Liberal professor wants affirmative action for ... conservatives

Professor Jonathan Haidt is concerned that lack of conservatives in social psychology is an indication of liberal groupthink shutting out valuable perspectives ...

Jonathan Haidt, Post-Partisan Social Psychology
I am not concerned about the underrepresentation of conservatives in social psychology, just as I am not concerned about the underrepresentation of women or minorities in any occupation. As I said in my talk, "there are many reasons why conservatives would be underrepresented in social psychology, and most of them have nothing to do with discrimination or hostile climate." I am concerned about two things: First: Discrimination. If conservatives, women, or minority group members are being discriminated against, it is wrong and it should stop. And that includes the creation of hostile climates, which discourage students from entering fields in the first place. Second, I'm concerned about the absence of valuable perspectives from occupations that need multiple perspectives. When a group with a unique perspective drops below, say 5%, the majority group may begin to openly espouse its sacred values, create a moral forcefield, and then actively discriminate against the minority group, which now shrinks even further or retreats to the closet. This is what (I claim) has happened in social psychology (and in many academic fields). Most groups and institutions don't need moral diversity. Diversity disrupts group cohesion and effectiveness. But in science, our goal is not cohesion, it is finding the truth, and if moral diversity will help us to disrupt the forcefield and shut down groupthink, then it will help us to do better science. This is why I called for affirmative action for conservatives in social psychology.
Now, you've probably already guessed what happens next. Another professor accuses Haidt of professional misconduct:
I suspect that Haidt is either an incompetent psychologist (not likely) or is disingenuously saying the sort of things controversial enough to get him in the New York Times (more likely).
Haidt’s Final Response to Pigliucci
I have greatly enjoyed our debate. You assert that I “got upset” by your initial post, and you refer to my “outrage” at your accusations. But in fact I was delighted by them. I am an intuitionist. I am building an extended argument that reasoning, when not informed by broad understanding and cultivated intuitions, is an unreliable tool for finding truth. There is mounting evidence in psychology that the evolved function of reasoning is not discovery but social justification and manipulation. We humans use reasoning skillfully to find arguments in support of our intuitively held positions, but we are hobbled by the confirmation bias; we are unable to find evidence or arguments that contradict our favored positions. I believe this is the most serious defect in the writings of the “new atheists” and many other self-proclaimed rationalists: because they are so good at finding reasons to support their views about science and religion, they develop an extraordinary confidence that they are right, which makes them prone to arrogant dismissals of all who disagree with them.

When I issued my challenge to you, I knew that I would soon obtain either an apology or a classroom-worthy demonstration of rationalism in action.
For a presentation of Haidt's talk, see here.

File under: science in search of truth? ... what a novel idea.

No comments:

Post a Comment