Surely Harvard faculty would never say anything like this

by on January 21, 2013 at 1:23 pm in Philosophy, Science | Permalink

SPIEGEL: How do we have to imagine this: You raise Neanderthals in a lab, ask them to solve problems and thereby study how they think?

Church: No, you would certainly have to create a cohort, so they would have some sense of identity. They could maybe even create a new neo-Neanderthal culture and become a political force.

SPIEGEL: Wouldn’t it be ethically problematic to create a Neanderthal just for the sake of scientific curiosity?

Church: Well, curiosity may be part of it, but it’s not the most important driving force. The main goal is to increase diversity. The one thing that is bad for society is low diversity. This is true for culture or evolution, for species and also for whole societies. If you become a monoculture, you are at great risk of perishing. Therefore the recreation of Neanderthals would be mainly a question of societal risk avoidance.

I find this a pretty outrageous and indefensible set of sentiments, and I am one who would like to see the United States target a higher population of 500 million through increased immigration.

It must be a misquotation.  And please note that “Church” is not in fact “The Church” responding, but rather Professor George Church of Harvard University.

Here is more, with numerous hat tips to those in my Twitter feed.

Turkey Vulture January 21, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Why outrageous?

Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Maybe the part about 1. just add neanderthals 2. ??? 3. Robust Diversity!!!

Sigivald January 21, 2013 at 1:46 pm

What Andrew said – a culture created by Harvard faculty would not be “diverse” because they slapped it on Neanderthals.

You don’t make diversity by fiat; you simply don’t smash it when it arises naturally.

Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Mightn’t we also assume that Neanderthals had their shot at robustness?

Margin January 21, 2013 at 4:17 pm

That made me smile and almost giggle a little.

But a more interesting point is that current humans are partially descended from Neanderthals.

They (we) are still here.

Willitts January 21, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Apparently we don’t have sufficient failure programmed into our genome.

Turkey Vulture January 21, 2013 at 2:16 pm

I thought he was saying you’d create a cohort so that they’d develop their own culture.

Rob Wiblin January 21, 2013 at 2:47 pm

It’s funny. People who favour cultural and ecological diversity are rarely actively in favour of creating new diversity (i.e. separating groups to invent new unique cultures, or artificial speciation through introduced species), just in favour of preserving whatever level of diversity already exists.

If quoted correctly, this academic is consistent in that he is really in favour of not only preserving, but creating, diversity. But it goes to show that these arguments are not always compelling.

Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 2:54 pm

It’s just that a different species of human is weird. If you want resilience, buy canned goods.

Brian Donohue January 21, 2013 at 3:14 pm

+1.

Go Kings, Go! January 21, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Why outrageous?

NYT Headline: European Species Revived- Asian, African Species Neglected.

Peter the Shark January 22, 2013 at 5:50 am

+1

zbicyclist January 21, 2013 at 1:32 pm

And what if things go awry? If we did this with ancient mosquitoes, we would simply TRY to exterminate them and few would have ethical problems. But you don’t bring back intelligent beings and then decide to exterminate them when the grant expires or they turn out to be undesirable beings to share the planet with.

maguro January 21, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Not to worry, they’ll just release the Chinese Needle Snakes if things go awry.

JWatts January 21, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Just remember to prep some snake eating gorilla’s to clean up the Chinese Needle snake population afterward.

libfree January 21, 2013 at 7:24 pm

We really need to figure out what to do with all the gorilla bodies when winter comes around and they freeze to death. Can you turn them into ethanol?

Miley Cyrax January 21, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Don’t worry, we’ll genetically modify them so that they’re dependent on our lysine supplements.

In any case, we’ll be making them all females, so they can’t reproduce.

Freethinking Jeremy January 21, 2013 at 7:09 pm

I don’t know about that. I’ve met guys with will reproduce with ANYTHING.

Careless January 22, 2013 at 11:01 am

For some of you, this may mean less mating. For me, much, much more.

Mark Thorson January 21, 2013 at 3:22 pm

And what if things go very, very well? Let’s say we end up with a non-human species that is docile and trainable. That could greatly decrease our need for immigrant labor in agriculture. And we wouldn’t have to pay them!

Simone Simonini January 22, 2013 at 11:05 am

I wouldn’t describe Neanderthals as non-human.

de Broglie January 22, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Many scientists think they may have had larger brains due to their larger cranial capacity. It is possible they may be smarter than the average human.

Therapsid January 21, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Tyler’s hysterical reaction unwittingly reveals the same status quo biased, risk-adverse mentality which has fostered the great stagnation.

Roy January 21, 2013 at 1:57 pm

+1

Gary January 21, 2013 at 4:28 pm

When did “status quo” become a value-laden term? That’s, like, sooo status quo, man.

Rob January 22, 2013 at 5:21 am

It didn’t – there is no comma between “status quo” and “biased”. Perhaps a hyphen would have been appropriate though – “status quo-biased” would have avoided ambiguity.

The Original D January 22, 2013 at 1:57 pm

aka “conservative”

gwern January 21, 2013 at 5:01 pm

The real irony here is that in the interview, Church gives as the main value of resurrected Neanderthals different ways of thinking or possibly even genius-level intelligence. You might call this the neurodiversity-is-valuable argument.

I wonder if there’s a well-known economics blogger who might have written a book or two defending such a belief?

DocMerlin January 21, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Nonsense. Tyler don’t mean what he said when he claimed those beliefs. He was just mood-affiliating.

Affe January 21, 2013 at 7:43 pm

More mood affiliation:

Hey baby,
let’s you and I
go
neuro-diversify…

Peter Schaeffer January 21, 2013 at 6:25 pm

-1

celestus January 21, 2013 at 1:47 pm

The U.S. already has Native Americans, Amish, and maybe even Mormons (just off the top of my head) as diverse counter-cultures. And if we wanted more, wouldn’t it be easier to just fly a cargo plane into Papua New Guinea or the Amazon, grab a lost tribe, and haul them back to America to Make Culture?

Eli January 21, 2013 at 2:41 pm

If attempts at reviving the Neanderthal genome raise ethical issues, then the forced migration of an Amazonian community is probably going to raise some eyebrows…

dead serious January 21, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Some, but probably less. Both are bad ideas. One is less bad.

maguro January 21, 2013 at 1:52 pm

“The one thing that is bad for society is low diversity.”

What a bizarre assertion. This would lead one to believe that India is the healthiest society on the planet due to its high level of diversity while Japan and Finland are among the unhealthiest with their notable lack of the same.

anon January 21, 2013 at 2:01 pm

+1

and +10 for Chinese Needle Snakes

Harvard faculty, hmm. Did Wm. Buckley have something wise to say about that group of philosopher kings?

Ah yes, yes he did:

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/williamfb400600.html

Millian January 21, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Silly. If EVERYONE were like the Japanese or like the Finns, society would be way worse, and certainly more fragile.

Thor January 22, 2013 at 9:45 pm

I told my Japanese wife what you said and she replied that if I repeated it one more time, I’d go the way of the Neanderthals.

Peter Schaeffer January 21, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Diversity doesn’t come free. It is profoundly expensive. Diverse societies have much lower levels of trust and social cohesion. They are frequently deeply dysfunctional. This isn’t just some theory. A liberal academic, R. Putnam studied this issue and found the results so disturbing he refused to publish them for years. I quote

“The downside of diversity A Harvard political scientist finds that diversity hurts civic life. What happens when a liberal scholar unearths an inconvenient truth?”

“IT HAS BECOME increasingly popular to speak of racial and ethnic diversity as a civic strength. From multicultural festivals to pronouncements from political leaders, the message is the same: our differences make us stronger.

But a massive new study, based on detailed interviews of nearly 30,000 people across America, has concluded just the opposite. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam — famous for “Bowling Alone,” his 2000 book on declining civic engagement — has found that 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.”

Bill January 21, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Peter, Could you post the link to Page’s comment because it is inconsistent with his book and research.

From the Princeton Press blurb of Page’s book, the Difference: “The Difference reveals that progress and innovation may depend less on lone thinkers with enormous IQs than on diverse people working together and capitalizing on their individuality. Page shows how groups that display a range of perspectives outperform groups of like-minded experts. Diversity yields superior outcomes, and Page proves it using his own cutting-edge research. Moving beyond the politics that cloud standard debates about diversity, he explains why difference beats out homogeneity, whether you’re talking about citizens in a democracy or scientists in the laboratory. He examines practical ways to apply diversity’s logic to a host of problems, and along the way offers fascinating and surprising examples, from the redesign of the Chicago “El” to the truth about where we store our ketchup.”

Thanks.

Bill January 21, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Peter,

I think I found your quote…but, you left out some things. Here is the link: http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2007/08/05/the_downside_of_diversity/?page=full

“The image of civic lassitude dragging down more diverse communities is at odds with the vigor often associated with urban centers, where ethnic diversity is greatest. It turns out there is a flip side to the discomfort diversity can cause. If ethnic diversity, at least in the short run, is a liability for social connectedness, a parallel line of emerging research suggests it can be a big asset when it comes to driving productivity and innovation. In high-skill workplace settings, says Scott Page, the University of Michigan political scientist, the different ways of thinking among people from different cultures can be a boon.

“Because they see the world and think about the world differently than you, that’s challenging,” says Page, author of “The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies.” “But by hanging out with people different than you, you’re likely to get more insights. Diverse teams tend to be more productive.”

In other words, those in more diverse communities may do more bowling alone, but the creative tensions unleashed by those differences in the workplace may vault those same places to the cutting edge of the economy and of creative culture.

Page calls it the “diversity paradox.” He thinks the contrasting positive and negative effects of diversity can coexist in communities, but “there’s got to be a limit.” If civic engagement falls off too far, he says, it’s easy to imagine the positive effects of diversity beginning to wane as well. “That’s what’s unsettling about his findings,” Page says of Putnam’s new work.”

Anthony January 21, 2013 at 7:45 pm

The way that Page “shows how groups that display a range of perspectives outperform groups of like-minded experts” is to create some mathematical models where that’s the case. That’s it. Assumptions->math-> results. No actual people were studied in the creation of those models. I haven’t read the book, but I’ve read his journal articles and I was shocked at the conclusions he thought flowed from creating some theoretical models where good results flow from diversity, as well as that anyone else was taking this stuff seriously. It sounds like the book adds some anecdotes to the models, but I’d be shocked if it did any actual additional analytic work, since if he had that to show, presumably he’d be submitting that to the journals instead of the very weak, purely theoretical stuff he’s actually publishing.

Bill January 21, 2013 at 7:47 pm

What you are saying is that you didn’t read his book. I did. You’re wrong. He has many examples in his book.

Bill January 21, 2013 at 7:54 pm

Anthony, Here is an online version of the book to see for yourself the rich number examples he gives in the book: available at Google books:

http://books.google.com/books?id=FAFVHnJ7uK0C&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_atb#v=onepage&q&f=false

Bill January 21, 2013 at 8:01 pm
Cliff January 21, 2013 at 8:49 pm

Bill,

By example, do you mean anecdote?

Bill January 21, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Cliff, I don’t understand your comment. Did you look at the book?

Peter Schaeffer January 21, 2013 at 9:51 pm

The gap between theory and practice when it comes to “diversity” (and immigration) is vast. In the fantasy world of academics immigration strengthens public education. In real life, California competes with Mississippi for the worst schools in America.

A serious discussion of the subject would be asking questions like..

Does wholesale educational failure via mass immigration make a society more innovative?

The fact that educational failure via mass immigration is essentially never discussed shows that we are in the realm of ideology, not rigorous analysis.

Anthony January 21, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Bill: social scientists have certain ideas about what evidence for an argument like “groups that display a range of perspectives outperform groups of like-minded experts” would look like – in other words, the kind of research design it would take to get to that conclusion in a way that anyone ought to take seriously. Here are some examples of research designs that cannot constitute evidence for that statement (or its opposite): 1) a mathematical model in which that’s the case, but that hasn’t been validated empirically in any way, 2) some anecdotes in which that was the case that we have no reason to think are representative in any way, but were found by the author seeking out those situations to make his point. The first is what Page’s academic articles do. The book adds #2.
By contrast, Putnam did the type of research that’s actually capable of leading to evidence about the value/drawback of diversity. Instead of creating a mathematical model in which diversity led to bad outcomes, or listing some examples of places where diversity seemed to lead to bad outcomes, he looked at outcomes like how much people trust their neighbors, and did so systematically, meaning not just in certain communities, but using all of the data in a nationally representative survey. He then found that, even conditioning on many things that we would expect might be positively correlated with both diversity and negative social outcomes, diversity was still correlated with lower social capital. This is empirical research – the type of research that social scientists believe constitutes evidence.

Peter Schaeffer January 21, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Anthony,

Didn’t you know that anything can be proven via anecdotes? Need to prove that illegals will all get PhDs via the Dream Act? Find the one (and apparently only) illegal alien PhD and you have your evidence in hand. Of course, Ángel Maturino Reséndiz shows that all immigrants are really serial killers. No kidding.

Real social science requires data, analysis, models, etc. Putnam did that and found that “diversity” produces bad outcomes. Ideologically he remains committed to mass immigration, Open Borders, etc. However, those are political views, not statements of fact based on actual data.

Bill January 21, 2013 at 10:27 pm

Anthony,

You have enough access to the book to realize that statements that his book is simply an exercise in math is incorrect. Nor does the claim of anecdotes make sense either; because what you are really saying is that if a person cites a number of articles by others of their empirical research, then all he is doing is giving anecdotes. Most textbooks, by that standard, would simply be compilations of anecdotes.

He cites support in his book, he footnotes examples, etc. You can, or others can, see this for themselves by looking at the books from the two sources that were cited.

And, then, buy the book.

Peter Schaeffer January 21, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Bill,

I copied the first few paragraphs of the article. The entire article follows below. However, the notion that “diversity” has made Los Angeles and New York more successful and innovative is questionable at best. A generation ago, LA was the “city of the future”, “capital of the world”, or perhaps more realistically “capital of the third world”. That’s all an obvious fantasy now. LA is poor, congested, and best known for its lamentable schools, low wages, and unaffordable housing. That’s what restrictionists predicted decades ago, and it’s all true.

New York City is (arguably) innovative at the high end in finance (to the vast detriment of America) and in the arts. Do high-end immigrants play a role? Yes. The other 99% (of immigrants) make New York City poor, unaffordable, and give New York City the inevitable failing public schools that accompany mass immigration almost everywhere.

Does wholesale educational failure via mass immigration make a society more innovative? Does anyone really believe that?

Of course, New York and Los Angeles were innovative in 1960 with relatively few immigrants. Arguably, LA was a lot more innovative back then. Both cities were assuredly better places to live (as demonstrated by the net migration statistics).

The downside of diversity
A Harvard political scientist finds that diversity hurts civic life. What happens when a liberal scholar unearths an inconvenient truth?

(Illustration/ Keith Negley)

By Michael Jonas | August 5, 2007

IT HAS BECOME increasingly popular to speak of racial and ethnic diversity as a civic strength. From multicultural festivals to pronouncements from political leaders, the message is the same: our differences make us stronger.

But a massive new study, based on detailed interviews of nearly 30,000 people across America, has concluded just the opposite. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam — famous for “Bowling Alone,” his 2000 book on declining civic engagement — has found that 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 study comes at a time when the future of the American melting pot is the focus of intense political debate, from immigration to race-based admissions to schools, and it poses challenges to advocates on all sides of the issues. The study is already being cited by some conservatives as proof of the harm large-scale immigration causes to the nation’s social fabric. But with demographic trends already pushing the nation inexorably toward greater diversity, the real question may yet lie ahead: how to handle the unsettling social changes that Putnam’s research predicts.

“We can’t ignore the findings,” says Ali Noorani, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. “The big question we have to ask ourselves is, what do we do about it; what are the next steps?”

The study is part of a fascinating new portrait of diversity emerging from recent scholarship. Diversity, it shows, makes us uncomfortable — but discomfort, it turns out, isn’t always a bad thing. Unease with differences helps explain why teams of engineers from different cultures may be ideally suited to solve a vexing problem. Culture clashes can produce a dynamic give-and-take, generating a solution that may have eluded a group of people with more similar backgrounds and approaches. At the same time, though, Putnam’s work adds to a growing body of research indicating that more diverse populations seem to extend themselves less on behalf of collective needs and goals.

His findings on the downsides of diversity have also posed a challenge for Putnam, a liberal academic whose own values put him squarely in the pro-diversity camp. Suddenly finding himself the bearer of bad news, Putnam has struggled with how to present his work. He gathered the initial raw data in 2000 and issued a press release the following year outlining the results. He then spent several years testing other possible explanations.

When he finally published a detailed scholarly analysis in June in the journal Scandinavian Political Studies, he faced criticism for straying from data into advocacy. His paper argues strongly that the negative effects of diversity can be remedied, and says history suggests that ethnic diversity may eventually fade as a sharp line of social demarcation.

“Having aligned himself with the central planners intent on sustaining such social engineering, Putnam concludes the facts with a stern pep talk,” wrote conservative commentator Ilana Mercer, in a recent Orange County Register op-ed titled “Greater diversity equals more misery.”

Putnam has long staked out ground as both a researcher and a civic player, someone willing to describe social problems and then have a hand in addressing them. He says social science should be “simultaneously rigorous and relevant,” meeting high research standards while also “speaking to concerns of our fellow citizens.” But on a topic as charged as ethnicity and race, Putnam worries that many people hear only what they want to.

“It would be unfortunate if a politically correct progressivism were to deny the reality of the challenge to social solidarity posed by diversity,” he writes in the new report. “It would be equally unfortunate if an ahistorical and ethnocentric conservatism were to deny that addressing that challenge is both feasible and desirable.”

. . .

Putnam is the nation’s premier guru of civic engagement. After studying civic life in Italy in the 1970s and 1980s, Putnam turned his attention to the US, publishing an influential journal article on civic engagement in 1995 that he expanded five years later into the best-selling “Bowling Alone.” The book sounded a national wake-up call on what Putnam called a sharp drop in civic connections among Americans. It won him audiences with presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and made him one of the country’s best known social scientists.

Putnam claims the US has experienced a pronounced decline in “social capital,” a term he helped popularize. Social capital refers to the social networks — whether friendships or religious congregations or neighborhood associations — that he says are key indicators of civic well-being. When social capital is high, says Putnam, communities are better places to live. Neighborhoods are safer; people are healthier; and more citizens vote.

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.

Putnam knew he had provocative findings on his hands. He worried about coming under some of the same liberal attacks that greeted Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s landmark 1965 report on the social costs associated with the breakdown of the black family. There is always the risk of being pilloried as the bearer of “an inconvenient truth,” says Putnam.

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.

In documenting that hunkering down, Putnam challenged the two dominant schools of thought on ethnic and racial diversity, the “contact” theory and the “conflict” theory. Under the contact theory, more time spent with those of other backgrounds leads to greater understanding and harmony between groups. Under the conflict theory, that proximity produces tension and discord.

Putnam’s findings reject both theories. In more diverse communities, he says, there were neither great bonds formed across group lines nor heightened ethnic tensions, but a general civic malaise. And in perhaps the most surprising result of all, levels of trust were not only lower between groups in more diverse settings, but even among members of the same group.

“Diversity, at least in the short run,” he writes, “seems to bring out the turtle in all of us.”

The overall findings may be jarring during a time when it’s become commonplace to sing the praises of diverse communities, but researchers in the field say they shouldn’t be.

“It’s an important addition to a growing body of evidence on the challenges created by diversity,” says Harvard economist Edward Glaeser.

In a recent study, Glaeser and colleague Alberto Alesina demonstrated that roughly half the difference in social welfare spending between the US and Europe — Europe spends far more — can be attributed to the greater ethnic diversity of the US population. Glaeser says lower national social welfare spending in the US is a “macro” version of the decreased civic engagement Putnam found in more diverse communities within the country.

Economists Matthew Kahn of UCLA and Dora Costa of MIT reviewed 15 recent studies in a 2003 paper, all of which linked diversity with lower levels of social capital. Greater ethnic diversity was linked, for example, to lower school funding, census response rates, and trust in others. Kahn and Costa’s own research documented higher desertion rates in the Civil War among Union Army soldiers serving in companies whose soldiers varied more by age, occupation, and birthplace.

Birds of different feathers may sometimes flock together, but they are also less likely to look out for one another. “Everyone is a little self-conscious that this is not politically correct stuff,” says Kahn.

. . .

So how to explain New York, London, Rio de Janiero, Los Angeles — the great melting-pot cities that drive the world’s creative and financial economies?

The image of civic lassitude dragging down more diverse communities is at odds with the vigor often associated with urban centers, where ethnic diversity is greatest. It turns out there is a flip side to the discomfort diversity can cause. If ethnic diversity, at least in the short run, is a liability for social connectedness, a parallel line of emerging research suggests it can be a big asset when it comes to driving productivity and innovation. In high-skill workplace settings, says Scott Page, the University of Michigan political scientist, the different ways of thinking among people from different cultures can be a boon.

“Because they see the world and think about the world differently than you, that’s challenging,” says Page, author of “The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies.” “But by hanging out with people different than you, you’re likely to get more insights. Diverse teams tend to be more productive.”

In other words, those in more diverse communities may do more bowling alone, but the creative tensions unleashed by those differences in the workplace may vault those same places to the cutting edge of the economy and of creative culture.

Page calls it the “diversity paradox.” He thinks the contrasting positive and negative effects of diversity can coexist in communities, but “there’s got to be a limit.” If civic engagement falls off too far, he says, it’s easy to imagine the positive effects of diversity beginning to wane as well. “That’s what’s unsettling about his findings,” Page says of Putnam’s new work.

Meanwhile, by drawing a portrait of civic engagement in which more homogeneous communities seem much healthier, some of Putnam’s worst fears about how his results could be used have been realized. A stream of conservative commentary has begun — from places like the Manhattan Institute and “The American Conservative” — highlighting the harm the study suggests will come from large-scale immigration. But Putnam says he’s also received hundreds of complimentary emails laced with bigoted language. “It certainly is not pleasant when David Duke’s website hails me as the guy who found out racism is good,” he says.

In the final quarter of his paper, Putnam puts the diversity challenge in a broader context by describing how social identity can change over time. Experience shows that social divisions can eventually give way to “more encompassing identities” that create a “new, more capacious sense of ‘we,’” he writes.

Growing up in the 1950s in a small Midwestern town, Putnam knew the religion of virtually every member of his high school graduating class because, he says, such information was crucial to the question of “who was a possible mate or date.” The importance of marrying within one’s faith, he says, has largely faded since then, at least among many mainline Protestants, Catholics, and Jews.

While acknowledging that racial and ethnic divisions may prove more stubborn, Putnam argues that such examples bode well for the long-term prospects for social capital in a multiethnic America.

In his paper, Putnam cites the work done by Page and others, and uses it to help frame his conclusion that increasing diversity in America is not only inevitable, but ultimately valuable and enriching. As for smoothing over the divisions that hinder civic engagement, Putnam argues that Americans can help that process along through targeted efforts. He suggests expanding support for English-language instruction and investing in community centers and other places that allow for “meaningful interaction across ethnic lines.”

Some critics have found his prescriptions underwhelming. And in offering ideas for mitigating his findings, Putnam has drawn scorn for stepping out of the role of dispassionate researcher. “You’re just supposed to tell your peers what you found,” says John Leo, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. “I don’t expect academics to fret about these matters.”

But fretting about the state of American civic health is exactly what Putnam has spent more than a decade doing. While continuing to research questions involving social capital, he has directed the Saguaro Seminar, a project he started at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government that promotes efforts throughout the country to increase civic connections in communities.

“Social scientists are both scientists and citizens,” says Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College, who sees nothing wrong in Putnam’s efforts to affect some of the phenomena he studies.

Wolfe says what is unusual is that Putnam has published findings as a social scientist that are not the ones he would have wished for as a civic leader. There are plenty of social scientists, says Wolfe, who never produce research results at odds with their own worldview.

“The problem too often,” says Wolfe, “is people are never uncomfortable about their findings.”

Bill January 21, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Peter,

I am glad you appended the entire article because the excisions that were posted earlier gave one a different impression rather than the nuanced statement in the article.

Now, you might want to read the Putnam Amicus Brief a bit where he discusses his conclusions and applies them to education. “Quite to the contrary, Dr. Putnam’s extensive research and experience confirm the substantial benefits of diversity, including racial and ethnic
diversity, to our society. In his essay, Dr. Putnam concluded that, while increased diversity may present challenges in the short to medium term, greater diversity can lead to significant benefits to society in the medium to long term.” at 3

Bill January 21, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Peter, I also did a little research on Putnam’s views on diversity. You mistated them. Or excised the complete views.

What he has said is that in the short term diversity can lead to short term disengagement, but in the longer term, it is beneficial.

From the Saguaro organization website, which he leads, at Harvard, this is what his website says:

The Saguaro Seminar, under the leadership of Robert D. Putnam, has been conducting research on the inter-relation of diversity (mainly examining race and ethnicity), immigration and social capital since 2001. We have also been examining the relationship between inequality and both diversity and social capital.

The first publication from this research, called ‘E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the 21st Century. The 2006 Johan Skytte Lecture by Robert D. Putnam appears in the June 2007 Scandinavian Political Studies Journal. The diversity research was the subject of Robert D. Putnam’s 2006 Skytte Prize lecture, the top prize given to political scientists, which some consider the rough equivalent of a Nobel Prize.

“There are three key elements of this research, each equally important:
1 – Increased diversity and immigration are essential, inevitable and generally strengthen advanced nations;
2 – But in the short-term, diversity and immigration challenges community cohesion; and
3 – Longer-term, successful immigrant societies overcome these challenges by building a broader sense of “we”. America has successfully done this with the wave of immigration from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. This integration can be done through popular culture, education, national symbols, or common experiences (like national service).”

Here is the link: http://www.hks.harvard.edu/saguaro/research/diversity.htm

Interestly, Putnam also submitted an Amicus Brief in the University of Texas admission litigation by some folks who cited and relied on it; he supported the University in this interesting Amicus Brief: http://www.utexas.edu/vp/irla/Documents/ACR%20Robert%20D.%20Putnam.pdf

Very interesting.

Peter Schaeffer January 21, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Bill,

I accurately quoted that facts about Putnam’s work. He found that diversity undermines (drastically) social cohesion. That’s a hard truth that can not be denied, nor does Putnam even try.

Putnam remains a left / liberal and tries to conjure about ways that the harm(s) inherent in diversity can be mitigated or somehow turned into something positive. That does change his highly negative findings..

As for his “conclusions”, they are expressions of political opinion, not facts.

“Increased diversity and immigration are essential, inevitable and generally strengthen advanced nations”

So homogeneous Finland is dying and (more diverse) Club Med is thriving? America ended mass immigration around the time of WWI for 50+ years. The historical downside is not exactly evident, even in retrospect (the upsides sure are).

“But in the short-term, diversity and immigration challenges community cohesion”

That a statement of fact.

“Longer-term, successful immigrant societies overcome these challenges by building a broader sense of “we”. America has successfully done this with the wave of immigration from the late 1800s to the early 1900s.”

There are a zillion differences between “then” and “now” both in terms of how America functions and the immigrants themselves.

However, the most important point is that we created a sense of “we” by stopping mass immigration. Putnam conveniently ignores that most important point.

Bill January 21, 2013 at 10:42 pm

Peter, Based on what I read, what Putnam is saying is that in the short term diversity reduces group cohesion, just as religious diversity, which he gives as an example, reduced community cohesion, but that diversity over time is a strength ,and that we have to work on creating community. In one of the articles I read he said that his piece should not be read as a conservative manifesto, but as a challenge to create community.

But, let me quote Putnam from his Amicus Brief:

“First, “[i]ncreased immigration and diversity are not only inevitable, but over the long run they are also desirable. Ethnic diversity is, on balance, an important social asset, as the history of [the United States] demonstrates.” Id. at 138. Second, “[i]n the short to medium run, however, immigration and ethnic diversity challenge social solidarity and inhibit social capital.” Id. Third, “[i]n the medium to long run, on the other hand, successful immigrant societies create new forms of social solidarity and dampen the negative
effects of diversity by constructing new, more encompassing identities.” Id. at 138-39. Accordingly, “the central challenge for modern,
diversifying societies is to create a new, broader sense of ‘we.’” Id. at 139.

…The second part of E Pluribus Unum focuses on the challenges resulting from diversity in the short to medium term. Id. at 138. In examining these challenges, Dr. Putnam analyzed the “Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey” of 2000, which
contained a sample size of 30,000 people. Id. at 144. The sample included a “representative national sample of 3,000” and smaller samples in 41 different communities nationwide. Id. The study found that, at the time, increased diversity triggered both lower inter-racial trust and trust in people of the respondent’s own race. See id. at 147-48. Dr. Putnam stated that “[d]iversity seems to trigger not
in-group/out-group division, but anomie or social isolation.” Id. at 149. The third finding of E Pluribus Unum shows that
in the medium to long term, diversity leads to many positive results. Id. at 138-39. Because notions of “diversity” are based on “socially constructed identities,” the adaptation to diversity over time requires Americans to develop a more encompassing sense of “we.”

The Putnam brief then cites the work of none other than Page for support: Better, faster problem-solving is produced by increased diversity, especially intellectual diversity. See, e.g., Scott E. Page, The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better
Groups, Firms, Schools and Societies (2007).”

Peter Schaeffer January 22, 2013 at 12:50 am

Bill,

“]ncreased immigration and diversity are not only inevitable, but over the long run they are also desirable”

Anyone can argue that increased immigration is desirable. That is an opinion. However, arguing that increased immigration is inevitable is simply Open Borders religion. Plenty of nations have historically controlled (as in stopped) mass immigration. The U.S. after 1914 is only one example. Denmark and the Netherlands have sharply curtailed immigration in recent years. Malaysia massively deported illegals are few years ago. The list of successful immigration crackdowns is long. Check out Eisenhower’s remarkable record on the subject.

The same holds for “diversity”. Anyone can argue that more or less diversity is a good thing. That’s a matter of opinion. To claim that it is inevitable puts you in the same realm as the Marxists who used to argue that the “dictatorship of the proletariat” was equally inevitable. Notably, islamists make the same claim for the ultimate victory of their Jihad.

When America stopped mass immigration early in the 20th century, we chose to make assimilation a higher virtue than “diversity”. Inevitably, “diversity” declined as assimilation proceeded. Of course, social cohesion rose and political polarization declined.

Edward Burke January 21, 2013 at 1:53 pm

But–but we have Neanderthals, don’t we?

Bill January 21, 2013 at 1:56 pm

We protect Neanderthan rights through the

Neanderderthal
Rights
Association.

Mark Thorson January 21, 2013 at 5:00 pm

People for the Ethical Treatment of Neanderthals. They’re all nutcases, I tell you. Neanderthals enjoy working outdoors, working with their hands, working in the fields. I’m not saying there aren’t some bad owners, but my Neanderthals are treated very well. We don’t need any government interference.

karl January 21, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Ah, the old estate’s rights argument.

tt January 21, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Lubos Motl was a Harvard professor.

Mr. Econotarian January 21, 2013 at 2:02 pm

If he means genetic diversity with regards to disease tolerance, if a plague wipes out all Homo sapiens but leaves the Homo neanderthalensis, personally I would be just as upset as if a plague wipes out all Homo sapiens, and there were no living Homo neanderthalensis, because my loved ones are not Homo neanderthalensis.

On the other hand, it is possible that H. neanderthalensis could provide some new intellectual diversity to the world, but so would hooking up a lot of currently desperately poor Homo sapiens up into the global economy/Internet/etc.

Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Homo neanderthalensis? That’s what I’m afraid of!

Ray Lopez January 21, 2013 at 2:21 pm

RU Homo-phobic Andrew’? They are in Russia. I really have no idea what TC is talking about in this thread…it’s way too clever by half. As for Neanderthals, there were some very speculative indications that the Basque country in Spain contained such DNA.

Turkey Vulture January 21, 2013 at 2:33 pm

I hope there is something clever about this, because saying “I find this a pretty outrageous and indefensible set of sentiments” without actually explaining in any way why the statements are outrageous or indefensible is lame, as if calling them such makes them so and precludes the need for actual reasons.

Matt January 21, 2013 at 2:06 pm

“Find all minor alleles. Practice embryo selection strategically to boost their frequency. Diversity and a stronger society!”. Is this defensible, even if you limit yourself to minor alleles without disease associations?

As for cloning Neanderthals, I do think that you can argue for the recreation of a Neanderthal culture based on attempting to understand their culture, and that that will make us stronger. Perhaps they “had their chance” but we would be able to understand why their chance did not go well, and our culture and world is now different.

Although, as equal participants in our society, you’d probably get more real benefit out of cloning up a batch of George Church, and since he’s an outlier (in terms of IQ, achievement), that would also follow the argument of increasing diversity.

..

Also why is 500 million a target rate? Seems extremely random. Just some random figure. “500 million”. Higher than present, but there’s a cap to kind of act as a lame concession. Like stimulus package figures.

Jacob AG January 21, 2013 at 2:34 pm

“I do think that you can argue for the recreation of a Neanderthal culture based on attempting to understand their culture”

Don’t we have lots of homo sapiens culture to study? Just type “The culture that is” into MargRev’s search field.

Willitts January 21, 2013 at 8:56 pm

I interpreted his culture comment very differently. In order to study the cognitive development of a troupe of Neanderthals, they would have to be uninfluenced by modern humans.

The problem is that they won’t have an existing Neanderthal social structure and environment in which to develop.

Dave January 21, 2013 at 10:33 pm

They would also lack wooly mammoths, sabre tooth tigers, and whatever else in their environment helped to create the culture that was theirs however many thousands of years ago.

Doug January 22, 2013 at 4:14 am

“I do think that you can argue for the recreation of a Neanderthal culture based on attempting to understand their culture”

How do you understand their culture by “recreating” them? Any culture they have will have to be our culture, not their own. I mean, what are you going to do, just drop a bunch of baby neanderthals off in the jungle and hope they figure out a way to survive on their own?

Miley Cyrax January 21, 2013 at 2:10 pm

“Church: Well, curiosity may be part of it, but it’s not the most important driving force. The main goal is to increase diversity. The one thing that is bad for society is low diversity. This is true for culture or evolution, for species and also for whole societies. If you become a monoculture, you are at great risk of perishing. Therefore the recreation of Neanderthals would be mainly a question of societal risk avoidance.”

This is true from an evolutionary perspective. Greater diversity is a hedge against cataclysm.

From an economic perspective this is not true, if diversity means having a greater population of those low in economic productivity.

If Neanderthals start underachieving in schools and workplaces, it must be institutional discrimination, so we’ll raise the bar further for Asian and European sapiens while lowering the bar for Neanderthals. We will pour money into intervening on Neanderthal child education, with each failure signifying the need for more intervention at earlier ages with greater amounts of money funded by sapiens. If sapien males don’t find Neanderthal females attractive, we’ll shriek about Euro-sapien-centric notions of beauty and say nasty things about sapien males who don’t happen to fancy Neanderthal females.

If Neanderthals somehow start overachieving in schools and workplaces, we’ll start heightening the required criteria for them. We can rationalize this by blaming their overachievement on Tiger Mom-ing that causes inflated test scores, even though test scores are strongly and positively associated with IQ and achievement, and twin adoption studies reveal parenting matters very little.

Diversity is fun.

Highgamma January 21, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Do these guys really think that Homo Sapien is a monoculture and that we have bred ourselves to such an extent that we all share some fatal flaw that could wipe out our species with a single, non-man-made disease? The issue of monoculture in agriculture is quite real; however, even a pandemic would likely leave a substantial number of Homo Sapiens as survivors. The increase in inter-racial relationships (which creates even more genetic diversity) is probably doing more to help in this matter than any possible help we can get from the Neanderthals.

Brian Donohue January 21, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Exactly!

I wonder if this is the thought process:

1. Human biodiversity is low to nonexistent. We know this because it’s a sensitive postulate and accepting this postulate is a mark of one’s couth.

2. Ahh! Monoculture.

3. Neanderthals- Yes!

Millian January 21, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Cowen needs to be less precious and more upfront about his true beliefs.

Jacob AG January 21, 2013 at 2:18 pm

+1

Norman Pfyster January 21, 2013 at 5:36 pm

I think he just outed himself as a Republican, because only Republicans exhibit anti-science prejudices.

Willitts January 21, 2013 at 8:59 pm

And Pfyster scores off the rebound.

Turkey Vulture January 21, 2013 at 2:20 pm

If you favor protecting currently extant cultures, or animals, to protect cultural or bio-diversity, this seems like a logical follow-on.

Eli January 21, 2013 at 2:48 pm

+1

Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Haven’t you seen Prometheus?!?

Turkey Vulture January 21, 2013 at 5:32 pm

No, a 43 minute TV show maxes out my attention span. But if it involved cloning a million Neanderthals, giving them some land, a flag, and some guns, and waiting to see what happens, I’d watch it.

dead serious January 21, 2013 at 7:29 pm

Neanderthal Mafia. Or something.

Amasa Amos January 22, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Except that adding a new species to an ecosystem quite often has the effect of *lowering* diversity, not increasing it. Look at Australia and all those dang rabbits.

ArikSharon January 21, 2013 at 2:23 pm

My assumption is that the learned scientist was speaking such absurdities because he suspected “diversity” was a magic word that ended arguments and made the speaker the victor.

Not sure how u could study Thal “culture” from cloning a few of them — isn’t culture communicated thru family and society, of which there are none?

anon January 21, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Party pooper.

Ed Regis January 21, 2013 at 2:24 pm

I guess we’re supposed to read Cowan’s mind as to why this set of statement is “outrageous and indefensible,” as he provides no explanation whatsoever for his pique.
It is not a misquotation. Church’s rationale for the views expressed here can be found in his book: George Church and Ed Regis: Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves (Basic Books, 2012).

By the way, this is the first book to be encoded (text and images) in DNA:
http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/08/20/the-first-book-to-be-encoded-in-dna/

Nick_L January 21, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Isn’t this something along the lines of “If Paul Krugman didn’t exist, we’d have to invent him..?”

Would Neanderthal economists pose a threat to the established economists? Although perhaps lacking in sophistication, one can’t help but think that they would win most of the arguments at the conferences. One way or another. Any bets on which group would become extinct first, the saltwater’s or the freshwater’s?

IVV January 21, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Depends on how they taste in broth.

Willitts January 21, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Without Krugman, liberals wouldn’t have a conscience.

Brian January 21, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Concern with the Neanderthal proposal seems to only scratch the surface. Read the whole article (the link was omitted – 1). The sentiments he expresses throughout are consistent with those quoted. Church is proposing to re-engineer humans, to create sub-species and sub-sub-species with various traits. Including species resistant or immune to naturally-occurring viruses (what impact would that have on our microbiome? – 2), until someone like Church takes his DNA synthesizer and engineers a virus specifically for that sub-species. And this species-modulating technology will be widely available, once developed (which will be longer than the article seems to suggest). The promise and peril both seem huge, but it is hard to see how we have a world which resembles anything like our current one once these technologies become widely distributed. Perhaps that is the point.

1) http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/george-church-explains-how-dna-will-be-construction-material-of-the-future-a-877634.html
2) http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/10/22/121022fa_fact_specter

Claudia January 21, 2013 at 3:45 pm

did you really just loosely compare immigrants to Neanderthals? see when your thoughts are immersed in your hobby horse it’s easy to say outrageous things. yes, of course there’s a lot of connecting intellectual arguments missing in Church’s statements, but a Spiegel interview is not that much more evolved than a blog post, so what did you expect? also not sure why I am supposed to be excited about em’s and cyborgs and deathly afraid of pre-historic man.

Andrew' January 21, 2013 at 4:23 pm

I agree, there is no comparison, they have almost nothing in common and are likely to vote Republican.

maguro January 21, 2013 at 4:46 pm

The cyborgs or the Neanderthals?

MD January 21, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Neanderthals didn’t handle change well, so I would assume they would vote Republican.

dead serious January 21, 2013 at 7:32 pm

Neanderthals seem more likely to be aligned with the Tea Party.

Grunting short slogans ad nauseum seems about all they can handle. Tea Partiers, I mean.

holier then thou January 21, 2013 at 4:19 pm

OMG, Stop the Presses!

Apparentely a Cathedral cheap chulupas flunky who makes a living trying to destroy his own culture so he can claim the title of “holier then thou” and be paid a sinecure by monied interests to lecture everyone about how traditional morality is terrible just HATE HATE HATES that some other Cathedral flunky has taken his holier then thou nonsense even further to a point that even causes even him to recoil in terror.

This post Christian status whoring must be getting exhausting. You know the problem with being part of the outer party is they are always changing the goal posts and never tell you.

Urstoff January 21, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Are you sure you’re in the right place?

NAME REDACTED January 21, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Yes. He spoke directly to the article.

Thor January 22, 2013 at 3:18 am

Yes but unfortunately he spoke “Neanderthal-ese”.

MD January 21, 2013 at 6:37 pm

If I’ve said that once, I’ve said it a thousand times.

Willitts January 21, 2013 at 9:05 pm

I hate when people beat me to the Submit button.

Which, on reflection, makes this an Islamofascist website.

BC January 21, 2013 at 4:55 pm

First, if we’re going to bring any extinct species back, it should be dinosaurs, not Neanderthals. It takes a little more effort, requiring one to reverse-engineer a dinosaur from an ostrich, but we would end up with a nice theme park.

On a more serious note, although the cavalier way in which Church talks about creating new species and bringing back extinct species may be alarming, if you read through the entire interview about what is possible or could soon be possible from “synthetic biology”, it brings the entire notion of Great Stagnation into question.

Henry January 21, 2013 at 4:58 pm

The term “diversity” is generally misused. It needs the qualifiers “novel” or “local” to capture what people actually mean when they say “diversity”. A better term for this might be “heterosity” – novel diversity in a local area.

This sort of “diversity” – increasing novel diversity in local areas – actually reduces genuine diversity.

Anon January 21, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Based upon his history of posts on this blog, Tyler is just about the last person I’d considered qualified to make ethical judgements.

Ritwik January 21, 2013 at 5:50 pm

I understand the analytical error here, of trying to *create* diversity by fiat. But why’re the set of *sentiments* morally indefensible?

For once, would really appreciate if you were completely upfront about your views here.

Matt January 21, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Add me to the chorus of “Tyler, have the courage of your convictions!” Occasionally this snarky innuendo is thought-provoking, but usually it’s completely mystifying: in what way is it outrageous? What are you comparing it to? Why does immigration have anything to do with it? I don’t doubt you have an argument to make here, but for god’s sake, make it, or just leave the goofy little MSTK3000 commentary out of your posts.

J D January 21, 2013 at 6:45 pm

This is excerpted from a Rand novel, yes?

David January 21, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Tyler just wants to maintain a separation between Church and State.

Ahem. Cough. Silence in the hall for half a minute….

londenio January 21, 2013 at 6:51 pm

1. We, humans, are trying to deal with the diversity we already have. This is not a good time to make things more complicated. You see communities distrusting other communities because they speak a relatively a language with relative minor variations.
2. There is really nothing to learn from the Neanderthals. They could not cook, apparently. Some think this is the reason they perished. They will not start ethnic restaurants in strip malls that would feature in future editions of the Economist Gets Lunch

Willitts January 21, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Every human knows that the first thing we must do upon meeting a new species is to learn how to kill it.

After learning how to kill it, we learn how to enslave it and insult it. Then we begin to feel guilty and hire it into management positions.

mkt January 21, 2013 at 11:51 pm

In addition to not cooking, some economists theorize that they didn’t trade either, at least not nearly as well as homo sapiens did.
http://newswise.com/articles/did-use-of-free-trade-cause-neanderthal-extinction

Anyway, the notion that we could learn about neanderthal culture or neanderthal thinking from this experiment is a crock. The proposed cloned neanderthal would have to be born into and raised by a neanderthal family speaking a neanderthal language for us to learn about neanderthal culture and thinking. Raising the proposed infant in the 21st century merely gives us another 21st century human, quite possibly with lower intellectual capacities. What would we learn from that experiment? (To say nothing of the way that it violates fundamental human rights not to be involuntarily subjected to experimentation.)

Yog Sothoth January 21, 2013 at 7:00 pm

I read the interview. He’s not talking about genetic diversity and using Neanderthal genes to do eugenics. He’s talking about COGNITIVE diversity and the idea that Neanderthals may think differently from homo sapiens in a way that is useful. I don’t think I’m persuaded but I do find the argument interesting. What if Neanderthals have lower social intelligence but better spatial reasoning, or something like that? Given the existence of a division of labor, that can only work to our advantage as a species. Tyler has made a similar argument about autism spectrum people. It seems trivially obvious that it would also apply here. There are a lot of good arguments against birthing a cohort of Neanderthals, but I think this is a perfectly reasonable and defensible argument to make in favor. And I’m glad I read the interview.

Willitts January 21, 2013 at 9:09 pm

So they didn’t really die out. They just invented time and space travel and left.

infovore January 21, 2013 at 7:51 pm

I, for one, am excited at the potential for new innovation in racial slurs that Neanderthals present.

Rob Grant January 21, 2013 at 8:00 pm

There was a nice little story based on exactly this idea on Escape Pod a couple of years ago. A lot of the above points came up ifrc
You can still listen to the story, free as information beer, here http://escapepod.org/2009/05/07/episode-198-n-words/

mkt January 21, 2013 at 11:45 pm

Isaac Asimov had this idea decades ago, with his short story “The Ugly Little Boy”.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ugly_Little_Boy

I’m with Tyler (and Asimov). The proposed experiment is unethical on its face. Have you never heard of informed consent? The notion of forcing a human being to undergo an experiment without their consent should fill us all with revulsion. It’s one of the fundamental human rights.

Simone Simonini January 22, 2013 at 11:58 am

Every time a child is born we perform a similar experiment. No one consents to be born, yet anti-natalists are considered just as weird as Neanderthal revivalists.

Walt G January 21, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Let a thousand hominins bloom.

efp January 21, 2013 at 9:10 pm

” The main goal is to increase diversity.” I thought the main goal was a new genre of porn. There is no great stagnation!

de Broglie January 21, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Non-Africans have around 2% neanderthal DNA in there genome. The mixing occured with the “out-of-Africa” cohorts of humans because Neanderthals lived in Europe and western Asia. Europeans have the highest percentage of Neanderthal DNA and Africans have the lowest percentage.

Tyler Cowen January 21, 2013 at 9:30 pm

How much torture to the victims is involved in the process of learning how to do the cloning? How well do we humans treat other species? How will Neanderthals fare if they are ZMPers in a modern economy? And so on.

de Broglie January 21, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Europeans and Asians are very productive people, and they are part neanderthal. I would expect Europeans would stick up for Neanderthal rights like Benjamin Jealous sticks up for African-Americans.

Rahul January 22, 2013 at 12:23 am

Lab study specimens often get slaughtered after the experiment. We never have to worry how a mutilated chimpanzee fares after release into the real world.

A Berman January 22, 2013 at 7:21 am

The notion that any individual is more important than scientific exploration requires a belief that individuals are important. There is, of course, no scientific proof that people matter. It requires faith, which is missing from many academics. Getting published, however, does matter.

Neanderthal American January 22, 2013 at 12:53 am

We want justice and equal opportunity! Now!

Diversity with diversity coordinators.
Affirmative Action.
Reparations from the white men for driving us into extinction.
A seat on the Supreme Court.
A Senator or two.
Quotas for higher education and jobs.
Our own homeland, preferably the continent of Europe.

anon January 22, 2013 at 7:29 am

Clearly a Neanderthal. Not thinking big enough.

Neanderthal American January 22, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Just wait. I haven’t even been cloned yet.

We already have a few Community Organizers. We are looking for a few good lawyers. Do you know any?

Donations are welcome, too…

Abelard Lindsey January 22, 2013 at 2:02 am

This is directed to Tyler Cowen himself. Why do you want our population to go up to 500 million? What is the benefit of having nearly 200 million more people than what we have now. Our cities (and highways) are already crowded enough. They would be much more crowded with an additional 200 million people. Travel to nice places (Hawaii, Caribbean, Mexico. etc.) would be more expensive, not to mention housing costs in desirable locations (e.g. where its warm year-round). I’m not certain having an additional 200 million people would increase productive accomplishment and standard of livings that much. Housing costs would be higher, relative to income, in most places with such an increased population. Bear in mind we landed men on the moon with a population of only 200 million people (about 2/3′s of today’s population). Robotics, automation, and increased technological innovation in general will make it easier for smaller groups of people to do what only large corporations and governments can do today. This increased productive capability argues for less population, not more.

I would like to know what you think the benefits of an extra 200 million people here in the U.S. are.

Marian Kechlibar January 22, 2013 at 2:36 am

Dogmata must not be questioned by reason.

It is obviously VIRTUOUS to establish several North American equivalents of Sao Paulo, with 20+ million people in shacks, because the infrastructure cannot be scaled up that quickly, and possibly not at all (consider all the environmental regulations). Then you have both source of cheap labor & an army of new proletariat. Both the Right and the Left win! (Everyone else loses, but that is another story).

Rahul January 22, 2013 at 3:04 am

Who said it has to happen ‘quickly’? Tyler?

Do people live in shacks everywhere that has a higher population density than the US? Do people never live in shacks where the density is as low as the US?

anon January 22, 2013 at 7:27 am

Highest population density, 2010, top 10:
Macau
Singapore
Hong Kong
Bahrain
Malta
Bermuda
Maldives
Channel Islands
West Bank & Gaza

londenio January 22, 2013 at 5:13 am

You are also increasing domestic demand, and the incentives to innovate. And bring talent, in expectation. Among those 200 million you could have a Steve Jobs, an Elon Musk, a Jeff Bezos.

The population density of the US is 34 inhabitants/km^2. If you double that, you get to the population density of the state of Georgia, hardly an overpopulated place for world standards. Triple the population and you get to the population density of Spain (quite underpopulated for European standards). If the US had 6 times more inhabitants (1.9 billion), it would be as densely populated as Italy. I know these things don’t scale up linearly and all these regions have different natural resources, etc. I am just providing some perspective to show that nothing essential would change by doubling the population.

Andrew' January 22, 2013 at 11:47 am

But this is why I don’t understand why the opinion isn’t stated thus:

“America should allow more immigration…or other countries get their act together.”

Abelard Lindsey January 23, 2013 at 12:47 am

The argument in favor of population increase should demonstrate that average per capital income and standard of living will increase greater with the extra 200 million people than without. That is, that the majority of us will be materially wealthier with the increased population (and that it will be cheaper, relative to average income, to travel to or live in the nice places to boot) than we would be without the increased population. This is the ONLY legitimate argument in favor of the increased population. Can anyone honestly justify an increased population for any other reason? I hardly think so.

If the increased population does not make most of us materially wealthier, then we are far better off with the current population than the increased one.

Abelard Lindsey January 27, 2013 at 3:38 pm

“You cannot simultaneously have free immigration and a welfare state.”

Milton Friedman

Steve Sailer January 22, 2013 at 5:24 am

I’m for it. Let’s have more human biodiversity. Bring back the Tasmanians and Chatham Islanders, too.

uffy January 22, 2013 at 6:28 am

Huh?

If we can bring back species then we should do so if there is knowledge to be gained by doing so – which there obviously is in this case. Am I missing something?

Andrew' January 22, 2013 at 8:11 am

What knowledge? Knowledge is the only thing that it is obvious to pursue because we can?

albatross January 22, 2013 at 8:20 am

Isn’t this the same sort of argument someone would make for Brin style uplift of chimps and dolphins?

Careless January 22, 2013 at 11:54 am

Brin’s last book (Existence) actually covered this, humans being improved by bringing back Neanderthals and integrating with autistics and AI

Hazel Meade January 22, 2013 at 1:29 pm

I don’t see an ethical problem with creating a neanderthal just for the sake of scientific curiosity. I see an ethical problem with keeping said neanderthal locked up and/or doing experiments on him. If you give the neanderthal the same rights as a human child, you should be ok.
You could err on the side of caution by giving them the same rights as a human being and then as you gather data on their cognitive capacities scale it back.

Careless January 23, 2013 at 10:56 am

That’s exactly the problem. You’re creating a bunch of probable idiots that are human enough to get rights.

How much of a blank-slater do you have to be to think that prehistoric semi-humans will be a contributor to society?

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