The Viewpoint Diversity Experience

by on May 2, 2017 at 1:32 pm in Current Affairs, Education, Medicine, Philosophy, Political Science, Religion, Science | Permalink

That is a new project by Jonathan Haidt and the Heterodox Academy, here is a partial summary:

Heterodox Academy announces a simpler, easier, and cheaper alternative: The Viewpoint Diversity Experience. It is a resource created by the members of Heterodox Academy that takes students on a six-step journey, at the end of which they will be better able to live alongside—and learn from—fellow students who do not share their politics.

It’s a very flexible resource that can be completed by individuals before they arrive on campus, presented in an orientation-week workshop, or expanded into a full semester course that students can take during their first year. (It could also be helpful in high schools, companies, religious congregations, and any other organizations that are experiencing sharp political divisions and conflicts.)

…The site is still under development: we welcome feedback and criticism. We particularly seek out professors, high school teachers, and diversity trainers who will partner with us to develop detailed teaching plans and activities. We will have a larger public launch of the project in August, complete with assessment materials that will allow you to measure whether the curriculum actually increased political knowledge and cross-partisan understanding.

Do click on the site itself for a fuller explanation, and please help out if you can.

1 Anonymous May 2, 2017 at 1:49 pm

Step 3: Look inside the mind. Learn a little bit of psychology to see the tricks the mind plays on us, making us all prone to be self-righteous, overconfident, and quick to demonize “the other side.”

At once a problem, a business plan, a profit model, a path to winning elections. Can you say “lock her up?”

But sure, expose students to the meta and see how many can step back. Some will manage, no doubt. But sadly not all.

2 Thomas May 2, 2017 at 3:05 pm

“You are either a Hillary supporter or a nazi.”

3 Anonymous May 2, 2017 at 4:10 pm

The Venn diagram is left to the reader.

4 TMC May 2, 2017 at 9:39 pm

It’s called a circle.

5 Thiago Ribeiro May 2, 2017 at 1:51 pm

“the end of which they will be better able to live alongside—and learn from—fellow students who do not share their politics.”
Does it involve not talking about politics with own’s fellow students? I can see it working. Although I am glad to know learning and living with one’s fellow students takes half the steps fighting alcoholism does.

6 Ray Lopez May 2, 2017 at 3:02 pm

Yeah that’s right, nothing somebody as smart and successful (I was a millionaire before age 30) person like me can possibly lern from a fellow student. Seems like this site is a social media site is disguise.

7 Anonymous May 2, 2017 at 2:14 pm


If self-righteous, overconfident, and quick to demonization is a problem, we should not accept (and certainly not normalize) those who revel in it.

8 TMC May 2, 2017 at 9:44 pm
9 Anonymous May 2, 2017 at 10:15 pm

I think Hillary should have the good grace to disappear, but why on Earth would her sideshow “beat” the very real problems we face?

We have a broken government, all branches controlled by the GOP, and the president making bizarre statements about government shutdown.

Dudes, it is in you. Not Hillary.

10 TMC May 3, 2017 at 9:31 pm

‘Very real real problem’ is a non sequitur to your Fukuyama child rant link.

11 Joël May 2, 2017 at 2:23 pm

Interesting. But one can notice that all the thinkers and opinions presented as diverse share the same basic morality. I might have overseen them, but I haven’t seen any citation of Nietzsche, or of Hindu sacred texts justifying a cast system, or even of the anti-democratic Plato of the Republic.

In fact, studying these very foreign systems of thought would not only enrich the point of view of students, but could also help close the gap between Liberals, Libertarians and Conservative (the three groups addressed by the survey) by showing them how they agree on, essentially, everything — closing that gap being the aim of the whole “viewpoint diversity” project.

12 Picador May 2, 2017 at 4:50 pm

“Liberals, Libertarians and Conservative”

Exactly. For a bunch of guys who love talking about cognitive biases, they seem to have never heard of the framing effect.

Hell, why not educate students in how to be more accepting of all the different important political frameworks: alt-right, neoconservatism, white nationalism, paleoconservatism, neofeudalism, and conservative Christian fundamentalism.

“We play both kinds of music here: Country, AND Western!”

13 Anonymous May 2, 2017 at 10:17 pm

Yes, this is true. Like Gulliver’s little people we go to war in minor differences.

Remember the Bathroom War of 2016?

14 rayward May 2, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Haidt is very partisan in his approach to non-partisanship, but doesn’t seem to realize it. That’s okay. Those who don’t agree with him can learn a great deal from him.

15 Troll Me May 2, 2017 at 5:11 pm

Is anyone on the right promoting viewpoint diversity, except as an exercise to learn about the enemy? (FYI, that – viewing it as learning about the enemy – is not a very good mindset if you actually want to learn things, instead of just setting out on an exercise based on a premise that will cause little but your further indoctrination).

16 "Haidt" May 2, 2017 at 5:41 pm

If you take out “on the right” you’re basically making my point. Because you left “on the right” in, you’re still just playing the herd game.

17 Troll Me May 2, 2017 at 5:50 pm

OK. Except that the topic of conversation is inclusive of an example to the contrary.

I agree. It can go both ways. However, it seems worse in one direction than the other these days.

Are you aware of efforts on the political right to do things like “invite more voices to the table”? Because it seems to me that more effort is expended preventing people from even knowing which table is relevant, never mind how to have a place at it.

If there are good reasons to believe the problem is more in one direction than the other, this should be open for conversation.

18 Sam the Sham May 3, 2017 at 8:53 am

Yes, Nate, the far-right group known as Antifa, and the far-right college of Berkeley sure are famous for shutting down discussion of alternate ideas. The far-right NYTimes did, a few months ago, admit they were just cheerleaders instead of an open platform for ideas.

19 Troll Me May 3, 2017 at 11:05 am

That’s distraction, not a counterargument.

By virtue of which I declare being right. Because all you had was misdirection and not a counterargument.

I can actually answer my own question. But if I tried to explain, you might find out that you’re a left wing racist as not “alt right”.

20 Sam the Sham May 3, 2017 at 4:20 pm

Lol, wut? You can declare yourself a winner of a debate by ignoring recent valid evidence? Whodathunk!

Yes, Nate, I can think of several efforts of the right to invite more voices to the table. Usually a nonsensical protest from leftists to keep anyone from hearing anything is the result.

Steven Crowder is pretty good at inviting dissent, as far as celebrity rightists/leftists. Dave Rubin, on the left, is also amazingly good at just hearing all sorts of viewpoints, so it’s of course ‘not all leftists’. However, it’s not the Right that goes rioting whenever they hear something they disagree with. Surely you’ve been paying attention this past year or two?

21 Troll Me May 2, 2017 at 5:51 pm

The ability to identify a problem as more on “the right” than “the left” does not make the observer the source of the observation.

22 Anon May 2, 2017 at 7:04 pm

Even if that were true (evidence being what?), why would you bring that up? Just as an excuse to dismiss viewpoint diversity? “People I don’t like, don’t like viewpoint diversity, therefore… it’s worthless”???

23 Anon7 May 2, 2017 at 11:04 pm

Even if that is aim, there is always a possibility that one could change one’s mind after being exposed. Small steps toward a much better (less complacent) world.

The left is afraid to make their space unsafe.

24 Steven Kopits May 2, 2017 at 5:12 pm

“progressives, conservatives, and libertarians”, better framed as egalitarians, liberals and conservatives. ‘Progressive’ has a normative connotation. Egalitarian does not. People who ascribe to Adam Smith are liberals, not libertarians. And conservatives are, well, conservative.

I could give a killer econ lecture on this using principal-agent theory.

25 mulp May 2, 2017 at 6:38 pm

“But things began changing in the 1990s as the Greatest Generation (which had a fair number of Republicans) retired and were replaced by the Baby Boom generation (which did not).”

Why is that a problem for academia?

Why should the problems in the Republican Party, it’s rising intolerance, rising opposition to fact and reason based policy, it’s opposition to free speech, opposition to diversity, opposite to change, become a problem for universities and colleges which have always been agents of change, based on increased accumulation of facts, and reasoning from those facts to conclusions that are contrary to tradition, orthodoxy, and past “truth”???

And I find it odd that social advocacy positions strongly embraced by Republican party leaders in the 60s are now defined as “leftist”, so it’s the universities that have changed position by basically continuing to give those positions the same validity today that many Republicans did in the 60s?

Why isn’t the problem with the Republican party and allied groups, and colleges and universities are the one constant institutional solution Republicans need to learn fromore?

The Clean Water and Air Acts were passed in the 50s, 60s, and early 70s in large part with bipartisan support and opposition. The EIS was created by executive order by Nixon as his initial action of reorganizing the Federal government to consolidate environmental regulation under one umbrella, the EPA, though major parts ended up farmed out, eg, the Army Corp of Engineers.

NEPA passed the Senate unanimously, and passed the House with 208 Democrats,164 Republicans voting Yea, and only 8 Democrats and 7 Republicans Nay.

Does anyone think NEPA would pass today’s Congress? And if it passed, would it be “leftist” because 95% of Democrats would vote Yea and only 85% of Republicans vote Nay.

Thus the Democratic Party has moved “radically left” in the past four decades by still holding the same positions on policy today’s as in 1969???

26 TMC May 2, 2017 at 9:47 pm

” it’s rising intolerance, rising opposition to fact and reason based policy, it’s opposition to free speech, opposition to diversity, opposite to change, ”

Project much?

27 mulp May 3, 2017 at 2:35 am

On the 50th anniversary of the protest at the California legislature by the Black Panthers for Self Defense, I quote

Ronald Reagan was the Governor of California, he stated his view on guns in May of 1967 when Black Panther Party members walked into the California Statehouse carrying rifles to protest a gun-control bill. “There’s no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.”

Huey Newton in pamphlet “In defense of self-defense”, 1967

“… An unarmed people are slaves or are subject to slavery at any given moment. If a government is not afraid of the people it will arm the people against foreign aggression. …
… and in one sense only by the power of the gun can the whole world be transformed into the earthly paradise dreamed of by the people from time immemorial. …”

Which statement is conservative or on the right or Republican, and which is “leftist” or Democratic, today?

28 y81 May 2, 2017 at 10:18 pm

‘ social advocacy positions strongly embraced by Republican party leaders in the 60s are now defined as “leftist”’

Exactly. Republicans of the past, like Nixon and Everett Dirksen, took things gay marriage and abortion on demand as moral givens, no more open to question than the law of gravity. But lately, the radical far right extremists who have taken over the party of Dick and Ev call these fundamental, centuries-old American principles into question.

29 Troll Me May 3, 2017 at 11:12 am

2010s left wingers wrote 1960s Republican policy?

I knew the left had power beyond imagination, but really? That’s quite something.

30 Dan L May 2, 2017 at 8:42 pm

What if the”lack” of viewpoint diversity is partly because whole networks of religious colleges are explicitly limited to one viewpoint at all levels.

31 Art Deco May 3, 2017 at 8:30 pm

I live in a state with 360,000 enrolled at public colleges and universities, another 180,000 at private research universities, 21,000 at research polytechnics about 70,000 bulbous private institutions competing head-to-head with state institutions, another six-digit sum at private colleges with no religious bent at all, and about 20,000 at colleges founded by Catholic religious orders for whom ‘Catholic’ identity rubbish to scam the alumni. But you’re telling me that the evangelical colleges which enroll 2,000 people between them are the source of the problem. Thanks for your wisdom.

32 froginthewell May 2, 2017 at 10:46 pm

One way I learn to appreciate liberals better and be more tolerant of them is by reading slatestarcodex – basically because he is a liberal who makes a very serious effort – personally investing a very nontrivial amount of time – to understand and engage with conservatives all the way up to the alternate right.

One way my ability to appreciate the feminist side of liberalism diminishes is by reading Noah Smith or Tyler, who can’t resist taking stereotypical pot shots at men every now and then, such as:

33 collin May 4, 2017 at 1:50 pm

This seems to be conservative response to the Onion’s “I am a Trump Voter who read 800 or so pages on feminist gay theory video.”

Or college progressives would really understand the world better reading David Brooks columns.

34 collin May 4, 2017 at 1:54 pm

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