Tag Archives: social responsibility

Moral Diversity vs. Evaluative Diversity

The Righteous MindIn his most recent book, The Righteous Mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion, Jonathan Haidt (pronounced like “height”) reminds the reader at various points that he is telling his story in a roundabout way because typical readers would reject straight-up truth. The first four chapters are devoted to evidence that the average non-psychopath is irrational, able to learn truth only “in love” (as Ephesians 4:15 puts it). The Righteous Mind debuted at #6 on the New York Times best seller list for nonfiction hardcover, so, if you find it difficult to believe the claims in the summary below, you might want to try the roundabout version instead.

The Purpose of Division

Why are good people divided? Haidt devoted an entire chapter to defend the theory of group selection which entails that diversity will evolve if diversification is advantageous for groups. On page 365, Haidt summarized his conclusions about this advantage:

I suggested that liberals and conservatives are like yin and yang—both are “necessary elements of a healthy state of political life,” as John Stuart Mill put it.

In a similar way, bone cells and muscle cells are both necessary to the functioning of the human body, and it is for the good of the body that its cells divide and specialize.

To test the theory that diversification is advantageous for groups, one would want to compare the success of groups with different levels of diversity. Such evidence was collected by Douglas Wilde, a professor of design at Stanford University. His students divided into teams to develop designs submitted to intercollegiate competitions which were judged by blind-review. In some years, Wilde allowed students to form their own teams; in other years he forced them to team up with people who tended to think differently. Wilde, and the design professors who replicated this experiment at other colleges, found that forcing teams to be evaluatively diverse increased both internal conflict and win rates.

Instead of citing the research by the design professors, Haidt cited the research of Richard Sosis who found that the average religious commune founded in the nineteenth century United States was six times as likely as the average secular one to last over 20 years. Again, the research compared the success of different groups, but Sosis’ measure of success was longevity, while Wilde’s measure of success was win rate. Wilde’s measure would be irrelevant if we encountered a society that could survive well-enough with poor designs (i.e. had no competitors or environmental disasters pending to require rapid improvement of social designs).

The problem with Sosis’ research is that he did not manipulate or measure diversity. It is debatable whether the religious communes were more or less diverse than the secular ones. Communes are intrinsically anti-conservative—they are rebellions against the status-quo—yet religious communes have a commitment to norms. Thus, religious communes might be more likely to attract both liberals and conservatives, and it makes sense to expect them to be more diverse. Some of the greatest religious role-models created new norms while rebelling against the norms of their day (e.g. Muhammad, Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, Confucius), yet Haidt offers an explanation which implies that religious communes would be less diverse (pg 342):

A commune that valued self-expression over conformity and that prized the virtue of tolerance over loyalty… would have lower moral capital than a commune that valued conformity and loyalty. The stricter commune would be better able to suppress or regulate selfishness, and would therefore be more likely to endure.

In Wilde’s research, the superior teams had heightened internal conflict, but Haidt’s explanation of Sosis’ research implies that we should expect the opposite. This may just be an example of Haidt trying to tell the story in a roundabout way. The bottom line is that Sosis’ research would need to be repeated with actual measures of diversity. Until then, we have Wilde’s results to support Haidt’s final conclusion that diversity is advantageous.

Proximate Causes of Division

From an evolutionary perspective, one could say that the cells of our bodies specialize into diverse types because this brings advantages to the body as a whole, but it is also correct to say that cells specialize because they are genetically programmed to do so. Genes are a proximate cause. In a similar way, while Haidt points to group-selection as the ultimate cause of division, he also points to research indicating that genetic and physiological differences (products of evolution) predispose us to disagree with one another.

After summarizing some of the research described in greater detail in John Hibbing and Kevin Smith’s Predisposed: Liberals, Conservatives, and the Biology of Political Differences, Haidt attempts to navigate the controversial issue of how our natures interact with nurture. This comes to a head in the recounting of Keith Richards’ testimony that he became a liberal when he was betrayed by the choir master of his school (pg 330):

Richards may have been predisposed by his personality [and genes] to become a liberal, but his politics were not predestined. Had his teachers treated him differently… he could have ended up in a more conventional job surrounded by conservative colleagues and sharing their moral matrix.

Of course a sufficiently controlled environment can manipulate the typical person into developing values contrary to his/her own genetic predisposition. Haidt also mentions that sufficiently controlled environments can flip a switch he calls the “hive switch” to shift a person’s values temporarily. He discusses oxytocin regulation, but dopamine regulation and ego depletion would be other such switches. However, Haidt stops short of discussing what the costs of manipulating people’s values might be.

Assuming one were to manipulate an environment to promote conservativism, it would see a decline in liberalism. If this sufficiently unbalances the society, then, according to the theory Haidt quoted from John Stuart Mill, it would collapse like an unbalanced ecosystem. That is one example of a cost. It is a cost to the group.

But we should also consider the consequences for an individual like Keith Richards. How would he like to have values contrary to his predispositions? Would he be frustrated like a short basketball player, a gay person in a heterosexual marriage, or someone with high IQ who cannot access the Intenet? Keith Richards is the lead guitarist of The Rolling Stones—it is difficult to imagine him being so successful in that role without genes predisposing him against conservativism—how would it have felt not to exercise those genes? Here’s one theory:

Theory #1: In more tolerant environments, people are more likely to hold values which align with their genetic predispositions and those who have such alignment experience better mental well-being (e.g. greater engagement in their career, family and community, and less depression, apathy, guilt, and desire to commit suicide).

To test this theory, psychologists would measure the values, predispositions and mental-well-being of people in environments with different levels of evaluativism. The benefits of this research could be huge: if it confirms the theory above, we could use it to improve mental well-being for our children and grandchildren. Most of the people with jobs today are not happy with their jobs, and our own lives might not be so bleak if our grandparents had conducted this research. So we have to ask, “Why have no psychologists tested this theory?”

Haidt’s subtitle “Why good people are divided by politics and religion” seems to ask about the causes of intolerance. If it turns out that intolerance has such significantly negative health consequences, that discovering them would motivate us to be more tolerant, then it is fair to say we are intolerant because psychologists have not measured those consequences. Psychologists have determined that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and that gay youth facing anti-gay environments are more likely to attempt suicide, but this just a beginning to measuring the consequences of intolerance. Homophobia isn’t the only form of discrimination, and mental distress includes more than just suicide.

A 2014 study by Shanto Iyengar and Sean Westwood found that 80% of us, if asked to judge a scholarship competition, would discriminate against applicants with opposing values. That kind of discrimination is called “evaluativism” and the researchers offer every reason to believe it is pervasive, producing every manner of frustration. For the 13 years previous to that study, the only major study comparing kinds of discrimination was Haidt’s own study with Evan Rosenberg and Holly Hom. They found that people discriminate far more on the basis of values than on the basis of demographic differences, such as race, class and religion. His conclusion, in 2001, was that values diversity (which they called “moral diversity”) creates so much discrimination that it must be a bad kind of diversity.

In The Righteous Mind Haidt cited his 2001 study only in a footnote to his recommendation about how to make a team, company, school or other organization more “hivish, happy and productive” (pg 277):

Increase similarity, not diversity. To make a human hive, you want to make everyone feel like a family. So don’t call attention to the racial and ethnic differences; make them less relevant by ramping up similarity and celebrating the group’s shared values and common identity.

Again, Haidt implies that our aim should be to minimize internal conflict. As Haidt would predict, in years when Wilde didn’t draw attention to evaluative diversity, his students self-segregated and experienced less internal conflict. But the hivishness and happiness did not improve production; the consequence of self-segregation was inferior designs. Furthermore, if we do not raise awareness of evaluativism in awarding scholarships (and presumably jobs as well), Iyengar and Westwood’s research indicates the awards will be significantly and systematically biased. Aiming to minimize conflict is short-sighted.

Perhaps the worst tragedy to come from ignoring differences is implied by a 2009 twin study by Peter Hatemi, Carolyn Funk, Sarah Medland, Hermine Maes, Judy Silberg, Nicholas Martin, and Lindon Eaves which found that people’s values are less likely to align with their genetic predispositions while they remain in their parent’s homes. This does not indicate intentional discriminationparents are unaware of evaluative differencesyet even accidentally preventing one’s child from aligning with his/her genetic predispositions could diminish his/her mental well-being. What parent would want to remain ignorant of differences, if accepting those differences could save their child from wishing he/she were dead?

Again, the truth is so harsh that one can understand why Haidt might want to soften the blow. Would you believe a psychologist who told you that our failure to understand differences has made normal parenting is so oppressive that getting away from parents faster could save children from wanting to commit suicide?

Moral Diversity vs. Evaluative Diversity

Aside from his 2001 study, Haidt’s most important experiment may have been the development of the Moral Foundations Questionnaire (MFQ) which measures peoples beliefs that morality is about each of the following six values: Liberty/oppression, Fairness/cheating, Care/harm, Loyalty/betrayal, Authority/subversion, and Sanctity/degradation.

This research created a stir because moral psychology was previously dominated by the theory that there is one best moral type. As it turns out, people who rate themselves as politically conservative tend to consider all six values in their definition of “morality,” whereas people who rate themselves politically liberal tend to emphasize Care/harm and discount the last three values, and people who rate themselves as libertarians tend to emphasize Liberty/oppression and discount the last four values. Thus, the MFQ demonstrates that political types are moral types. Since it is unacceptable to conclude that one political type is better than the others, the dominant theory moral psychology was overturned.

In chapter 8, Haidt admits that his list of values might not be complete; in fact, one of the six values was not on the original list, so it has already been revised once. Given what we know about GRIN types, one might think the next revision should be to add “Originality/orthodoxy” and “Effectiveness/ inefficiency.” While some people do value original ideas and effective strategies, it is debatable whether the value qualify as “moral.” For example, the debate over whether the ends justify the means may be seen as a debate over whether Effectiveness is a moral value.

As part of his roundabout story-telling, Haidt saves his own definitions of morality and moral capital until the last two chapters:

Moral capital refers to the degree to which a community possesses interlocking sets of value, virtues, norms, practices, identities, institutions, and technologies that mesh well with evolved psychological mechanisms and thereby enable the community to suppress or regulate selfishness and make cooperation possible.

The values of Originality and Effectiveness do not necessarily suppress selfishness, so they would not qualify as “moral” values by this definition. They would probably qualify, however, under Ayn Rand’s definition of “moral.” Does Haidt have a scientific basis for dismissing Rand’s perspective? Haidt admits that Loyalty, Authority, and Sanctity do not qualify as “moral” by liberal definitionsdoes he have a scientific basis for dismissing the liberal perspective as well? To the contrary, Haidt concludes that the diverse perspectives are interdependent, so he is painted into a corner.

Haidt describes himself as a liberal who wants to understand conservatives on their own terms, so it makes sense that he would accept a conservative definition of “morality,” and it makes sense that this definition would produce a survey instrument that focuses on conservative values. Reaching across the isle is noble. However, a partisan definition is still a partisan definition, even if entertained by a psychologist from the opposing party.

The advantage of the term “evaluative diversity”  over “moral diversity” is to escape the non-scientific bias that will necessarily result from having to define “moral”. All values are evaluative, whether they are moral or not. Thus, evaluative diversity includes Liberty/oppression, Fairness/cheating, Care/harm, Loyalty/betrayal, Authority/subversion, Sanctity/degradation, Originality/orthodoxy, and Effectiveness/inefficiency (and perhaps more).

Unfortunately, there is no field of “evaluative psychology.” The field Haidt inherited and now leads is called “moral psychology”and that isn’t his faultso he finds himself asking people “Is it [morally] wrong for a brother and sister to have sex?” Depending on their own definitions of “morality” (or whether they even bother to have one), some people may find such questions nutty. I’m not God—why ask me? However, Haidt has already revolutionized his field. Asking him to strike the word “moral” from its name might be asking too much.

A Recall on Moral Education

Sometimes the products we buy turn-out to be better than we expected,

… and sometimes they turn-out to be worse.

By Ragesoss (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsOn rare occasions when products turn-out to be so much worse than expected that they actually damage their owners, we issue a product recall. For example, in 2004 Merck announced a recall of the anti-inflammatory drug, Vioxx, because a new study found that Vioxx promotes strokes and heart attacks. As another example, we are now told that orange juice is one of the foods health conscious people ought to moderate. Rather than a recall issued by orange-juice-makers, this recall came as a reversal in the recommendations of dietitians.

Moral education is another market where errors can be made. Beliefs distributed through moral education are products, and it is possible to teach dangerous beliefs. For example, it was once taught that left-handedness should be avoided and that conflicts should be resolved via duels. Those teachings needed to be recalled. This essay considers the possibility of another recall to respond to evidence that moral education causes evaluativism.

The Complaint Against Moral Education

We should start by considering a special problem with implementing a recall on moral education. Recalls are typically justified by new scientific discoveries, but aren’t morals matters of opinion, or, at worst, theological matters beyond the scope of science? Even if moral education does cause evaluativism, who’s to say it shouldn’t?

The complaint against moral education is not based on scientific evidence that one option is more moral than another—rather, it cites evidence that moral education messes with the brain in such a way that it limits humans from recognizing what is moral. Mind-control and manipulation are within the scope of science, so science can justify a recall on moral education if it finds that moral education is a kind of mind-control.

In this case, the relevant scientific evidence is that:

  1. Humans have moral disagreements,
  2. Rather than reflect mere differences of opinion, these disagreements sometimes reflect physiological differences such as genes and brain structure (a.k.a. “evaluative type“),
  3. Some of the evaluative types are interdependent
  4. Some man-made environments are optimized for people of specific evaluative types, thus discriminating against people of other types (this is a form of “evaluativism”)
  5. Like many other forms of discrimination, evaluativism is currently out of control
  6. Evaluativistic environments impact the chemistry of the brain, causing people of various types to experience depression, apathy, lack of self-control, and other limitations to moral faculties
  7. Modern centers of moral education produce evaluativism that divides interdependent types

The complaint against moral education is premised on these findings—if you conduct research which disconfirms the findings, the complaint is withdrawn. The paper linked above suggests that moral education can be reformed, such that it no longer produces evaluativism, divides interdependent types, and handicaps our collective moral faculty. New scientific work would be required to prove reform has succeeded; a recall is what to do while waiting for that proof.

The Scope of the Recall

If moral education is counterproductive—if it is actually hurting us—then we should stop engaging in it until it is reformed. That’s a recall. Recalls are stopgap measures. For example, once we find a way to mitigate the dangers of orange juice, then the recall will be lifted and we will be free to drink as much orange juice as we like. Reasonable efforts to test potential reforms are exceptions to a recall. For example, if someone develops tiny robots that regulate sugar in our bloodstreams, someone will need to drink orange juice while using these robots to determine whether they succeed in mitigating the dangers of orange juice drinking. Testing efforts which do not include measurement, however,  do not qualify as exceptions to a recall.

In addition to being temporary—limited in duration—recalls are limited in scope. For example, the recall on orange juice is not a recall on all liquids. There are fairly clear boundaries on what qualifies as “orange juice” for the sake of the recall. The discovery which justifies the recall on orange juice is about liquid calories, so the recall extends to all sugary drinks (including soda and other juices), but does not extend to oranges, vitamin C tablets, or the use of orange juice in a marinade.

The scope of “moral education” for the recall justified by the evidence discussed above includes only attempts to teach people to form independent moral judgments. When we teach people to specialize in a mere aspect of moral decision-making, we may actually support interdependence between people of different specialties. For example, one might teach someone to predict consequences, but to rely on others to determine which of the predicted consequences is best. Likewise, one might teach someone how to follow best practices, or to empathize, or to innovate, but to rely on others to complete other aspects of moral decision-making. When we imply that everyone should develop all the skills, or that not all skills are needed (e.g. that one can get by with mere best practices, or empathy, or innovation), we are implying that everyone ought to be able to engage in moral decision-making independently.

Teaching people to form independent moral judgments is like teaching neurons to live without the help of bone cells, muscle cells, and all the other interdependent cells of the body. That would be counterproductive education because abandoning the rest of the body and setting-out on its own would be hazardous for the neuron. It would also be hazardous for neurons to set out in groups. That’s analogous to what people do when they become convinced that they can form good moral judgments without the help of people of other evaluative specialization—they set out with people of their own type. Conservatives group with other conservatives, and liberals group with other liberals. That’s evaluativism. The recall on moral education ends when measurements demonstrate that moral education no longer produces evaluativism.

An Example: Churches

This article concludes with a description of how such a recall would look in churches. First, it needs to be said that the recall does not target churches—moral education also takes place in secular schools, workplaces and families. Second, church includes many other activities including fellowship, worship, charity, and ritual. Third, to boycott churches would be an evaluativistic form of moral education, teaching by example to segregate attenders from non-attenders.

All that said, churches are one of the leading centers of moral education and segregation in the United States, even though the bible explicitly informs Christians that we are evaluatively interdependent like the parts of a body, that we develop moral competence together, rather than as individuals. Christians generally believe that Christ opposes discrimination (especially against genetic traits), and churches have a rich history of fueling reform efforts. Moreover, Christians generally do not doubt that reform is needed in churches.

Although a recall of moral education would not include a boycott of churches, it might require churches to fail to meet the expectations of certain “customers.” One reason to become a “customer” of a church is to protect one’s legacy by instilling one’s own values in the people who will inherit that legacy. Customers with that motive would be inclined to “shop” for a church where they could bring their family to witness a preacher condemn evaluative types contrary to their own and see a room of people nod in agreement. Such a person might even settle for a church that seems to affirm their evaluative type simply by not criticizing it (i.e. to protect oneself from having one’s family exposed to opposing churches). In either case, the customer expects the church to help them influence the values of the guests they bring. Under a recall, churches would refuse to meet that expectation. Any church which delivers the expected mind-control services would be violating the recall.

“Don’t accuse me of ‘mind-control’ or even of having a ‘legacy’,” Christians might object. “I am merely expressing appreciation for the truth I inherited.”

For many Christians, this is an honest objection that should be acknowledged, but the fact that some people shop for church undermines the theory that churches merely preserve truth. If we were not trying to propagate our own values regardless of whether they happen to be true or not, then we would join whichever church is closest and debate there until the truth won out. Once churches have measurably demonstrated that they can teach morals without producing evaluativism, they will be free to resume their preservation of moral truth, for they will have untangled truth-preservation from the mind-control services sought by legacy builders.

I do not believe that mind-control is the dominant motivation for most Christians, nor for churches. I think that most of us see no biblical justification for “church shopping,” and that any mind-control which takes place in our churches is an accidental side-effect we would gladly see expelled. We agree with the Qur’an where it says “Let there be no compulsion in religion” and with the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution which protects religious freedom (even of our own children). However, to suspend moral education would frustrate any church members who want to establish their own values in others. We need to acknowledge that pre-existing mess, so the clean-up crew doesn’t get blamed for any unavoidable division that results from clean-up.

The other major difficulty with implementing a recall of moral education in churches can be the subtle ways in which moral education takes place there. When a pastor preaching a sermon tells the congregation precisely how moral judgments should be made, when the pastor declares that no one should be ambitious, or legalistic, or subjective, or questioning, when the pastor points to politicians with some such attribute and instructs the congregation to vote against them, it is obvious that the preacher is engaging in moral education. However, moral education in churches is often more subtle.

My own pastor pointed to the book of Hebrews as an example of that subtlety. He said that the book of Hebrews has a conciliatory tone, that it simply lays out a set of facts and leaves the listener to draw their own conclusion about how those facts should impact their moral behavior. No one would doubt that the book of Hebrews aims to convince people to change their moral behaviors, but any book, sermon or hymn with such subtlety makes its claims about morality indirectly. Thus, any misinformation about morality it produces would be lies of omission.

Rather than say that no one should be ambitious, a subtle pastor might teach about a scripture that exposes a weaknesses of the ambitious evaluative type (every type has weaknesses—that’s what makes them interdependent). The pastor might explain indisputable facts about the context in which that scripture was first heard and how it would have been understood in its original language. The pastor might never say, “All of you should avoid ambitious decision-making—do not elect ambitious people,” and might not even directly claim that the scripture should be followed. The pastor will not deny that there are many other scriptures to consider. Yet many people of the congregation will hear a moral lesson loud and clear. It is moral education by omission.

Education by omission can happen in hymns and rituals as well. I know of a thriving church that is so concerned that the ritual of communion will convey the wrong message that they always preface it by explaining that no one should feel pressured to participate. It would be nice to be able to mark out the boundaries of the range of topics in which preachers can speak their mind without worrying about engaging in counterproductive moral education, but moral education in churches so often happens by omission that the only way to be safe is to preface each church service the way this church prefaces communion.

The preface might go something like this (pastors can work out their own versions—given that the preface is recited every week, they might also want have a written explanation prepared):

The Bible tells us, ‘Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.‘ You may have come here today to make teachers of me, of our liturgists, our choir, the hymn writers, and those who wrote and translated the Bible, so I need to warn you not to get the wrong idea. God made each of us different, so perfect teaching would require delivering different lessons to different people. We want to figure-out how to provide teaching like that and to confirm it works, but are not there yet. You will not get reliable teaching from us today. We will simply have to forgive each other for failing to be perfect as we worship and study together.

Without such a preface, members of the congregation will likely assume that the leaders of the service intend to engage in moral education. They will likely hear moral lessons where none were intended. At times, a leader may slip—he/she may forget about the need for reform or may grow impatient waiting for proof that reform has been accomplished—then this preface becomes their request for forgiveness. The need for forgiveness is inevitable because failure to discuss morality could delay reform, yet appropriate boundaries of such discussion will not be known until reform proves successful.

Finally, we must ask who should issue the recall. Should pastors create their own prefaces, should entire denominations compose standard disclaimers to be recited at each service, or should some external body, such as the government, warn citizens that churches promote evaluativism? A congregation might want all three. If the pastor volunteers their own preface, the church will experience no embarrassment when the denomination and government issue recalls as well, yet the higher-level recalls may be necessary because not every pastor will issue the recall locally.

Conclusion

Most people who developed and prescribed Vioxx had every good intention. When scientists discovered that it promotes strokes and heart attacks, no one thought any less of those who discovered it. Likewise, the well-intended efforts of moral educators in the past remain heroic, despite new evidence that their efforts turned-out to be counterproductive.

Once Vioxx was found to be dangerous, to continue selling it would have been wrong. It would have been wrong to say, “I’m going to keep prescribing Vioxx, because I don’t have the resources to test these claims about strokes and heart attacks for myself.” Those who distribute a product—even if they are giving it away for free—have a responsibility to follow-up on evidence that the product my harm its owners. In the case of tobacco products, this responsibility may have driven some people to quit their jobs.

When facing the discoveries cited above, it is natural to ask what they mean for moral educators. Hopefully, you will see that moral education can and will be reformed. Like orange juice, moral education is wonderful in many ways, so we are willing to invest in finding ways to mitigate its dangers. Yet, until reform has proven to mitigate the dangers of moral education, to continue with moral education as usual would be immoral. This article aims to avoid overreaction. It discusses the limits of a recall on moral education, and proposes ways to minimize inconvenience while waiting for proven reform.

Who Would Call Themselves “Evaluativists”?

There is a big difference between racists and self-declared racists. Most racists (which includes most people) do not realize they are racists, nor would they voluntarily accept the label. Likewise, as realistic examples of typical evaluativists, we have cited Cecil of Lee Daniels’ The Butler, the 80% of scholarship judges in Shanto Iyengar’s experiment found to discriminate on the basis of values instead of merit, and the subjects for whom Jennifer Mueller was able to manipulate business decision-making by manipulating their values. The experimenters confirmed that the evaluativism in these cases was not intentional; they didn’t realize they were behaving as evaluativists. Since the consequences included broken families, missallocated scholarship funds, and low-quality business decision-making, we might expect the experimental subjects would want to understand and correct their evaluativism.

Image attributed to Tobias But do people really want to correct their own biases? One cannot be blamed for what is beyond his/her control, and no one intends to be biased. At worst, failure to correct one’s biases reflects negligence, but one can hardly be convicted of negligence when it is not clear what it would take to eliminate those biases. Some people who claim to oppose evaluativism and racism may make that claim simply to escape blame. Like dealing with climate change, they may wait for someone else to tell them what to do about it, then complain that the proposal is impractical.

In my experience, people who would take responsibility for evaluativism are rare, and people who declare themselves “evaluativists” are of that caliber. Why else would they bother to take the stand that evaluativism either can’t or shouldn’t be eliminated? I’d bet they took responsibility for the problem, but turned to the dark-side because they found no other way out. If you are trying to solve the evaluativism problem, it might help to know what obstacles blocked your predecessors, so it is wise to examine the philosophy of self-proclaimed evaluativists.

This article examines three sets of authors who advocated for evaluativism:

These people seemed to have reached their positions independently, so it is interesting to note commonalities in their thinking:

All three sets of professors frame evaluativism as a solution to the ancient problem of epistemology: the problem of establishing genuine knowledge as distinguished from our other (unjustified) beliefs. The problem probably arose because the ancients found that they could collaboratively catch many of their errors by checking each other’s thinking. When this practice occasionally produced disagreements they could not resolve, the ancients wondered who was in error, and, if they were in error, which of their other beliefs were in error as well.

The ancients believed they were akin to gods in the sense of having viable independent minds, rather than realize they were mere parts of a larger knower such that some disagreements would be predictable based on the different functions of different parts (e.g. the liberal/ conservative divide). Had they been humble, they might have attempted to reverse-engineer the mechanics of the larger knower, so they could distinguish predictable disagreements from those that signal actual errors. Instead, the ancients came to one of the following three classical positions (a) we should doubt everything we think we know (“skepticism“), (b) we should count multiple sides of a disagreement as correct (“subjectivism“), or (c) we should keep fighting over who is correct until we all agree (“objectivism“).

All three positions are terrible. At some point, the relentlessness of the objectivist’s struggle becomes a waste, if not a counterproductive source of social strife. On the other hand, skeptics and subjectivists will not seek agreement, so they are less able to catch their errors. However, instead of acknowledging option (d), that we are parts of a larger knower which reduces error at the higher level by placing its parts in opposition (like attorneys taking opposing sides in a court), Field, Kuhn, Zachar, and Kendler framed evaluativism as the only alternative to the classical options.

The Philosopher

Field proposed evaluativism as the answer to the question of how one should justify such premises as “If Socrates is an old man, then Socrates must be a man.” Such premises are so pervasive that hardly any useful knowledge can be had without justifying them. A subjectivist might simply declare such beliefs justified, but Field rejected that approach (which he called “egocentric”) as chauvinistic. He also provided a list of reasons to reject several objectivist approaches, including making the point that we are surely justified in holding false beliefs if we have no access to better alternatives. He recommended that we declare our beliefs justified if and only if we evaluate them to be justified (i.e. “evaluativism”).

Evaluativism may be less-often chauvinistic than the egocentric approach because the evaluativist makes an actual and supposedly earnest effort to consider contrary perspectives. However, Field admitted that evaluativists with different values make different evaluations, so disagreement would persist and segregate. For example, he wrote: “In dealing with a follower of the Reverend Moon, we may find that too little is shared for a neutral evaluation of anything to be possible, and we may have no interest in the evaluations the Moonie gives.” In this example, supposing the Moonie is in error, the Moonie’s potential to catch the error as an evaluativist is so low that they would be in the same boat as subjectivists.

The Teacher

Rather than write about how people should think, Deanna Kuhn claimed to measure the following pattern in the way people actually do think:

  1. The least mature people claim that only one side in a disagreement can be correct (she labels them “absolutists” or “objectivists”)
  2. The next most mature people claim that all sides in a disagreement are equally correct (she labels them “multiplists” or “subjectivists”)
  3. The most mature people claim that multiple sides can be correct, but that one is more correct (she labels them “evaluativists”)

Kuhn’s later description of evaluativists as people who evaluate evidence according to their own personal values matched Field’s, but her measurement instrument did not match that definition: Evaluativists do not necessarily claim that multiple sides can be correct. Her instrument allowed only three categories, so one alternate explanation for her results would be that the most mature people resist siding with either objectivism or subjectivism, but do not necessarily side with evaluativism either. Kuhn never offered option (d), so her data cannot tell us whether the most mature people would pick (d) over evaluativism; nonetheless, it launched a new subfield of educational psychology which takes evaluativism as its gold-standard.

The Doctors

Zachar and Kendler did not pretend that evaluativism is an alternative to subjectivism—they contrasted it only with objectivism, and were concerned specifically with disagreements about what counts as mental illness. For example, consider the case of a patient who is depressed because he forgoes meaningful relationships in favor of working long hours to get promoted. The patient asks a doctor to prescribe anti-depressants and refuses any other lifestyle change or treatment. Before writing a prescription to resolve the depression, the doctor needs to determine whether the refusal to engage in other treatments reflects an illness that could be aggravated by being given the effective ability to self-prescribe.

The objectivist claims that there is a single correct choice, and we should eliminate disagreement; if some doctors would write the prescription in this case and others would not, then they should duke it out. In contrast, the evaluativist claims that each doctor gets to decide what counts as illness, so the only way for a doctor to make the wrong decision is to neglect to evaluate the situation (whatever that means to the doctor at the time). Where debates cannot be resolved, Zachar and Kendler conclude that doctors should be evaluativists—i.e. we should not designate controversial issues as deserving more intense examination. If patients can easily shift to a doctor willing to write a prescription, this would give patients the effective ability to self-prescribe in such cases.

It is tempting to suppose that self-declared evaluativists are simply unaware of the evidence that evaluativism produces exactly the sorts of harm they are trying to avoid (i.e. broken families, missallocated scholarship funds, low-quality decision-making, etc.). However, the self-declared evaluativists cited here are professors, highly intelligent people, and it is unlikely that they all made the same mistake purely coincidentally. Furthermore, they are not now warning other people from making the same mistake, engaging in tests to determine whether it was a mistake, examining the similarities of evaluativism to other forms of discrimination, nor testing the possibility that we are mere parts of a larger knower.

The God-Complex

It is more plausible that these self-declared evaluativists suffered from the same bias as the ancients: belief that we are akin to gods. The growing need to delegate decision-making to specialists, computers, or evidence-based protocols stands in tension with the still-believed myth that doctors should individually understand what they are doing. The need to accommodate belief in this myth could easily have prevented Zachar and Kendler from discussing the possibility that doctors are mere parts of a larger knower—that they ought to argue their sides in a court of medicine which establishes regulations under constant threat of appeal (this would quickly get so complicated that only computers would be able to prescribe medicine, leaving humans to be mere attorneys/ researchers).

The god-complex of Kuhn and her followers was made almost explicit in the name they gave their typology: “personal epistemology.” This name suggests that knowledge should be pursued at a personal level, in contrast with “social epistemology,” which investigates why persons should defer to larger knowers (e.g. markets, juries, electorates, doctrines, research fields). Only God can afford to discard social epistemology, but teachers (Kuhn’s audience) are still made responsible for educating particular individuals (i.e. paid per student), rather than for raising the general intellectual ability of society. Like doctors, teachers are expected to accomplish what no individual can accomplish.

Field’s audience, in contrast, would not condemn him for claiming that personal knowledge has limits; his audience celebrated Godel’s Incompleteness Proof and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Field could have concluded that he knows “If Socrates is an old man, then Socrates is a man,” in the same way a neuron knows that mass is conserved: it is part of a larger knower which reduces its error over time (i.e. to ask about the current knowledge of the neuron is to analyse the situation at the wrong level). Field instead insisted that he is an independent knower (like a god) apparently because his method consists in explicating what feels true, and we really do feel less interdependent than we actually are. The problem is that our feelings are misleading. For example, even though we think we oppose discrimination, Shanto Iyengar found that 73% of us have implicit racist biases and 80% have implicit evaluativist biases.

There are many situations in which our intuitions fail; for example, learning to drive a car backwards. At first, the student is distracted by an intuition which tells him/her to turn the wheel in the wrong direction. The student overcomes that distraction through science: running the experiment of turning the wheel in either direction and trusting the feedback (over intuition). Likewise, we overcome the intuition which tells us race is a good indicator of character by actually conducting the experiment of getting to know people of diverse races.

To overcome our intuitions that we have individually complete minds (like gods) and that it will be best to avoid people who tend to disagree with us, it may help to conduct the kinds of experiments Douglass Wilde conducted at Stanford. Wilde demonstrated that the teams which produce the best designs are those which have the greatest internal conflict due to diversity. But Wilde’s experiment does not provide a constant reminder that our intuition is misleading, like looking over your shoulder when driving backwards does. Like experiments that debunk our intuitions that the world is flat, or that time advances at the same pace for everyone, Wilde’s results are easily forgotten in practice.

To correct our bias, we may need constant monitoring of evaluativism and its impact on social success. Until that is achieved, even brilliant people may be inclined to move in exactly the wrong direction. It is dangerous for some people to drive a car without corrective lenses, and it is plausible that social leadership is similarly dangerous until we develop a way to correct our misleading intuitions. Leaders got by without such technology in the past, but new technologies give modern leaders opportunities to make errors that are less survivable.

The examples we have examined demonstrate that people who call themselves “evaluativists” are not necessarily unintelligent or uneducated. They deserve respect for bothering with the topic at all. Yet their conclusion is not supported by evidence—it stems purely from biases ingrained in our society and in our intuitions. Those who would oppose evaluativism should take heed: You are engaging in a war against the current mode of humanity, a war against our natural egocentric arrogance. Anyone unprepared to face that obstacle may end-up turning to the dark-side.

Military Applications of the GRIN Model

A social group’s ability to innovate is limited by its GRIN diversity, and the GRIN Model (Gadfly-Relational-Institutional-Negotiator) helps us to measure and manage that diversity.  Thus, if you think the goal of the military is to dominate others, then you might expect the primary military application of the GRIN model would be to reduce enemies’ capacities to innovate, while defending one’s own.

However, the goal of the military should not be to conquer everyone else, nor merely to defend oneself; the goal of the military should be to mitigate the motives for war.  In other words, the military and state departments share the same ultimate goal—the military is just more inclined to pursue it through technology.  This is the greater application of the GRIN Model: It allows us to understand the causes of war, and to end them.  That turns out to involve protecting and growing innovative capacity, especially among one’s enemies.

New concepts facilitate new science.  This post will demonstrate how new science, which thus far confirms the GRIN model, corrects misconceptions which previously led to inferior strategies for resolving conventional warfare and terrorism.  The post will then discuss how the GRIN model enables exploration and implementation of a potentially superior strategy for achieving the military endgame.

Conventional Warfare

Conventional warfare and terrorism have different causes.  The motive for conventional warfare resides in those of us who are natural negotiators (the ‘N’ of the GRIN model).  The essence of a natural negotiator—his/her moral imperative—is to grow wealth and power. In business, we say we “grow market share,” and we represent that share as a slice on a pie chart.  There are only two ways to grow a slice of the pie:

  1. Grow the entire pie through innovation, or
  2. Steal market share from competitors.

Conventional warfare is the process of engaging in this second strategy: stealing other’s share and preventing others from stealing your own.

It is unfortunate that people label this “greed” because the same motive—the growth motive—could instead grow the pie for everyone by advancing innovation; conventional warfare stems from a fundamentally good motive that is twisted by dysfunction in our innovation systems such that investment in competition becomes more rational than investment in innovation.  If the dysfunction were repaired and investment in innovation were proven to be the more promising path towards growth, then conventional warfare would no longer be motivated.  This is the ideal solution: All countries of the world innovating such amazing products and services that we all want to trade, rather than fight, with each other.

However, that is not the typical military response to conventional warfare today.  Instead, the successful response has been to make investment in competition less attractive by raising its cost.  This is a game of threats: Enemies do not expect to profit by attacking because they expect attacks to be met with retribution.  This response doesn’t actually allow others to profit through innovation, but it works because it makes competition unprofitable.

Most people are not natural negotiators, so they are less inclined to base decisions on profit, and they underestimate this cause of conventional warfare.  The naturally institutional, for example, allow institutions to guide their decisions.  Assuming that their enemy thinks likewise, they blame war on institutions.  By revealing that most people do not evaluate institutionally, scientific confirmation of the GRIN model reveals that any institution would be twisted to war.  It shows us that blaming Islam or Communism or Capitalism merely distracts us from the real causes of war.

People who are naturally relational do not think in terms of profit either.  They allow emotional bonds to guide their decisions.  Assuming their enemy does the same, they expect to end warfare by building emotional bonds across borders.  By revealing that most people do not evaluate relationally, the science confirming the GRIN Model shows that such bonds are not sufficient to prevent war.

Emotional bonding or destruction of contrary institutions could prevent war if everyone were forced to evaluate institutionally or relationally, but forcing everyone to think in the same ways would limit GRIN diversity.  We may instinctively believe everyone should think like ourselves, but the GRIN Model demonstrates that all four types are interdependent, such that society benefits from GRIN diversity.  Thus, the confirmation of this model helps us counteract that misleading instinct.

Terrorism

The motive behind terrorism is different from the motive behind conventional warfare.  Terrorism is sustainable only because people are willing to suffer personal loss for the sake of an ideal.  This motive resides in natural gadflies, rather than in natural negotiators.  The moral imperative of gadflies is to rebel against misapplied power, against injustice, hypocrisy, ineptitude, and imperfection.  Rather than aim for wealth and power, or the preservation of an institution, or love, they aim for the possibility of social progress.  Most, if not all, institutions originated through some revolution built on this motive.

Recently, we have called such revolutions “terrorism” because we realize (with terror) that the typical military response to conventional warfare does not mitigate gadflies’ motive to war.  In fact, the game of threats fuels terrorism.  Gadflies are enraged when market leaders use threats to secure their disproportionate shares of the pie.  Then terrorism allows negotiators to compete against market leaders indirectly—when a market leader is taken down by a terrorist, everyone else divvies the spoils—so disadvantaged negotiators compete (without retribution) by fostering an environment which promotes terrorism

Apple (when it was not the market leader) launched an advertising campaign appealing to natural gadflies: “Here’s to the crazy ones.  The misfits.  The rebels.  The troublemakers.  The round pegs in the square holes.  The ones who see things differently.  They’re not fond of rules.  And they have no respect for the status quo.  You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.  About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.  Because they change things.  They push the human race forward.  And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.  Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

It actually is possible for market leaders to prevent natural gadflies from changing the world.  However, not all natural gadflies will give up without a fight, so preventing world change ultimately requires waging a war against terrorism.  Steve Jobs didn’t have to resort to terrorism, but not all gadflies are so fortunate—especially not gadflies in third-world countries dominated by first-world countries.

As with conventional warfare, the naturally institutional and relational misunderstand the motives behind terrorism, and the GRIN model can correct this misconception.  Change is not central to the moral imperatives of non-gadflies, so they see no sense in the claim, “Terrorism is better than no change at all.”  Non-gadflies assume this claim is insincere, uneducated, or insane, so they do not expect to be able to end terrorism by opening alternate avenues for gadflies to explore change.  Scientific confirmation of the GRIN model reveals the fallacy of this assumption

Finally, the End of War!

The most significant application of the GRIN Model is to eliminate the motives for both kinds of war by making successful innovation easier.  Successful innovation requires four activities:

  1. Generation of novelty,
  2. Discerning better innovations from worse,
  3. Sustenance of proven innovations, and
  4. Network localization.

Each GRIN-type specializes in one of these activities.  Thus, innovation will be most successful where GRIN diversity is maintained.  Thus far, the results of experiments which manipulate the composition of design teams have been consistent with this theory.

Societies need all four kinds of people.  A society without gadfly evaluators would be dramatically less able to make paradigm-shifting innovations—it would get stuck in a rut.  A society without relational evaluators would tend to consolidate its power, thus dramatically decreasing the number of potential innovations it could entertain at once.  A society without institutional evaluators would be dramatically less able to retain successful innovations—it would have to keep reinventing the wheel.  A society without negotiator evaluators would be dramatically less able to distinguish good innovations from bad—its facility for innovation would wander aimlessly.

The secret to achieving higher rates of useful innovation is to protect GRIN diversity as one would protect biodiversity in an ecosystem.  At the most basic level, this involves measuring changes in diversity, and counteracting whichever conditions diminish it.  Inevitably, protection of endangered types involves conditions less-favorable for other types, so types naturally conflict, and societies which do not value their diversity tend to become dominated by people of one type who force others “into the closet”.

When facing an enemy which suppresses is own GRIN diversity, the first step may be to educate that enemy about the benefits of GRIN diversity.  Not only does protection of GRIN diversity lead to prosperity, but it is also compassionate and endorsed by enduring institutions.  The second step is to demonstrate ways one can protect GRIN diversity—show how successful techniques of GRIN diversity management have been implemented in your own nation, companies, families, and in those of allies.

The military endgame will have been achieved once we all know that we are (and always will be) interdependent.  That knowledge will lead those in power to empower others.  Competition will be replaced with innovation.  Thus, the ultimate military strategy is to accelerate the rate at which the GRIN model is encountered and tested.  Tactically, that includes research, building consensus among researchers, curriculum development, translation, and distribution.  Militaries already have competence with all of these tactics—it is just a matter of applying those competencies to general understanding of the motives behind war.

This material is cross-posted from the Peace and Collaborative Development Network

Microevaluativism and Macroevaluativism: A Romeo and Juliet tragedy

You’ve heard of microeconomics, which deals at the level of specific transactions (e.g. price-setting), and of macroeconomics, which deals at the level of entire economic systems (e.g. unemployment rate).  Discrimination also operates at the micro- and macro- levels, and tragedy befalls anyone who attempts to address one but not the other.

Romeo, Juliet, and CinderellaThe stories Cinderella and Romeo and Juliet provide classic examples of discrimination operating at these levels.  Romeo is a Montague, but Juliet is a Capulet.  At the macro-level, the Montagues and Capulets are segregated—they don’t have much opportunity to get to know each other, so they have to accept on faith that everyone from the opposing camp is ultimately bad.  However, Romeo and Juliet happen to fall in love.  When they discover each other’s identities, they must deal with discrimination on a micro-level, confronting their personal biases against people of the other kind.  They overcome discrimination at the micro-level, but not at the macro-level, so their love is doomed.

In contrast, Cinderella stories have happy endings (at least in versions following the popularization by Disney).  Again, two lovers come from socially segregated groups—different socioeconomic classes.  That’s the macrodiscrimination.  Again there is a necessary grappling with personal biases when their identities are revealed.  That’s the microdiscrimination.  The difference in the plot of Cinderella stories is that one of the lovers has so much social power that ending their microdiscrimination automatically ends the macrodiscrimination; if the prince will not discriminate against people like Cinderella, then neither can anyone else in the kingdom.

For macrodiscrimination to fall with microdiscrimination seems too good to be true.  They are typically two separate struggles which require separate solutions.  Microdiscrimination typically ends by achieving humility, but humility is achieved one person at a time, while macrodiscrimination is system-wide.  In contrast, macroevaluativism typically ends through institutional reform—for example, the end of macroracism required the abolition of slavery—but institutional reform is not sufficient to end microdiscrimination which continues even subconsciously in certain individual brains.

 

A More Realistic Scenario

For those who intend to overcome evaluativism (i.e. discrimination against people of different kinds of values), it is important to understand the difference between microevaluativism and macroevaluativism, and to appreciate the need to fight on both fronts.  Here’s a realistic modern example: Suppose you teach your daughter that education is valuable, and send her to a nice college where she meets a bright physics student, and they fall in love.  Her lover is a natural gadfly, and develops the opinion that college does not provide very good education—it exists mostly for dogmatic purposes that are wasting his youth—so, in his senior year, he drops out of school (like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg did) to join a start-up company.  His business has a remarkably good start, and the lovers get married.

Then the company hits some bad luck.  It struggles for about ten years before petering out.  Your son-in-law applies for other jobs as a scientist or engineer, but is disqualified because he did not complete his degree.  He applies for jobs unrelated to science, and is able to get some temporary and part-time work, but jobs are designed for particular IQ levels, and employers are reluctant to award full-time positions to anyone mismatched.  He becomes depressed.

The system seems to expect people of his IQ to have certain credentials, but getting the credentials requires much more than just taking an IQ test.  He cannot simply finish his senior year; college students quickly forget most of what they learned in school, so he would need to retake all his prerequisite classes as well.  These complications reinforce his conviction that his education had no educational value, and he cannot stand to subject himself to such hazing all over again, this time with eyes wide open and no scholarship or parental contribution to pay the bill.  He’s the kind of guy to stand against hypocrisy and injustice, not the kind to suffer them.

Your daughter is not naturally a risk-taker, but she overcame her bias against gadflies to fall in love with this man.  Now she is falling out of love.  Managing microevaluativism is an endless job—we say it has been “overcome” when the struggle gets easy, but it is always possible for the struggle to become difficult again.  She previously managed her bias through empathy, but empathizing with someone who is trapped makes her want his release, and it is exhausting to want what she cannot control.  Like most other human beings, your daughter’s brain is designed to stop empathizing when exhausted.  Her marriage has become a trap for her because being herself with her husband impacts her brain in a way that prevents her from being herself.

Your son-in-law doesn’t want to trap anyone, so he projects a front designed to minimize her pain; he enjoys life as much as he can while waiting for his big break to magically arrive.  They don’t talk about his career.  In fact, they don’t talk much at all.  Each has his/her own support-network of friends, and spends more and more time with those friends as things get worse and worse.  He comes home late each night.  They sleep in the same bed, but that’s about all the interaction they have.  It’s better than hurting each other.

You are part of your daughter’s support-network, and like everyone else in both support networks, you are fighting microevaluativism.  You struggle to convince yourself that this guy’s values are not messed-up, that they do not create an impasse, that the evaluative diversity of your daughter and son-in-law is a gift which brings strength to society and to their marriage.  You can make progress at accepting them both in your own heart, and that may help them to accept each other.

However, your son-in-law is also a victim of macroevaluativism, and is dragging your daughter down with him.  To filter job-applicants by educational credentials perpetuates classism—which is the justification for financial aid—but also perpetuates evaluativism against natural gadflies, some of which will rebel against the education system.  To supplement your struggles with microevaluativism, someone needs to address the macroevaluativism by reforming the job-applicant filtering process.

The institutional reform required to make hiring processes non-evaluativist would be as intense as the reform that was required to make the cotton industry non-racist (i.e. to abolish slavery).  It would likely create economic disaster for some businesses, so even just discussing such reform could be threatening to some people.  Most people simply want to reduce the pain—they have no intention to threaten anybody—so they avoided deeply discussing the situations of slaves and now avoid deeply discussing your son-in-law’s career and marriage.  Unlike in the Cinderella story, there is no prince who has the power to reform the system by himself (although someone who employs scientists might be able to bend the rules of the hiring process for your son-in-law, if nepotism is allowed—in that way, all forms of discrimination could be more painful for the poor).

 

What is the solution?

We are fortunate to live in an age in which we can be encouraged by progress already made against various forms of discrimination.  We can be assured that the situation is not hopeless, and can use the history of social progress as a map for future advances.

Macroevaluativism and microevaluativism cause each other.  Social stress causes discrimination to flare-up, which causes more social stress.  The quality of your son-in-law’s relationship with his wife (and with you) depends upon his dignity, which, in turn, depends upon the quality of his relationship with society.

Progress made on microevaluativism will unravel if macroevaluativism is not also addressed.  For this reason, we need large national/international organizations to address various forms of discrimination through institutional reform.  On the other hand, we also need to address microevaluativism because discrimination comes in forms laws cannot punish.  For example, studies have shown that subconscious racism influences clinical decisions, robbing minorities of life-saving prescriptions.  We can see that pattern statistically, and even identify doctors most likely to make racist decisions, but not all of those doctors’ decisions are racist, and we cannot tell which particular prescriptions are inappropriate.  Likewise, if we do not overcome microevaluativism, job applicants will misrepresent their natures, and diverse teammates will not leverage each other’s strengths—no laws can fix these inefficiencies.

It may not be practical for a single advocate to fight on both fronts simultaneously, but that’s OK.  It is appropriate that advocates for interdependency are interdependent.  Don’t consider yourself adequate to address evaluativism alone.  Be part of something larger.

Evaluativism’s Victim: The Relationship to Ageism

Evaluativism is our instinctive irrational frustration with people who have values contrary to our own. It is irrational in the same way it would be irrational for a prosecuting attorney to wish the defense attorney stopped showing up at court. Evaluative diversity makes society more successful on average, which is good for everyone (see Evaluativism 101). Thus, in one sense, evaluativism makes victims of us all.

In another sense, however, evaluativism hurts certain individuals more than it hurts others. It creates conflicts, and certain people lose those conflicts. The people most likely to win–parents, teachers, bosses–are people with privilege. This is where evaluativism aligns with ageism (and perhaps other forms of discrimination).

Variance Components by AgeThe above graph from an article by Peter Hatemi and his colleagues in the July 2009 issue of the Journal of Politics show the results of comparing the political values of identical and fraternal twins separated at birth vs. raised together. Such twin studies tell us whether our values come from our genes, from siblings’ shared environments (e.g. parenting), or from something else. For example, if the values of identical twins are more similar than the values of fraternal twins, then genes must play a significant role. Such studies have been conducted for decades and confirm that genes play a significant role in all human behavioral traits–what’s different about this graph is that it breaks-out the results by age.

The surprise here is that the significance of the role of genes (i.e., the blue bars) varies by age. It plays a minor role until the mid twenties, but becomes the dominant factor by age 50. A similar pattern is found with religious values. The values of identical twins raised apart gradually become more similar as they get older, even if they do not interact with each other.

I asked John Hibbing whether this indicated that younger people are oppressed, and he thought “oppressed” might be too strong a word. Maybe it just takes humans 20-50 years to find themselves. Maybe older people are more stubborn. Maybe society is blessed that many 50-year-olds can remember what it was like to be on the other side of the fence.

On the other hand, we wouldn’t educate our populace by forcing people to experience other races, sexes, and disabilities. Even if society would be better for it, such education would put undue stress on students. Many homosexuals do know what it was like to exhibit a different sexual orientation, but we count that as oppression, rather than as education.

Furthermore, the alignment with genes is low for the old as well as the young. It is awfully suspicious that the pattern so closely matches the ages in which people lack privilege. In fact, Hetami found that alignment of one’s values with one’s genes happens in the early 20’s only for people who leave their parental home. This suggests that the parental home, rather than age, is the trigger–that the parental home provides a kind of brainwashing that temporarily blocks people from discovering their own values.

It turns out that oppression is so rampant that it would be naive not to blame it for this pattern. Shanto Iyengar had 1021 people judge applications for a scholarship. As expected, the result proved that judges have an irrational bias against resumes that included hints of racial minority, but it also proved that they have an even stronger irrational bias against resumes that show hints of an opposing ideology (e.g., President of the Young Republicans).

Through other tests in the study, Iyengar found that this bias is instinctive and more of a hate bias against opponents than an affinity bias towards people with similar values. Young homosexuals are advised not to come-out to their parents until they are financially independent; given that parents, teachers, and bosses instinctively favor children, students and employees who exhibit their own values, it seems equally advisable for the underprivileged to temporarily adopt the values of their oppressors.

As mentioned at the top of this article, evaluativism is irrational. Parents, teachers and bosses who suppress evaluative diversity by discouraging the expression of contrary values handicap their families, companies and nations, thus ultimately shooting themselves in the foot. Ideological opponents are extremely valuable. Causing opponents to temporarily abandon their values is not equivalent to taking years from their lives, but it does greatly diminish their value to society. In that sense, evaluativism is foolish in the same way as slaughtering one’s workforce or killing endangered species.

To compensate for their instinctive evaluativism, authorities should create cultures of appreciation by demonstrating a commitment to learn about evaluative diversity. We should do this for our own sake, but also out of compassion for the underprivileged who are especially victimized. Hatemi’s results appear to exemplify intersectionality–where the intersection of two kinds of discrimination (in this case, evaluativism and ageism) produce a whole new kind of oppression (divergence from genetic predispositions). This should make us ask to see twin studies broken-out by race, class, gender, and sexuality as well.

What makes the intersection with ageism special may be that ageism is so widely experienced. All adults can recall being young, and many would resist subjecting themselves again to the authority of parents, teachers, and bosses. Hatemi’s results further warn that those who enjoy privilege now are likely to lose it in old-age. Evaluativism seems to be something we cannot avoid forever, unless, of course, we address it before we find ourselves on the receiving end.