“I Support Viewpoint Diversity” Badge by Jeremy Willinger | Sep 12, 2016 | About Heterodox Academy, campus turmoil, education, Students, Workplace | 13 commentsAs part of our one year anniversary celebration, we engaged our membership to envision how the academy might look in 2025. We got a lot of engaging and interesting responses from a range of perspectives, reflecting the diversity in political affiliations of our members. Turning our attention to our readership, we brainstormed how to provide a way to show support for viewpoint diversity. Then it hit us: Offer a badge for posting on social media, office doors, cubicles and meeting rooms! So, we proudly present the Heterodox Academy Viewpoint Diversity Badge. Click the link to download web and print versions and learn about a fun way to broadcast your support. PrintTweetMorePocketWhatsAppTelegramShare on Tumblr13 Comments The Independent Whig on September 21, 2016 at 5:15 pm It’s worse than bdavi52 suggests.Possibly the most dangerous mortal threat to Western Civilization is the toxic mix of the WEIRD cognitive style in combination with the one-foundation moral matrix of “care.”Just as there are different physical body types (e.g., ectomorph, endomorph, mesomorph), so too, it seems are there different brain types; different processing algorithms, like PC and Mac, that connect the dots of the evidence presented to us by our senses in different ways.Two predominant cognitive styles are evident throughout human history.Like the fable of the blind men and the elephant, the two cognitive styles, or sub-aspects of them, have been observed and described by different people in different ways through the years.Examples of these descriptions include:“The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization” by Arthur Herman“A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles” by Thomas Sowell“The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left” by Yuval Levin“Rationalism in Politics” by Michael OakeshottA passage from “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion,” by Jonathan Haidt offers a brief overview of the two main cognitive styles: ==========“Several of the peculiarities of WEIRD culture can be captured in this simple generalization: The WEIRDer you are, the more you see a world full of separate objects, rather than relationships. It has long been reported that Westerners have a more independent and autonomous concept of the self than do East Asians} For example, when asked to write twenty statements beginning with the words “I am … ,” Americans are likely to list their own internal psychological characteristics (happy, outgoing, interested in jazz), whereas East Asians are more likely to list their roles and relationships (a son, a husband, an employee of Fujitsu).The differences run deep; even visual perception is affected. In what’s known as the framed-line task, you are shown a square with a line drawn inside it. You then tum the page and see an empty square that is larger or smaller than the original square. Your task is to draw a line that is the same as the line you saw on the previous page, either in absolute terms (same number of centimeters; ignore the new frame) or in relative terms (same proportion relative to the frame). Westerners, and particularly Americans, excel at the absolute task, because they saw the line as an independent object in the first place and stored it separately in memory. East Asians, in contrast, outperform Americans at the relative task, because they automatically perceived and remembered the relationship among the parts.4Related to this difference in perception is a difference in thinking style. Most people think holistically (seeing the whole context and the relationships among parts), but WEIRD people think more analytically (detaching the focal object from its context, assigning it to a category, and then assuming that what’s true about the category is true about the object).5 Putting this all together, it makes sense that WEIRD philosophers since Kant and Mill have mostly generated moral systems that are individualistic, rule-based, and universalist. That’s the morality you need to govern a society of autonomous individuals.But when holistic thinkers in a non-WEIRD culture write about morality, we get something more like the Analects of Confucius, a collection of aphorisms and anecdotes that can’t be reduced to a single rule.6 Confucius talks about a variety of relationship-specific duties and virtues (such as filial piety and the proper treatment of one’s subordinates).If WEIRD and non-WEIRD people think differently and see the world differently, then it stands to reason that they’d have different moral concerns. If you see a world full of individuals, then you’ll want the morality of Kohlberg and Turiel-a morality that protects those individuals and their individual rights. You’ll emphasize concerns about harm and fairness.But if you live in a non-WEIRD society in which people are more likely to see relationships, contexts, groups, and institutions, then you won’t be so focused on protecting individuals. You’ll have a more sociocentric morality, which means (as Shweder described it back in chapter 1) that you place the needs of groups and institutions first, often ahead of the needs of individuals. If you do that, then a morality based on concerns about harm and fairness won’t be sufficient. You’ll have additional concerns, and you’ll need additional virtues to bind people together. ==========The two cognitive styles are characterized by the pairings in the following list. The WEIRD Platonic style is represented by the left item of each pair, the Holistic Aristotelian style is represented by the right item of each pair. These are the different parts of the same two basic elephants that have been seen and described by the various blind men who’ve observed human nature through the years:1. Platonic v Aristotelian [The Cave and the Light by Herman] 2. Idealism v Empiricism [Herman, and philosophy] 3. Technical Knowledge v Practical Knowledge [Oakeshott] 4. WEIRD v Holistic [ The Righteous Mind by Haidt] 5. Rationalism v Intuitionism [Haidt, and Rationalism in Politics by Oakeshott] 6. Unconstrained v Constrained* [A Conflict of Visions , by Sowell] 7. Liberal v Conservative* 8. Reason v Experience [Herman, and The Independent Whig] 9. Trees v Forest [layman’s description] 10. Paine v Burke [The Great Debate by Levin] 11. Naïve Realism (Epistemic arrogance) v Epistemic Humility [Naïve realism is described by Haidt in The Happiness Hypothesis , epistemic humility is described by Muller in Conservatism .] 12. Pedantic v Sagacious 13. Exception seeking v big picture viewing 14. Solutions v Tradeoffs 15. No limiting principle, never done, always wants more v perfect is the enemy of possibleIt is WEIRD thinking, in combination with the one-foundation moral matrix of care, which leads to a pantheon of popularly held fundamental ground truths about human nature upon which much (most? All?) of today’s political debate rests.The problem is that most of those fundamental truths that “everybody knows” are wrong. They’re falsehoods. They’re lies. They’re myths. Or, in the polite words of Heterodox Academy’s “Problem” page, they’re “entrenched yet questionable orthodoxies.”For purposes of discussion, here’s a proposed list of such falsehoods and the truths they deny and defy:False Belief: reason is objective analysis of empirical facts. Truth: Reason is almost entirely subjective.False Belief: Human thought and action is determined mostly by reason, and therefore the reason people don’t act or think “right” is because they don’t think straight. Truth: Ninety-nine percent of what we think, say, and do is driven by subconscious intuition.False Belief: Reason evolved in humans to help them make better decisions Truth: Reason evolved to create post hoc rationalizations in defense of our intuitions.False Belief: The mind is a blank slate at birth, which means that everything we believe about right and wrong, and good and bad, is taught to us or learned as we mature. Truth: We’re born already “knowing” at a subconscious level, many things about favorable and unfavorable behavior. (The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, by Pinker. Predisposed: Liberals, Conservatives, and the Biology of Political Differences, by Hibing, Smith, and Alford)False Belief: There’s no genetic component to ideology, and the only reason we’re liberal, conservative, or something else is because of what we’ve been taught, or because of the environment we grew up in, or because we “reasoned” our way to our ideology. Truth: Ideology is at least partly heritable. We tend to inherit personality traits from our parents including in matters of ideology. We’re born predisposed to lean left or right, and most people stay with that predisposition.False Belief: There’s no genetic component to behavioral differences among groups of people of different sexes, cultures, or ideologies, and therefore all such differences are nothing more than artificial social constructs Truth: Evolution continues. It happens within groups, which creates differences between groups. (Faster Evolution Means More Ethnic Differences by Jonathan Haidt, The Bell Curve Twenty Years Later: A Q&A With Charles Murray.)False Belief: Abstract reason is the path to moral truth. Truth: Reason is terrible at finding moral truth, and often leads us away from it.False Belief: Since reason is the path to moral truth, and since human behavior is determined almost entirely by reason and by social constructs, then all we have to do to achieve the good society is teach the right things and put in place the right social constructs. Truth: Since none of the assumptions upon which this is based are true, this too is not true.False Belief: Morality starts and ends with “care” Truth: It also includes, fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority, and sanctity.False Belief: Liberals understand conservatives better than conservatives understand liberals Truth: It’s the other way around.False Belief: Liberals understand human nature better than do conservatives Truth: Again, it’s the other way around. ( Haidt on The Colbert Report. Colbert does a fantastic job of summarizing Haidt’s work. Haidt on Moyers and Company)False Belief: Religion is somehow fundamentally different from ideology or morality, secular or otherwise. Truth: Religion, morality, and ideology are nothing more than different words for the same underlying aspect of human nature. Namely they represent the value sets around which like-minded people form into groups which then compete with other groups for political power and influence.Religion-like faith in these false beliefs is, to some degree or another depending on the person or group, the basis of “The Unconstrained Vision” described by Thomas Sowell in “A Conflict of Visions,” and the Platonic world view described by Arthur Herman in “The Cave and the Light.”In this vision, basically Plato’s world view, every person, place, or thing in the real world is but a poor imitation of its ideal self. And it is the duty, the moral obligation, of “enlightened” individuals who see this truth, to emplace the social structures and teach the moral truths that will create “The Good Society” and “The New Man” in the image of the Platonic ideal.This vision is, essentially, social creationism. It is the idea that mankind not only can, but should, consciously and deliberately, bend the moral arc to force it into compliance with man’s own godlike vision of what the world, and human civilization, and human nature, can be and importantly SHOULD be.In its name – in the name of the idealism of the WEIRD Platonic cognitive style – have been committed the most heinous crimes against humanity the world has ever seen.From the French Revolution, to Russian, Chinese, Cambodian, and Cuban Communism, to Italian Fascism, and German Nazism, the “Unconstrained Vision” of WEIRD Platonic thinking has committed genocide on a grand, industrial, scale.Proper treatment of a disease requires proper diagnosis of its cause.Viewpoint diversity alone treats only the symptoms of the disease that’s perceived to afflict Western Culture.The real disease is the toxic mix of the one-foundation moral matrix in combination with the abstract reason and idealism of the Platonic cognitive style.The cure is education.It would take only minor adjustments to current public school curricula to “mythbust” the falsehoods listed above and replace them with truths.For starters, I’d suggest the following could, and should, be worked into current K-16 curricula:1. Intuition comes first, strategic reasoning follows 2. Intuitions come from moral foundations 3. The moral foundations 4. There’s more to morality than care and fairness 5. Morality binds and blinds. 6. The Argumentative TheoryYou get the picture, I’m sure.A more detailed suggestion / Lesson Plan / Learning Objectives is here: https://theindependentwhig.com/2016/05/20/lesson-plan-version-1-first-rough-draft/ janby on September 17, 2016 at 6:45 pm Today’s political viewpoints bind policy prescriptions and group impacts in a precarious stranglehold called identity politics. Enter the victimology culture. Depart viewpoint diversity.Three of my biggest problems with victim group culture: 1] the failure to see/acknowledge the burdens of others; 2] the insistence that one group’s victories must come at the expense of another’s; and 3] establishing parity/superiority via denigration of other groups.This is true on both sides of today’s coin. No group is immune.I used to sit in amazement as the women-are-oppressed-and men-have-it-great meme gained huge traction in the US during the Vietnam War. Meanwhile, 58,000 males never came home, many who did come home limbless, suffering from PTSD or brain injuries, and were treated as scum. During that same time, I watched men in my working class neighborhood trudge off to dreary jobs bowed under the weight of providing for their families just to get by. I saw skinny short, and/or homely boys hoping against hope that they’d get a “Yes” to the date. I saw non-gladiator rows of bench-sitters…boys struggling in schools, men who’d never get to feel the extraordinary joy of carrying a child in one’s womb [or the pain, to be fair] or even hold their child after a divorce. I could go on. And on.I was pretty sure I got the long end of the stick and thought; “Well, if men have ALL the control, they certainly suck at creating the perfect male world.”Did women have legitimate complaints? Undoubtedly. Women faced a glass ceiling and body-image struggles. Many felt stifled as housekeepers or worked away from home AND at home. Women struggled to be seen as equals and to be heard. Women faced domestic abuse. I could go on here, too.But why compare, rate and denigrate?Suffering is part of the human condition. It looks different on different folks but I’ve never known anyone who escaped suffering’s fetid embrace. Suicide stats certainly imply that all that glitters is not gold.So why does the recognition of women’s struggles turn into denying men’s struggles? Why does girl power so often look more like boys-are-drug-needing-addlepated-delinquents? Why does providing opportunity turn into denying fairness? What is the point?The race to claim that one group’s suffering trumps other group’s suffering seems pointless, counter-productive – even damaging. Nurturing a sense of victimhood causes the members of the victim group to actually suffer more; sadly, sometimes that very real suffering is created by perceptions more than reality. Just the belief that one’s suffering is unique on the human scale causes pain. Embracing a victimology culture also rips the fabric of community, suppresses out-group empathy, adds to mutual distrust and resentment, dampens hope, provides a crippling excuse for failure, and yields unending frustration all around.Yes, we need more academic rigor, a “strong culture of critical thinking,” a rejection of orthodoxy. But I wonder if we need a culture of empathy [not mushy-gushy sympathy] that encourages us to explore the wider human condition and look outward.Viewpoint diversity takes the blinders off. But, one has to be willing to open one’s eyes. As bdavi said, one must be willing to get past perspective and walk toward reason.Viewpoint diversity and the “will to look” operate in a lovely synergy; one encourages the other and vice-versa. Paul Brinkley on September 17, 2016 at 6:06 pm Some truths can be gate-kept. They include things like “1+1=2”. (I literally had to argue with my then-GF over this, and she has a doctorate in a STEM field.) They also include things like “Hillary Clinton was FLOTUS from 1993 to 2001”. If you put that 1+1 equaled 1.95 or that Laura Bush was FLOTUS from 1993 to 2001 on a test and a grader marked it wrong, they’re gatekeeping truth, and I’m okay with these cases, and I’m fairly certain everyone reading this is also okay with them.What I think we’re less okay with are propositions whose truth is harder to verify due to vagueness (“World War II was caused by a depressed German economy and increasing anti-Semitic paranoia”) or representations of truth that are incomplete and misleading (“the poorest state in the US has gone to the Republican presidential candidate for the past 20 years, while the wealthiest went to the Democrat”), or hard to verify due to limited information (“the employment rate in $city dropped due to minimum wage legislation passed last year”) and perhaps a few other proposition categories.So there are at least two categories of propositions with regard to truth-bearing. There’s a truth that you can indeed stick to; it’s not the case that absolutely everything is a matter of opinion.However, the categorization of any given proposition is itself a matter of contention, in certain critical cases. My example propositions above are (I hope) obvious and easy; many are not. And we don’t even agree on what goes into the gray area. And if we played it super-tight and only admitted truths that everyone agreed were gatekeepable, we’d find that many of today’s decisions hinge on the truth of propositions that don’t fit there. We’d be certain of what is true, but be unable to act. (Although I suppose the upside would be that we would be certain that we could not act with certainty…)I believe most people recognize there are truths that practically everyone would defend. I believe most people are instead at the point of quarreling over which truths belong in the gray area. Maybe one key opportunity for heterodox academia is to develop better ways to categorize propositions. Cass on September 15, 2016 at 11:19 am “Wouldn’t we more truly prefer to preface such a commitment to “viewpoint diversity” with an even more fundamental commitment to Quality & Truth?”Only if *I* (and folks who share my values and sensibilities) get to determine what constitutes Quality & Truth :p Lord knows, it’s not as though people on both sides of the ideological spectrum don’t constantly present their own opinions and value judgments as “incontrovertible truth”… and their opponents’ opinions and value judgments as “lies”.I’m not sure the marketplace of ideas needs a guild of professional gatekeepers so much as it does informed consumers who are allowed to examine the merchandise and judge for themselves what constitutes “quality”. Isn’t that the entire point of a college education – to teach students how to evaluate the world around them? That our own values affect our valuation isn’t going to change. Hopefully, education provides some balance and humility though.As for “truth”, I’m not sure anyone (in or out of academia) is qualified to render that judgment for the rest of us. Thinkers have been wrestling with that one throughout history, with “truth” mostly consisting of the consensus of each age. bdavi52 on September 15, 2016 at 8:56 pm Yes, but such an answer is way too easy, way too lazy, and way too common — and opens the door wide to an insidious Relativism which says, in its crudest form, “Hey, it’s all a matter of opinion…and everyone is entitled. What I think is just as good as what you think!” That way there be Monsters.Instead — given that there is a central, core, eternal Truth. Given that there is a Reality against which we can compare & test our various propositions, surely one so carefully trained & practiced (let’s call them an experienced teacher) can distinguish (and should distinguish) between perspectives, thoughts, assertions which move us closer to or further from a better understanding of that reality?If, as a timely for-instance, I assert rather loudly that I am oppressed, should not the reasonable person challenge such a blind assertion with a series of reasonable, data-based questions & concerns? And wouldn’t an inability to build a rational response with facts, figures, and strong argument tend to indicate that at the very least my understanding was highly deficient and my assertions significantly questionable?And definitely no — we clearly do not want (and should abhor) the notion that everyone should judge for themselves what constitutes Quality (in the largest sense of the word). That, indeed, is what education and learning is all about — the development of the capability to discriminate, to see & understand the difference between what is High and Low, Good & Bad. I may love a greasy hotdog while watching a ball game but I know that it is not a High Good….just as we know Duchamps ‘Fountain’ is not even a bad approximation of the Sistine Chapel. And if our Teachers cannot teach & justify such distinctions…if they simply throw-up their hands and say, “Judge for yourself”, then 20M students are wasting billions of hard-earned dollars on what is no better than learning how to flip a coin. Surely you would not advocate such a thing? Cass on September 16, 2016 at 1:21 pm Thanks for your thoughtful response. You raise some very interesting points. I suspect you and I are circling the same position, but the words are getting in the way 🙂 I couldn’t agree more with your question here:“If, as a timely for-instance, I assert rather loudly that I am oppressed, should not the reasonable person challenge such a blind assertion with a series of reasonable, data-based questions & concerns…”Absolutely – yes! I’m not suggesting teachers throw up their hands and tell students that every opinion (or idea) is just as good as the next. That would hardly train students to evaluate ideas on their merits, would it?And I’m certainly not suggesting competing “viewpoints” (my supposedly unique view of the world as a woman – as though plumbing somehow determines ideology or values – vs. someone else’s as a black man) be elevated to the status of competing methods of statistical inference or dueling economic theories.One of the things a college education did for me was provide the tools to evaluate what I read in the papers every day: to ask better questions, and understand the answers.Perhaps it’s the word “viewpoint” that’s – to borrow a popular and loaded catchphrase – problematic :p If viewpoint diversity elevates identity/perspective to the same level as academic inquiry and debate, I’m in violent agreement that’s not helpful. But if viewpoint diversity means we are actively encouraged to examine all sides of a debate in a balanced way, then I think it’s *exactly* what’s needed.In college, I was required to take a class on the perspectives of marginalized people (I believe it was called something loopy like Humanity 101, though mostly it was about feminism and the civil rights movement) in order to graduate. Do you think students were encouraged to seriously question the textbook author’s assertions/arguments in class?No – that women (one example) had been deliberately and systematically oppressed was presented to us as established fact beyond debate or dispute. Questions that supported a deeper understanding of how technology, demographics, and competing interests drive public policy were neither welcome nor encouraged. One competing ‘viewpoint” might have been that as society grows more prosperous and secure, we have the luxury of valuing individual rights more highly in relation to stability and the traditional pecking order.One can view history through the relatively narrow lens of subjective experience and individual hardship, or through a wider lens that recognizes trade-offs between prioritizing the needs of individuals over those of the culture and society we live in. Where the “right” balance or the best set of trade-offs lies is precisely the kind of question that is and must be affected by our values. I’m not sure there’s one right answer for all time.These are eternal questions, and the very real slippery slope you fear (intellectual/moral relativism) is balanced by an opposing one (the intellectual atrophy that comes from believing we already have all the answers we need, thank-you-very-much!). Or even worse, that if we don’t know anyone who disagrees with us, we’ve established Truth. bdavi52 on September 16, 2016 at 3:05 pm Well said & summarized. I agree.[Thank God I missed those required indoctrinations. Though they still tinted pretty much everything the social sciences offered (even in the early 70’s, as ‘progressive’ curriculums emerged).] bdavi52 on September 14, 2016 at 2:25 pm Hmmmm.We don’t really mean we “support (ALL) viewpoint diversity on campus” do we? Without any qualification?Are we truly saying we support the expression of any idea, any thought, any cockeyed notion no matter how ignorant, no matter how delusional, no matter how uninformed, no matter how defamatory — no matter how much it violates Truth? We support those viewpoints just because they’re ‘diverse’?Surely not.Wouldn’t we more truly prefer to preface such a commitment to “viewpoint diversity” with an even more fundamental commitment to Quality & Truth?Peter Wood noted this distinction quite eloquently (http://www.mindingthecampus.org/2015/10/the-u-of-chicagos-flawed-support-for-freedom-of-expression/) saying, “Freedom of expression permits lies and misrepresentations and, up to a point, protects the liar in his exercise of the right. The “fundamental” regard of the university for freedom of expression, however, is in direct tension with the fundamental regard the university must also have for the truth.”He added this further clarification in his work on “The Architecture of Intellectual Freedom”: “Mere “perspective” is not an argument or evidence. When a student encounters a variety of “perspectives” in a classroom, it is an experience not much removed from encountering a variety of different forms of ignorance. Students move beyond ignorance only at the point in which they cease to assert “this is my perspective,” and assert instead, “Here is a reason, open for all to judge or to rebut, for thinking that this idea is valid.”Yes we support “viewpoint diversity” … but not simply because it a viewpoint, and not simply because it is diverse…but because it is an earnest, well-thought-out, well-researched & strongly justified expression of an idea which may (if accurate & rational) move us closer to the Truth.God save us from the well-intentioned who would staff our heart surgery team with the extraordinarily diverse Janitor, OB-GYN, and Landscape Artist — all offering extraordinarily diverse perspectives on our hearts. Give us, please, instead 3 expert Cardiac specialists who all look & sound alike. Please! Jonathan Haidt on September 14, 2016 at 4:32 pm no, not all. but more than one. We are concerned when there is just one political viewpoint on campus. We all dislike orthodoxy. That’s why we joined. bdavi52 on September 14, 2016 at 7:07 pm Agreed. As Orwell noted: “Orthodoxy means not thinking–not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.” Frederick Rotgers, PsyD, ABPP on September 15, 2016 at 4:44 pm I wonder if the antidote to the crackpot ideas concern is also fostering a strong culture of critical thinking (perhaps this needs to be done even earlier than university–in grade school, perhaps?). I also wonder how we can determine which ideas are so crackpot that we might not want to condone their expression (I suspect many of us would not condone speech that constitutes violent threats against others, for example), as opposed to ideas that seem fantastic, but might just be worthy of consideration. I am reminded of Galileo’s telescope here. It seems to me that combatting orthodoxy requires that we cultivate critical thinking about all ideas and then put the responsibility for applying that thinking on each individual. Michael Trigoboff on September 12, 2016 at 9:05 pm I just added your excellent badge to my Portland Community College website. Jeremy Willinger on September 13, 2016 at 9:37 pm Great news- much appreciated!