Three Forms of Diversity

I’ve been thinking about the concept of “diversity” recently, and have written some thoughts on the subject, called Three Forms of Diversity. (The title is a play on Three Forms of Unity.)

The piece does include, at the end, a section on the specific applicability of my analysis to the Mozilla community.

Comments, as always, are most welcome. :-)

21 thoughts on “Three Forms of Diversity

  1. I think I disagree with how you define things, here.

    1) Empirical Diversity — This is fine. Actual, factually distinct elements within a community, such as race, religion, gender, politics, etc. It’s an externally measurable value of ‘apparent’ diversity.

    2) Cherished Diversity — This doesn’t appear to be a valid type of diversity at all. It’s more of a meta-descriptor about how people feel about diversity.

    3) Ideological Diversity – I would say that this isn’t diversity itself, but rather a manipulation of apparent diversity.

    I would personally define diversity as having two components:

    1) Factually distinct elements, as noted in Empirical Diversity.

    2) Friction. The degree to which the distinct elements can work together and not reduce ‘productivity’ (for however that is measured) while interacting.

    Described in mathematical form, if you have E as the number of distinct elements, and f as friction, ‘improving diversity’ would be increasing the ratio of (E/f), whether by increasing the number of accepted elements (E), or reducing the friction (f) between existing elements. Combine that with the population size (which is limited by E) for an overall measure of ‘productivity’. A push for higher E is partly predicated on the idea that it allows for a much higher population to draw from, such that even if the ratio is lower, the overall productivity has a much higher ceiling.

    What you describe as Cherished Diversity, I would describe as the opinion one has as to whether E/f can be improved while increasing E. Pro-diversity would say that E can grow faster than f, or that f can be maintained or lessened while increasing E. Anti-diversity would say that f must necessarily grow faster than E, and thus that increasing E is necessarily a losing proposition, and that the higher population pool to draw from is not sufficient to compensate for that.

    Such opinions might be limited to certain types of values for E, or means of changing either E or f, as you describe. Allowing for that, calling it pro-diversity or anti-diversity (as in the above paragraph) is somewhat misleading without being able to apply it to a specific methodology.

    For example, ‘patriotism’ is a method of reducing f by limiting E on one particular axis (country of origin), and is technically an anti-diversity approach, even though a patriotic person might also espouse various pro-diversity approaches as well. Almost all ideological constituent elements in E will prefer an anti-diversity approach along their own axis (eg: religion, politics, country, etc). A larger, pro-diversity approach must work against that natural inclination. (One can even use that inclination to define what counts as an element of E.)

    Overall, it’s just a general opinion on the best and most acceptable methods for increasing the E/f ratio, and covers far too many variables to be easily quantified as a whole.

    What you describe as Ideological Diversity instead seems to be a way of forcibly maintaining a static value for (f). It’s saying, “You’re not allowed to argue at all,” in order to give the illusion of a greater E/f ratio. It’s a fake argument to gain the effects of increased diversity the ‘easy’ way instead of the ‘hard’ way — the ‘easy’ way being to ignore any differences (or, from another perspective, by enforcing a single, overriding viewpoint), while the ‘hard’ way is to actually resolve, or at least accept, any differences.

    In other words, it’s a specific form of controlling E/f, just like the above patriotism example. Neither of them are diversity in and of themselves, but means of manipulating diversity for specific ends.

    • Hi David,

      I think you might be approaching this from slightly the wrong angle. I am not inventing new definitions of the word “diversity”, I am attempting to classify the ones I see. So when you say:

      “This doesn’t appear to be a valid type of diversity at all. It’s more of a meta-descriptor about how people feel about diversity.”

      I agree, but people do use the word “diversity” in this way. When they say “Diversity is one of our values”, they aren’t talking about the empirical fact that their community is diverse, they are using the word “diversity” in a different way. I label that usage “cherished diversity”. Do you dispute that people use the word diversity in this way? If not, do you think “cherished diversity” is the wrong label? Both of those would be arguable positions, but saying “this isn’t a form of diversity” is missing the point. I’m talking about the way people use words.

      • When they say “Diversity is one of our values”, they aren’t talking about the empirical fact that their community is diverse, they are using the word “diversity” in a different way. I label that usage “cherished diversity”.

        I don’t see how you can “use it in a different way” and have it at all be meaningful. If “diversity is one of our values”, but you’re not actually talking about diversity as previously defined, that what are you talking about? And you can’t say that it’s about adding ‘approval’ as a modifier to ‘diversity’, because ‘approval’ is contained in the modifier of ‘one of our values’; ‘diversity’ isn’t modified at all.

        Do you dispute that people use the word diversity in this way?

        I don’t dispute that the exact phrase you mentioned is used, and thus the word is used in that way. However I can’t see how you can consider that a ‘form’ of diversity separate from the empirical (or other concrete definition) form.

        You haven’t defined a new form of diversity, you’ve just used the already defined word in another sentence. Let me try another example to clarify what I’m seeing.

        Cherished diversity adds to observed diversity the element of approval.

        1) Basketball is a game played with a ball where you score points by getting the ball through a hoop. -> Definition.
        2) I like basketball. -> element of approval

        That doesn’t create a new ‘form’ of basketball. It just uses the same word in a different context.

        If not, do you think “cherished diversity” is the wrong label? Both of those would be arguable positions, but saying “this isn’t a form of diversity” is missing the point. I’m talking about the way people use words.

        But it isn’t a form of diversity. It’s just saying whether you approve of it or not. I would say that “cherished diversity” is certainly the wrong label, because what it’s describing isn’t a form of diversity.

        Perhaps, rather than considering them forms of diversity, you could consider them contexts within which diversity is discussed. In that case, you’d have strict definitional references, approval or disapproval of individual elements (or generic approval/disapproval of all elements as a whole), and means of maintaining or improving diversity (in which the mentioned Ideological method is only one such). That makes much more sense, and aligns easily with your separations.

  2. I wouldn’t necessarily call the things you mentioned different “forms” of diversity. It’s still the same diversity. The way I see it, those 3 “distinct” (for you) types are just the personal involvement increasing gradually from 1 to 3 (1: I acknowledge the concept of diversity, 2: I “agree” with diversity, 3: I live my life so that it nurtures diversity and I will be tolerant of other people’s beliefs about diversity).

    Diversity might also mean diversity of opinions, right? So, if you agree with 2, but disagree with 3, doesn’t that mean that you didn’t agree with 2 at all? How can you agree with the concept of diversity when you still think that one certain religion, cult, political view etc. is superior to others? If anything, it would undermine / diminish the whole belief in diversity, wouldn’t it.

    If I said “The concept of diversity is something to strive for”, but also said “Religion A is greater than Religion B”, that sounds like hypocrisy to me (“I think it’s great as a concept, but my personal beliefs don’t allow for diversity.”).

    I could also put it this way: You make it sound like your philosophical views (“I acknowledge diversity and think it’s good as a concept”) are separate from your religious views (“my ideology doesn’t allow for anything more than “acknowledging” diversity. I’m trapped with my religious views, thus I can’t step up to (3)”). If that’s really how it is, I am not sure if I should pity you or feel angry that you feel this way.

    Gerv, normal people (I don’t include you or people who were forced to be a member of a certain faith in that) choose their religion based on their beliefs. And if there’s a clash of different ideals (philosophical vs. religious), it would seem that there’s a problem that needs to be resolved. Ideally (in my opinion at least), 2 and 3 go hand in hand.

    And, to be honest, I had quite a deja vu experience reading this post. Seems we talked about diversity not too long ago. You’re wrong when you think people exclude you based on the beliefs you hold. How can anyone ever possibly know that you secretly didn’t step up to stage 3 and are still stuck at stage 2? No one would possibly notice that. If you feel bad because you think more tolerant people are excluding you, that’s your problem, they’re your feelings, after all.

    Is this about you wanting to feel accepted because of your religion? It certainly feels like that (again *rolling eyes*).

    • I wouldn’t necessarily call the things you mentioned different “forms” of diversity.

      Let’s not get hung up on that; the title was a play on words. Think of them as “aspects” of diversity if it helps.

      How can you agree with the concept of diversity when you still think that one certain religion, cult, political view etc. is superior to others?

      As noted in the piece, it doesn’t make sense to talk about someone’s view of “diversity” as a whole – distinctions must be made. That was one of my key points. But given that you’ve spent your entire post analysing my views on “diversity” as a single concept, it seems like you missed it. :-(

      So, to answer your question, it depends what type of diversity you are talking about. I think racial diversity is a great thing; single-race churches in areas with many races living there make me sad. I think religious diversity is a sad thing, as I think everyone would be better off worshipping the Lord Jesus, as they were created to do. However, that doesn’t mean I feel superior to people of other faiths or look down on them, as I know that it’s not because I’m some sort of special, wonderful person that I’m able to see the truth – it was a gift of God.

      • I’m sorry if I am over-analyzing your posts. I have had some bad experiences with some of your statements about different religions (and expect your views to be polarizing), so that might be the reason for my behaviour. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

        However: Isn’t saying “I see / know the truth” (or rather: “Only people who belong to the Christian faith know / see the truth”) condescending to other religions in itself?

        The concept of truth is an interesting one. You make it sound like there’s only one truth and everything else is false. That’s a typical example of black-and-white thinking and can normally be found in those with Borderline Personality Disorder.

        • However: Isn’t saying “I see / know the truth” (or rather: “Only people who belong to the Christian faith know / see the truth”) condescending to other religions in itself?

          No.

          You make it sound like there’s only one truth and everything else is false.

          So the idea that “there is only one truth” is totally, 100%, guaranteed, definitely wrong, is it?

          • Gerv,

            *sigh*
            I’m not saying that the idea that there’s only one truth is definitely wrong. But I’m also not saying that the concept of only one truth is definitely right either.

            How do you know that it’s the truth? Would you be able to tell? Do you have conclusive evidence that it’s really the truth and not something masquerading as the truth?

            Since you know that you have “the truth”, why don’t you define that for me? You should certainly know what that truth is and how you got to that conclusion, right?

            Also: Since only people from the Christian faith have the truth, that means that the approach of other religions can only be false, right? Even though there might be some overlap in their methods, their ways and their philosophies. Right?

            What I am saying is: Us, feeble human beings and incomplete in so many ways (and even intellectually impeded; we don’t understand EVERYTHING after all) don’t have the means to find out whether something is the truth.

            If you say, you have the truth that means you’re on one stage with your hypothetical god (what do you need god for, you have the truth already, don’t you?). Plus, by saying that, you’re putting yourself above other people (wait, actually, never mind, you ignore that anyway).

            I could write a book myself that says “Only people who eat peanut butter sandwiches every day have the truth and use that to persuade other people to follow me and also threaten them by saying that I will kill them if they don’t to push my “religion” further, or make them follow me by other means. That would be no different from your feeble religion.

            Because I’m sure you cannot give me conclusive evidence that what you have is the truth (neither you who has been a faithful servant of your church for such a long time nor your priests or someone else can give that), I suggest that you finally shut up and stop feeling superior to other people’s religions.

            Might make the rest of your life easier. Believe what you want to believe, just be kind enough to not spread your ill-advised opinions everywhere).

            If you want to feel superior because you’re afraid, fine, do that. I don’t give a shit about what you think about me, or other people for that matter. For all I know, I am already nailed to some wooden voodoo cross at your home. :D

            I have my own little truth that I guard very carefully. But it makes me angry that you are so intellectual but don’t even have the guts to leave your intellectual snail shell once in a while.

            • How do you know that it’s the truth? Would you be able to tell? Do you have conclusive evidence that it’s really the truth and not something masquerading as the truth?

              Famously, Pontius Pilate asked the very same question:

              ‘You are a king, then!’ said Pilate.

              Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.’

              ‘What is truth?’ retorted Pilate. (John 18:37-38)

              I entirely agree that if a bunch of humans get in a room, they can argue all day long about the truth about God, and no-one can say who’s wrong or who’s right… UNLESS God actually comes and reveals himself to us, so we can know what he is like. And that’s exactly what Jesus says: “the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth.” And he died and rose from the dead to validate that claim.

              • Except that no one can actually prove that Jesus was who Christians believe he was. He might have been a bright young man, smart enough to provide moral guidance. But since there’s no proof that a god existed at that time, the person we call “Jesus” might not have been a son of god at all.

                So, “Someone claiming to be the son of god and people following him” does not count as conclusive evidence to me.

                I could do the same thing Jesus did, right? Try to move as many people as he did…even though it might not work today because knowledge has increased in people and for many things that were claimed to be wonders at that time, an explanation was found by the sciences.

                So, your “proof” does not count as a proof to me at all! Try harder next time?

  3. That’s the most frustrating part about having a conversation with you. When there’s something that can be touchy about your religion, something you don’t know or don’t want to admit that you don’t know: -> silence.

    Be a man, for Christ’s sake (pun intended). Not having the balls to stand some criticism of what’s holy to you?

    You are so proud to proclaim how proud you are to be a Christian, and want everyone to join the Christian church, yet when it comes to logical fallacies within the things Christians believe, you simply ignore them and ignore people who point them out. That’s a somewhat totalitarian personality trait.

    And I bet you’ll keep telling people about Christianity in the most colourful words at the next possible occasion (and of course ignore this post as well; but at least other people read it :-) ).

    • The most frustrating part about having a conversation with you… well, there’s multiple frustrating parts. First is your sense of entitlement. It’s been five days since you posted your message; and you think that replying to you must obviously come before my commitments to family, church and job.

      Second is your trolling behaviour – insulting me in order to try and get me to react. Fortunately, I’m able to see through that, but I feel sad that think it’s an appropriate way to behave.

      Returning to your previous comment: you summarise my argument as “people followed Jesus, so he must be right”. That’s not my argument. My argument, if you want it to be that short, is “Jesus rose from the dead, so he must be right.” And I am suggesting you take some of the time you would otherwise have spent arguing with me, and use it to a long look at the evidence, both direct and indirect, in favour of that claim. I’m happy to provide pointers to what to read if that helps.

      I’m not sure how you see “I couldn’t do what Jesus did” as an argument in favour of your position.

      And as for Jesus being a “bright young man, smart enough to provide moral guidance”, see: http://adam4d.com/option/ .

      • Hah, forgive me. But I’m just used to you ignoring certain key points I make that are uncomfortable to you, I might have judged you too quickly in that aspect.

        The reason why I’m doing what you consider “trolling” is because I believe, and I might be mistaken here, that you are someone who is trying to sneak in his religious affiliation to make himself more interesting. In my opinion, you are an attention-seeking person and your religion is just a pretext for getting some attention now and then.

        It’s not like you don’t understand other people’s right to choose their religion freely. It’s just that you won’t understand how others *could* choose another religion than you. You’re putting up pressure in one direction by not understanding how people could choose a different religion than you and I react to that by putting up counter-pressure. It’s only natural, the Streisand effect being one popular example for similar dynamics.

        The way I see it (and again I might be mistaken here), your writing on diversity tells me “I don’t want to feel excluded for not being open-minded when it comes to certain things, and I want to subtly remind everyone of the faith that I hold to so dearly (and which is the only faith which provides true answers to questions)”.

        If that wasn’t the reason you wrote this, I’m sorry for misinterpreting your post. But then again, I have read so many of your blog posts over the past years and I know that you can’t keep an open mind, so you cannot judge me for interpreting your posts in a certain way, right?

        • Regarding what you call “evidence” that you think supports the claim that “Jesus rose from the dead”: Why do you believe people were burnt under the pretext of being witches in the middle age when in fact they just had superior knowledge about medicine plants? People were just not as enlightened back then as they are today. It was easy to camouflage something as a wonder and stir both fear and heroism by this. That’s called “mob psychology” and it still exists today, but in different forms. Why do you believe certain leaders are so successful recruiting people for their cause? – Characteristic leaders know how to move people.

          What really happened we can’t know. Whether it was something we’d call a “wonder” in these days, I doubt that. There does seem to be any evidence that would support that, and anything you’re going to give me is likely not going to be scientific enough (how could it be; science as we know it wasn’t evolved at all in those days).

          Did you ever watch the movie “Life of Brian”? I think you should.

          • Of course I’ve seen “Life of Brian” – I am British, you know :-) Jesus is in it (briefly). The Python team were trying to say that any old person could claim to be the Messiah, and the people of the time were so gullible that they’d believe anything.

            As well as being incredibly patronising, that view just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. The gospels do not read like they were written by a bunch of naive idiots. Have you ever read the Gospel of John? I think you should.

        • You act surprised when I appear uninterested in responding to what you say, and yet you descend to personal abuse.

          You say that I can’t understand how others could choose a religion other than Christianity; but I understand it very well:

          The god of this age [Satan] has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4)

          Of course people want to choose other religions; rejecting the true God is the natural condition of the human heart.

          • I am not surprised at all when you appear uninterested in responding, because you always do, and this, in my opinion, is because you think you’re superior to me (at least you act that way). I will let you keep that belief…

            I was, for once, not trying to troll but to genuinely express how I feel about your subtle references about religion and how I interpret them.

            Regarding the gospels not being written by a bunch of naive idiots: They might have been smart, but narrow-minded and naive when compared to the knowledge we have today. Also, even the smartest among us are bound to interpret things wrong. There might have been revisionism in place, who knows. Another reason for them keeping up the fantasy stories around Jesus could be because it might have had a positive effect on people. Maybe all the people who wrote the bible deserve our respect, regardless of what they wrote was to be taken literally or not…

            Do you have independent sources (and by that I mean: Really independent, no excerpts from the bible or strong-believing Christian authors) that would prove everything you claim to be true?

            Regarding your second post:
            *sigh* What you wrote closes all loopholes for people like you, doesn’t it?

            Honestly, you could replace “Jesus” with “Thy holy cheese-sandwich with tomatoes” and “God” with “a rubber-squirrel with a tie” in that quote and it could still hold true.

            Assuming I were to create a religion, of course I’d make sure that the unbelievers are punished, and no one listens to them. And that my religion is superior because it’s the true natural condition of the human heart or whatever. Otherwise, the whole concept of my religion would be endangered, wouldn’t it? Scientology tells the same bullshit to people, and makes a lot of money with it. Feeling superior is one of the many reasons for becoming a member of a religion, why else would you take on that burden if not for some imagined superiority.

            Assuming there exist similar quotes for other religions, the same thing could be said about the Christian faith by other religions. Ever thought about that?

            Oh, also by “understanding” I mean: Not being nerdy about whatever fantasy novel (like the bible) you read but PERSONALLY and GENUINELY accepting the possibility that what you believe might be wrong in other people’s opinions (regardless of whether it is ultimately right or wrong), same as you believe other religions to be false, other people might have the same thoughts about your religion). You are not a philosophical zombie, but a person with his own thoughts and ideals. I doubt that everything you ever did or thought has ALWAYS been in the image of your holy god. You cannot dispute that.