It feels odd to have to make these arguments for diversity, again, some centuries after the Enlightenment. And decades after Darwin, in whose name many fallacious opposite “interpretations” are levied.
Nevertheless, the evidence is there for us as it has always been. Diversity isn’t a bad thing — it’s a good thing. For populations, for economies, for problem solving, for all of us. The more options there are, the higher probability that one of them might be the right match, or the thing that solves the problem, or the best selection for the job at hand.
So there’s a strict mathematical component to the arguments for diversity, but beyond that many fields have weighed in on the utility and pragmatic value of diversity. This assortment is a work in progress I’ll continue to add to over time:
- In biology, more diverse populations are more resilient to a wider variety of changes. This resilience is one of the best arguments for diversity of all.
- The best investment portfolio, generally speaking, is the one that is most diversified.
- In business, a diversity of new ideas leads to better decision-making and increased innovation; studies show a diverse workforce, as well as a diverse board, nets better results and outperforms their more conformist cousins.
- Cross-pollination is generative
- Range adds resilience
- Condorcet jury theorem: the more people there are making a decision, the more right it will be. Plurality makes better decisions. See also: wisdom of crowds
- Law of large numbers: the more data points you have, the more accurate your distribution will be.
- A large number of independent transactions helps economies function properly and grow. We speak of the economy “moving” and finding many touchpoints to do business on.
Diversity unhinges us because it unmasks our hidden assumption that if we all look the same, we will think the same and thereby avoid conflict.
Deep down, we still secretly hope that we can avoid having to deal with our differences by magically generating conformity.
Our unspoken wish is that, by being identical, we achieve the harmony and collective togetherness we so deeply crave — the collective harmony we mistake for God.
Diversity outcompetes monoculture
The opposite of diversity is monoculture… and inbreeding. Monoculture represents sameness, stasis, and stagnation — the system or culture feels fairly dull and stale.
Most people like a certain level of variety in their lives. Some though, have great aversion to difference, change, or both. Authoritarian personalities tend to dislike difference, while individuals with conservative ideology tend to dislike change.
One of the more relatable arguments for diversity stems from the fact that a majority of people enjoy and benefit from diverse points of view, experiences, community members, and beyond.