "interview well" and make them feel good about themselves. If you don't look hard for this effect, you'll be a complete sucker for the first high-powered institutional salesperson coming your way. ANd once you recognize it, you see it would be good to dismantle.

Thus a more effective workplace, in my line of work, probably looks more diverse.

What I don't endorse is suspending meritocracy for appearances' sake.  

By Blogger randian, at Fri Apr 02, 08:03:00 PM:

It's hard to be successful in my business if you aren't examining sources of bias and adjusting accordingly. Humans tend to believe good looking people who "interview well" and make them feel good about themselves.

Does that mean if you aren't good looking and slick failure is assured in your business?  

By Blogger "Mindles H. Dreck", at Fri Apr 02, 08:22:00 PM:

Socrates is a man, all men are mortal, therefore all men are socrates?  

By Blogger Assistant Village Idiot, at Fri Apr 02, 09:44:00 PM:

Diversity training is not only a signaling issue, it is also a liability avoidance issue. When people screw up, bureaucracies like to be able to point to programs that prove "well we told them."  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Apr 03, 07:08:00 AM:

From an e-flyer begging me to attend a diversity conference at a local school:

"In creating such environments, our collective goal is to utilize our campus diversity in creating opportunities in and out of the classroom for learning across differences, building inclusive work and learning environments, and preparing our students and each other for leadership in a highly complex and diverse world."

The keynote speaker is from an education department. I wrote back to suggest that drivel in an ad suggests drivel in the content of the conference.  

By Blogger "Mindles H. Dreck", at Sat Apr 03, 03:11:00 PM:

Good for you. That's a language crime. You should really never use "utilize". It's real meaning is "bullshit ahead".  

By Blogger Assistant Village Idiot, at Sat Apr 03, 05:42:00 PM:

They may encounter some trouble at the complex part.  

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