Ha, revisiting this article and guess what I found. The study cited that 'debunks' Hughes ted talk thesis is based on 4 metrics of 'high quality intergroup relations', meaning higher scores on those 4 metrics are good, less is bad. Ideology with the highest score is the best ideology, and the meta-study says that the highest score goes to the ideology called 'multiculturalism' (also called DEI woke stuff). Therefore Coleman is wrong, DEI leads to the best outcomes for intergroup relations.

The 4 are:

1) reduced prejudice, 2) reduced discrimination, 3) reduced stereotyping and 4) increased diversity policy support.

That last one. Increased diversity policy support as a measure of societal benefit? What garbage analysis. Support for the multicultural ideology (DEI) is a measure of how effective each ideology is. Obviously, those of us who support colorblindess as a general creed will therefore support DEI stuff less, because they are ideologically totally opposed to each other. What a joke. I wonder what the numbers would look like with that 4th metric removed. Talk about finding the facts to match the conclusion not the other way around. How did this even get published?

Note: the assumption being that diversity policies mean DEI, because I have never experienced a non-DEI diversity policy in the workplace, and never heard of one besides anti-harassment policies which I don't believe count as diversity, just regular HR. If I'm wrong here than maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think I am.

I'm a professional researcher and this is a prime example of BS science, I'm so glad I'm not a social scientist this kind of stuff would drive me nuts.

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By muzzling Coleman Hughes’ “controversial” talk they effectively admit they’re catering or believe they’re catering to the woke mob. Grant and Chris are acting like corporate executives afraid of losing sponsors and subscribers rather than keeping to their stated mission.

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The U.S. Census Bureau complies with congressional directives that require it to collect demographic data on eight demographic groups, six of which are designated as protect minority. But the Census Bureau has never asserted the eight groupings reflect America’s diversity. That would be an anthropological absurdity. In order to reveal the true diversity of America, Census 2000 asked all Americans to designate their ethnic groups. The census showed that America has 998 ancestral or ethnic groups. Anyone who focuses on skin color doesn't understand American diversity.

Source: Table 1. First, Second, and Total Responses to the Ancestry Question by Detailed Ancestry Code: Census 2000.

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Well as we say, “If you are explaining you are probably losing.”

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Coleman’s response to Adam: “Yes, you read that right. In this “rigorous” meta-analysis, one of the ways that success is measured is whether the ideology leads to support for policies like affirmative action. Affirmative Action, in other words, is assumed to be good and treated like an effect rather than a cause. That strikes me as backwards.”

He is exactly right. This is exactly how ideology is smuggled into so called academic research.

They start by assuming some outcome is a value, or “good.” And then do research which shows that whatever intervention they favor increases that value. Eureka! Now we have Science™️ showing that said intervention increases the good!

Of course, the problem is that they never establish that the value is indeed a value in the first place. It’s just asserted, despite the fact that many reasonable people would disagree.

And that’s what TED is supposed to be: A place where people who disagree can debate what we should value--a place where we determine what is good.

But it isn’t a place where we can hash out our differences and form shared values anymore, because TED has become nothing but a mouthpiece for partisans who use politicized pseudo-science to justify their authoritarian tendencies.


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Seems there is misunderstanding of the "color blindness" terminology or rather overcomplicated and overloaded by the research Grant mentioned in his response. To me it is not about disregarding the person race or ethnicity, I always see the origin of the person I encounter and always try to guess the origin, (I love diversity), but not to be influenced by it in my judgement of the person character, abilities, motivations. The advocates of the opposite approach are looking for the preferential treatment and enhanced opportunities by the origin rather than merits. This harms society in multiple ways making it more hypocritical and insincere, thus hindering our progress toward bigotry free society

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Some additional comments regarding the Coleman Hughes TED talk brouhaha

I’ve quoted from the head of TED, Chris Anderson’s, comments regarding the situation, and this post is written in the form of a letter addressed to Mr Anderson. My comments regarding Mr. Anderson’s comments are below each quote.

>> “...we concluded that some of the essential issues raised by Coleman’s talk needed wider discussion, hence the decision to supplement the talk with a debate”

The obvious question, Mr. Anderson – which you do not answer in your response to Mr. Hughes’ complaints regarding his treatment by TED – is whether TED has EVER postponed publication of a talk pending “wider discussion” and a required additional debate on the topic? Did this, for example, happen following the 2014 TED talk that criticized color-blind social policies? If not – why was the Hughes talk singled out in the way that it was?

>>”The first is how unfair it is that Adam Grant got dragged into this.”

True – to a degree. And I am certainly not claiming that Mr Grant supported censorship of Coleman Hughes. However, as I noted in my review of the Leslie et al. (2020) meta-analysis paper, that paper has a number of really glaring weaknesses that Dr. Grant should have highlighted in his report regarding the current state of the science. I’m really surprised that he did not, because he is an accomplished social scientist who really couldn’t have failed to have noticed the paper’s weaknesses if he had done a thorough review of the paper rather than simply accepting the conclusions of the authors of the paper at face value.

>>”As the researchers themselves write: “Multiculturalism is more consistently associated with improved intergroup relations than any identity-blind ideology.”

That IS what the authors concluded. But, as I have noted above and elsewhere, the paper is so fatally flawed (and biased in its design) that Dr. Grant should have cautioned you against accepting the paper’s conclusions at face value.

>> “But when we have entered political waters, that content in recent years has indeed been more likely to use the language and ideas of progressives than conservatives. “

And why is that? Are you working to return some balance to the talks that are presented at TED? And by what measure would one classify Hughes’ talk as “conservative”? Hughes argues in favor of affirmative action based up social class. Is that a conservative idea? Is it “conservative” to argue that everyone should be treated equally, regardless of race? Is it “conservative” for professors to grade all students based upon the same rubric, regardless of each student’s race? If you are going to claim that Hughes’ ideas are “conservative”, it would seem to be incumbent upon you to justify that claim in some way.

>> “Some commenters below just don’t understand how anyone could be upset by a talk arguing for color blindness. This speaks to their own lack of immersion in the rich debate that has swirled on this topic in recent years. See, for example, a wonderful TED Talk from 2014, “Color blind or color brave?”, arguing that we’ll never achieve true equity unless we proactively take race into account in our decision-making. Check it out. It’s persuasive: https://go.ted.com/6WzH“

All I can say is – WOW. So you are claiming that it is your critics, and not you and the members of black@TED, who need to get out of their ideological bubbles. I’m sorry – but I really think you might want to entertain the possibility that you need to get out more into the world that most people in this country inhabit. You do know, don’t you, that race-based affirmative action is deeply unpopular in the country as a whole, including among African Americans? WOW.

In addition, I think you have misread the point being made here by your critics. I doubt there are many who truly cannot understand HOW anyone could be upset by the Hughes talk. There are many, however, who seem to believe that people who work at TED should not become upset by the content of a talk – or if staff do become upset by the content of a talk, but should not be a factor affecting you decision regarding the posting of that talk or the selection of topics foir future talks. Your staffers work, after all, for an organization whose motto focuses on the importance of operating at the level of IDEAS. Becoming upset in response to an idea is simply not a rational argument against the idea.

>>”If someone's spent their whole life experiencing a playing field that is tilted against them, proactive policies to un-tilt that field are a ray of light. A talk arguing to dump those in favor of color-blindness can therefore seem not just wrong, but truly dangerous.“

Really, Mr. Anderson? I might be wrong – but I am willing to bet that many of the staff who work at TED have led very privileged lives. Am I wrong? What percentage of them, for example, have attended either private high schools, or elite private universities, or both? How many of them have benefitted from affirmative action in college admission and/or in being hired by TED? Please note that, as was noted above, Hughes argues in favor of class/economic-disadvantage-based affirmative action, rather than race-based affirmative action. By claiming that the thesis of Hughes’ talk is “not just wrong, but truly dangerous”, some of your staff are claiming that they are more deserving of special supports than are those who are seriously economically disadvantaged. Nice. (And if I am wrong about the level of privilege that has characterized the lives of most of your staffers, I apologize and will be happy to change my views about them).

>>”They’re smart, creative, curious and kind, and they work for TED because they believe in the importance of ideas and in TED’s mission.”

Uh – if this claim about your staff is correct, then why did some of them argue against releasing the Hughes talk? Is censorship a part of the TED mission? If not – then the request that Coleman Hughes’ talk not be released does not reflect a “belief in the importance of ideas and in TED’s mission.”

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Do the findings from the Leslie et al. (2020) meta-analysis disprove the claims made by Coleman Hughes in his recent TED talk.

[PART 2]

6. Did the meta-analysis actually find that color-blindness was not associated with what the authors define as elements of high quality inter-group relations?

No. What the meta-analysis DID find (a point noted by Hughes in his comments about Anderson’s Free Press comments) is that color blindness was significantly associated with lower levels of stereotyping and prejudice – findings entirely consistent with Hughes’ claims in his TED talk.

7. In that case, what about multiculturalism?

Like color-blindness, multiculturalism was negatively associated with lower levels of stereotyping and prejudice, and was also negatively associated with discrimination. The magnitude of these associations was larger for multiculturalism than color-blindness. However, far and away the biggest difference between color-blindness and multiculturalism is that the former was not positively associated with support for progressive diversity-related social policies whereas , whereas there was a strong association between support for those policies and belief in multiculturalism.

The findings regarding social policy support are not surprising. Indeed, it is essentially a defining feature of belief in color blindness that one would support treating everyone equally, without regard to the individual’s race, whereas a defining feature of belief in multiculturalism (as operationalized in the meta-analysis paper) is that one supports taking race into account as part of governmental and business and educational policies.

As was noted above, however, the authors of the meta-analysis have simply defined support for those kinds of policies as an essential component of “high quality intergroup relations”, but provide zero evidence that intergroup relations actually improve when organizations (whether business or educational or governmental) adopt these kinds of social policies. One might argue that it would have been just as reasonable (and consistent with evidence mentioned below) to have replaced “support for diversity policies” with “support for equality policies” as one of the “outcome” measures in the meta-analysis – in which case, it seems very likely that color-blindness would have emerged as having the strongest relationship with “high quality intergroup relations”. The decision by the authors of the meta-analysis to make support for progressive political policies one of their so-called outcome variables reflected a political value judgment on their part, and was not based on a scintilla of evidence (certainly not any that they provide).

8. Well, then – what about the quality of “intergroup relations”– the variable that is ostensibly the focus of the meta-analysis?

The four “outcome” variable included in the meta-analysis serve, within the analysis, as proxies for the quality of intergroup relations. However, very few of the studies surveyed included any more direct kind of measure of intergroup relations, and the authors of the meta-analysis seem very comfortable completely ignoring the absence of that evidence (evidence that would seem to be required for them to make the arguments that they make in the discussion and conclusion sections of the paper).

Ironically, given Grant’s and Anderson’s claim that the findings from the meta-analysis disprove the thesis of Hughes’ talk, it was Hughes who presented evidence more directly bearing on the question of the relationship between diversity ideologies and the quality of intergroup relations. Hughes presented the findings from a large scale survey (just one of a number of surveys that have shown the same pattern) showing that during the past 10-15 years, as the ideology of color blindness has been increasingly and prominently criticized within progressive media and in elite universities, ratings by both racial minorities and whites of the quality of intergroup relations has DECLINED. In other words, coincident with the decline in belief in color blindness and increased adoption of multiculturalism within society, there has been a decline, rather than an increase, in average ratings of intergroup relations. Neither Grant, nor Anderson, nor the authors of the meta-analysis, address this seemingly dramatic contradiction between their claims and what has actually happened in our society during the past one-to-two decades.

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My own dissection of the Leslie et al. (2020) meta-analysis that Dr. Grant and Mr. Anderson used as their primary source of evidence that the claims made in Coleman Hughes' TED talk were simply wrong.

[PART 1]

Does the Leslie et al. (2020) meta-analysis prove that Coleman Hughes was wrong?

Robert Guttentag

Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychology

UNC Greensboro

1. Context

Following the TED (“Ideas worth spreading”) talk by Coleman Hughes (A Case for Color-Blindness), Chris Anderson, the head of TED, received a request from a group of TED staffers called “Black@TED” requesting that the talk not be posted. Although Anderson ultimately did post the talk, he also sought feedback regarding whether the claims made by Hughes are consistent with the best available scientific evidence from Dr. Adam Grant, a popular science author and professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania specializing in organizational psychology. Grant’s report was based heavily on his reading of a single meta-analysis of research on different “diversity ideologies” (the term used by the authors of the meta-analysis); he concluded that existing social science research does not support the claims made by Hughes in his TED talk. Anderson then echoed Grant’s conclusion, writing in a posting on X and a posting on the Free Press blog, specifically referencing the meta-analysis, that: “ As the researchers themselves write: “Multiculturalism is more consistently associated with improved intergroup relations than any identity-blind ideology.”“

The question I address below is whether the findings from the meta-analysis (that served as the foundation for Grant’s summary of the evidence and for Anderson’s claim that Hughes was wrong in his claims about color-blindness) really does provide evidence inconsistent with Hughes’ claims. My own reading of the paper is that it does NOT provide evidence that undermines Hughes’ claims, and that Grant, who is very well qualified to assess the paper, should have noted the rather glaring weaknesses of the paper that I note below.

The reference for the meta-analysis is:

Leslie, L, Bono, J.,Kim, Y., & Beaver, J. (2020). On Melting Pots and Salad Bowls: A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Identity-Blind and Identity-Conscious Diversity Ideologies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 105, 453 - 471.

2. Summary

In short – I argue below that the meta-analysis suffers from several very significant shortcomings that should have been obvious to Dr. Grant. (i) The way in which the paper defines the elements of “high quality intergroup relations” is not based upon evidence of any kind, but instead reflects the progressive political philosophy of the authors, thereby baking into the design of the study the conclusions that the authors ultimately reached. (ii) The authors frequently draw causal conclusions from data which cannot be legitimately utilized as the foundation for a causal conclusion. (iii) In any case, the meta-analysis actually finds an association between color-blind beliefs and lower levels of prejudice and stereotyping. (iv) The claims by the authors of the meta-analysis (and by Grant and Anderson) notwithstanding, the study does not in any direct way assess factors contributing to “high quality intergroup relations”, and therefore it is unclear how the results of the meta-analysis actually bear on an assessment of the validity of the claims made in Hughes’ TED talk. Hughes, on the other hand, does provide evidence of a more direct kind supporting his claims regarding color blindness and intergroup relations.

3. What was the nature of the studies included in the meta-analysis?

The meta-analysis included studies that examined the association between one or more “diversity ideologies”, including “color-blindness” and “multiculturalism” (the two diversity ideologies relevant to assessing the validity of Hughes’ claims), and one or more “outcome measures” (scare quotes used here for reasons that will be made obvious in the next section) including prejudice, discrimination, stereotyping, and support for particular kinds of diversity policies. According to the paper’s authors, color-blindness “emphasizes minimizing the salience of [group] differences, specifically by ignoring them.” Thus, for example, if a professor grades student papers only after removing all student identity information from each paper, that would be classified as a color-blind approach to grading. According to the authors, multiculturalism, in contrast, “emphasizes acknowledging and valuing [group] differences.”

Most of the studies included in the meta-analysis were correlational studies that involved administering to participants measures of each individual’s belief in one or more diversity ideologies and measures of each individual’s placement on scales of prejudice, discrimination, stereotyping, and/or support for particular kinds of diversity policies. A minority (27%) of the studies were experimental in design, involving attempts to modify participant’s beliefs in diversity ideologies while assessing the effects of the change in beliefs on measure of prejudice, discrimination, stereotyping, and/or support for diversity policies.

4. The meta-analysis adopts a progressive political bias as part of its definition of “high quality intergroup relations”.

In the abstract of the paper, the authors refer to their focus on “4 indicators of high quality intergroup relations—reduced prejudice, discrimination, stereotyping, and increased diversity policy support. Thus, as part of their DEFINITION of “high quality intergroup relations”, the authors include support for what are generally considered to be politically progressive social policies, such as affirmative action, reparations, and granting citizenship automatically to the children of illegal aliens. It is apparently simply a part of the authors’ own political beliefs that support for what are generally considered to be politically progressive social policies is a component of or prerequisite for “high quality intergroup relations”. At a minimum, the authors should have cited actual evidence for this claim. They did not.

5. Correlation does not equal causation

Given that 73% of the studies included in the meta-analysis involved a correlational design, and given that the findings from correlation studies tell us little if anything about causation, the ability of the findings from the meta-analysis to draw strong causal conclusions is highly limited. The authors of the meta-analysis openly acknowledge the limitations of correlational studies, but still slip frequently into the use of causal language when describing results that are based heavily on the findings from correlational studies. Indeed, the simple labeling of discrimination, prejudice, stereotyping and support for diversity policies as “outcome measures” presupposes a particular direction of causation. Throughout the abstract, and in many places throughout the body of the paper, the authors refer to “the effects of” diversity ideologies, implying quite directly that ideologies have causal effects on the so-called outcome variables. Not only is it the case that such conclusions cannnot be conclusively drawn based upon correlational findings, but in at least one of the papers included in the analysis, the authors of the paper specifically argue for a reverse direction of causation (arguing that a so-called “outcome” measure is the real causal variable while adoption of a form of diversity ideology is the “effect”).

The meta-analysis does include the analysis of some experimental studies as well, and drawing causal conclusions is more firmly grounded when based upon evidence from such studies. Unfortunately, the authors do not provide separate analyses of the correlational vs experimental studies, so little can be said about how strongly the experimental findings support the overall conclusions of the paper. What the authors DO say, however, is that they lack sufficient evidence to determine “whether the effect of diversity ideologies on intergroup relations or the effect of intergroup relations on diversity ideologies is stronger”. Of course, the frequent use of causative language throughout the paper (references to the “effects” of diversity ideologies) is wholly inconsistent with the qualification quoted above. There should not have been ANY causal language used when describing the findings from the meta-analysis, and it is surprising that Dr. Grant did not comment on that problematic feature of the meta-analysis paper.

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Of course color blindness is preferable to race based decision making (past admirable thinkers/ leaders have said such was "self-evident;" they wrote it down somewhere). At the core, the idea that that Hughes' words "harmed" some of the Hughes' listners is the problem. Whether they know it or not, these few listners are defining a new range of speech as violence specifically so that they can respond to such speech with violence. Meet the new boss... Free speech isn't free if we are not free to hear it, and putting us in a place to be violently suppressed for making that obvious statement about our rights, and enjoying those rights, is what this is about. Grant and Anderson come across as weak enablers of this galloping, unimaginably dangerous, societal wrong.

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It seems clear that the real problem was that "Many people have been genuinely hurt and offended by what they heard Hughes say" and most important was a group of employees whose view of the world was threatened by what he said. An excellent opportunity for TED to walk the talk if ideas really do matter. Alas, wokeness is the only explanation that makes sense.

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Just read the letters. IMHO, both are pure BS..

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Kudos to Coleman for calling out a return to meritocracy and improvements in our educational system. Throttling up tribalism in hopes of creating change only favors despotic natures of humanity. focusing on class may well place better results with less wasted efforts of policy making. School vouchers, competition, remain controversial, yet open market pressures facilitating educational opportunity. Changing cultural obstacles remains better than retreating to safe (tribal) spaces.

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To Chris Anderson: The approach you should take with your employees on this issue (and other similar issues) is the same approach the CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, took when Dave Chappelle was attacked for his comedy act for being transphobic. He told his employees that Netflix would not censor Chappelle and if they didn’t like it, they should find someplace else to work. Grow a pair of balls and stand up for yourself.

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Very disappointed with this response, especially from Adam Grant who taught me at Wharton. "Multiculturalism", really? Coleman's colorblind mindset is empowering and would lead to better policy. Done with TED.

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The Experts™️ are at it again! I don't need a double blind meta-analysis to tell me how to treat other human beings. Coleman made a mistake to even engage with this "research." Moral philosophy is not derived from a spreadsheet folks.

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