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November 19, 2013

Once Again, "Science" Conflicts with Liberal Public Policy

An interesting study concludes that diversity doesn't actually bring communities closer together. In fact, increasing diversity erodes civic trust and social harmony:

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. As they write, “The model suggests that when people form relationships with similar and nearby others, the contexts that offer opportunities to develop a respect for diversity are different from the contexts that foster a sense of community.”

The graph below, from the study, plots quite plainly the negative relationship between community cohesion and diversity.

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.”

But, of course, this is the result of computer simulations of reality, not reality itself.

That's a valid point, but this isn't the first study to conclude that increasing diversity doesn't make us more tolerant, trusting, or engaged. Numerous studies of real people have come to exactly the same conclusion:

I'm not sure public trust can long survive in a sprawling, multicultural environment where we're constantly being told there are no differences (or no differences that ought to concern us) between cultures or interest groups? Some studies suggest that increasing diversity erodes civic trust:
... the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings.

"The extent of the effect is shocking," says Scott Page, a University of Michigan political scientist.

The computer model in the first study came to the same conclusion as Putnam's real world survey of nearly 30,000 people of all races:

The results of his new study come from a survey Putnam directed among residents in 41 US communities, including Boston. Residents were sorted into the four principal categories used by the US Census: black, white, Hispanic, and Asian. They were asked how much they trusted their neighbors and those of each racial category, and questioned about a long list of civic attitudes and practices, including their views on local government, their involvement in community projects, and their friendships. What emerged in more diverse communities was a bleak picture of civic desolation, affecting everything from political engagement to the state of social ties.

... After releasing the initial results in 2001, Putnam says he spent time "kicking the tires really hard" to be sure the study had it right. Putnam realized, for instance, that more diverse communities tended to be larger, have greater income ranges, higher crime rates, and more mobility among their residents -- all factors that could depress social capital independent of any impact ethnic diversity might have.

"People would say, 'I bet you forgot about X,'" Putnam says of the string of suggestions from colleagues. "There were 20 or 30 X's."

But even after statistically taking them all into account, the connection remained strong: Higher diversity meant lower social capital. In his findings, Putnam writes that those in more diverse communities tend to "distrust their neighbors, regardless of the color of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television."

"People living in ethnically diverse settings appear to 'hunker down' -- that is, to pull in like a turtle," Putnam writes.

These two studies aren't the only ones to find a negative correlation between increasing diversity and civic trust and involvement, which is amusing given the liberal mantra about conservatives being anti-Science. There are scores of studies showing strong positive correlations between marriage, sacrifice, hard work, the ability to delay gratification, and pretty much every outcome liberal public policy claims to promote (happiness, household income, better health, better educational outcomes for children, lower delinquency) and yet for reasons passing human understanding, progressive public policies reward choices that make people less affluent and secure and demonize or even punish people who make choices that reliably maximize success, prosperity, and happiness. Shouldn't public policy aim to maximize the welfare of the polity instead of rewarding behavior that makes it harder to succeed? Maybe "success" isn't the real goal, after all:

The very word "achievement" has been replaced by the word "privilege" in many writings of our times. Individuals or groups that have achieved more than others are called "privileged" individuals or groups, who are to be resented rather than emulated.

The length to which this kind of thinking -- or lack of thinking -- can be carried was shown in a report on various ethnic groups in Toronto. It said that people of Japanese ancestry in that city were the most "privileged" group there, because they had the highest average income.

What made this claim of "privilege" grotesque was a history of anti-Japanese discrimination in Canada, climaxed by people of Japanese ancestry being interned during World War II longer than Japanese Americans.

If the concept of achievement threatens the prevailing ideology, the reality of achievement despite having obstacles to overcome is a deadly threat.

We know that the correlation between marriage and household income is extremely strong:

America's most prosperous households do one other thing differently from their poorer neighbors: they are, to an overwhelming degree, married:
One frequently overlooked dimension of the gap between the "rich" and the "poor" is how much it is affected by marital status.20 As Chart 10 shows, only about 30 percent of all persons in Census's bottom quintile live in married couple families; the rest either live in single-parent families or reside alone as single individuals. In the top quintile, the situation is reversed: Some 90 percent of persons live in married couple families. In this case, equalizing the numbers of persons within the quintiles makes little difference; even after each quintile is adjusted to contain the same number of persons, 85 percent of persons in the top quintile continue to live in married couple families compared with one-third in the bottom.

So why do progressive policies, from our highly progressive tax code to ObamaCare subsidies, actively discourage marriage and reward singlehood and single parenting?

Any married couple that earns more than 400 percent of the federal poverty level—that is $62,040—for a family of two earns too much for subsidies under Obamacare. "If you're over 400 percent of poverty, you're never eligible for premium" support, explains Gary Claxton, director of the Health Care Marketplace Project at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

But if that same couple lived together unmarried, they could earn up to $45,960 each—$91,920 total—and still be eligible for subsidies through the exchanges in New York state,

It's almost as though, having learned what choices most reliably maximize prosperity and stability, progressives are determined to discourage them.

Why, O why are progressives so anti-science? For what it's worth, I don't actually believe that progressives are anti-science any more than conservatives are anti-science. We humans just like to cherry pick studies that confirm our pre-existing beliefs and ignore the rest.

A few months ago, the Justice Department brought charges against Oklahoma oil company Continental Resources as well as six others in North Dakota for causing the death of 28 migratory birds in violation of the Bird Treaty Act. ...Continental was accused of killing one bird “the size of a sparrow” in its oil pits. “It’s not even a rare bird. There’re jillions of them,” Hamm said during an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

Yet in central California, 70 golden eagles were killed by wind turbines at Altamont Pass, without prosecution. The findings follow a 2008 study by the Fish and Wildlife Service that estimates wind farms kill nearly a half million birds per year in the United States.

Most scientists (and mathematicians) would tell us that half a million birds - every year! - or 70 endangered eagles killed by turbines have a greater impact on the environment than a single bird drowned (possibly) by Evil Fossil Fuels.

Ah, but that one tiny bird.... what an unsupportable loss!

Posted by Cassandra at November 19, 2013 07:36 PM

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How wonderful - that these studies should reveal what history has long recorded. It's resolved - nothing that is can be considered as being so until it has been determined as being so by experts. The very fact of the proliferation of studies - meant to appeal to otherwise undiscerning cherry pickers – further demonstrates their uselessness. Read a history book, connect the dots as best you can. Pay close attention to what your woman wants – not what women want. Speaking of which – is their anything creepier than the studiers of sex rummaging about in peoples genes?

Leave the studying to market researchers who make of what people fancy an Edsel.

Posted by: George Pal at November 20, 2013 09:37 AM

Don't forget the bats. Wind turbines have killed over 600,000 bats this past year as well. You want to talk about food chain economics? Think about the damage to our food supply when bats are not around to remove the insects that feed on crops.
But, hey, what's a few hundred thousand bats and birds when your prostrating yourself to the pagan god of Renewable Energy?

Posted by: DL Sly at November 20, 2013 02:54 PM

Bats??? Did someone say bats?

You've probably all seen pictures of these delinquent young bats on TV, hanging from the ceilings of deserted bullpens all over America. In their bleary ganga-reddened eyes and Cheeto-dusted little mouths, you can see the desperation of these once-proud denizens of the night.
You may have glimpsed the "gang-sign" they use to mark their territory - a territory that is rapidly vanishing due to the irresponsible human-centric platform and disastrous economic policies of the Bush administration. Without your help, future generations may have to go to a museum to see a MidWestern Corked bat.

But you can make a difference. For a small donation of $180 - just 50 cents a day - you can change the life of a young MidWestern Corked Bat. We'll even send you a picture of your sponsored Bat that you can post on your refrigerator to remind you of money well spent.

We don't all get to make a difference in this world. You've probably considered contributing before, but it's easy to make excuses like, 'I'm too busy', or "I'm just one Frenchman - there is no "we" - there is only "I". What is the point of even trying in an Existentialist universe without a Supreme Being? Where are my cigarettes?"

That's why I'm asking you to call today - 1-800-BAT-RSCU - Again, that's 1-800-BAT-RSCU.

You owe it to your children to preserve this fine specimen of nature's glory. Remember the BatsRUs slogan:

"A small donation today will help ensure that the Corked Bat will produce mildly hallucinogenic guano for generations to come."

Posted by: Endangered MidWestern Corked Bat at November 20, 2013 04:20 PM


Posted by: DL Sly at November 20, 2013 04:37 PM

The "Demo Bats" have been producing hallucinogenic guano for several years now, and their faithful followers eat it up.

Posted by: CAPT Mongo at November 21, 2013 09:59 AM