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41TiKtcNqlL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_ Over at Heterodox Academy there’s a post, Heterodox Academy’s Guide to the Most (and Least) Politically Diverse Colleges, First Edition, geared toward those looking for “unsafe spaces.” This isn’t on the list, but there’s another option: just be around me! Recently a friend found out I was a conservative, and he expressed total wonderment at the exotic specimen sitting before him, as he admitted he had never had a conservative friend (he, a Harvard graduate). I don’t mean to be what I am, but as an conservative brown person I diversify my white liberal milieu by dint of living and breathing in their presence!

One thing that I wondered in relation to that post: why not just read books which don’t align with your opinions? I know this is an exotic thought for many, but it does wonders for perspective, and it’s far cheaper than going to a university. One strategy is to read old books. It is highly likely that you will not align in totality with Aristotle on issues such as slavery, for example. If that is too heavy going, then perhaps the Epic of Gilgamesh or the The Iliad. To lighten the mood even more, The Golden Ass.

51oviG6d1aL._SX341_BO1,204,203,200_ But the ancients are no more. Perhaps we want some more contemporary thinkers who are still alive, or represent more living traditions, oppositional to our own viewpoints? Years ago I read Tariq Ramadan’s Western Muslims and the Future of Islam. Unlike Reza Aslan Ramadan has scholarly heft, and is religiously orthodox in the eyes of the majority of the world’s Muslims (I enjoyed No God but God despite its occasional sloppiness, but Aslan is really not an alien perspective, he’s a person rather like me who happens to be broadly religious in some vague manner and so more sympathetic to Islam than I). It shows when someone like me, an atheist, an irtidad, attempts to read his verbal circumlocutions around concepts such as tawhid. Ramadan’s thought is extremely alien to me. It reminds me somewhat of attempting to read passages of Heidegger in translation. Such an exercise is useful, at least in understanding the incoherency of the believers.

Another book which has stuck with me is Michael Parenti’s Blackshirts and Reds: Rational Fascism and the Overthrow of Communism. I read it a long time ago, but I recall it is the sort of book that Southern romantics wrote about the lost cause, except in this case the lost cause was actually international Communism and Marxist-Leninism. Though Parenti doesn’t defend Stalin in the totality, he actually does defend him in some specifics! Obviously I’m not a Communist, and never have been. Though I did have a good friend in college who was a self-described Communist and Fidel groupie, she was a sociology major so I didn’t give it much thought. Here though is a man who lives in our time, an ex-friend of Bernie Sanders, defending the lost cause of Communism and bemoaning the fall of the Soviet Union as a grand experiment that was no more.

41KQE93RKGL._SX338_BO1,204,203,200_ Next let’s move to Creationist books I’ve read which have challenged my views. Though I find both Parenti and Ramadan’s views abhorrent and objectionable, I give the nod to them as scholars. But Darwin’s Black Box was a dumb book by a smart man (that is, Behe is a competent biochemist, but as an evolutionary biologist he’s a professional imbecile). Darwin on Trial I recall being slick and sophisticated, but it was just what a lawyer would write. It did not challenge me, it disgusted me, as it was sophistry. In contrast, Larry Witham’s By Design: Science and the Search for God is a sympathetic portrait of some researchers associated with the Intelligent Design movement, more or less. Like Islam, Creationism and Neo-Creationism (Intelligent Design), are stupid and false ideas. Creationism has the demerit of being promoted for most of its history by evangelical Protestants, so it has never developed intellectual richness which would impress outsiders (unlike Islam, which has a 1,500 year history). But, some of the people promoting Intelligent Design are quite clever, and their motives are illuminating.

A_Theory_of_Justice_(original_edition) John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice is not bed-time reading, but it is important to understanding modern political philosophy (Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia was a response). Philosophy doesn’t have a direct impact on modern society, but it does shape the frameworks of intellectuals, who eventually become political actors and influences. E.g., Matt Yglesias, a philosophy grad from Harvard, is pretty obviously influenced by Rawls, though this was more evident when he was an undergraduate. Rawls’ hyper-logical system building isn’t something that I’m too congenial with at this point in my life (rationalist models of society made more sense when I was a virgin). I am a conservative, I obviously disagree in a lot of details with Rawls. But the tendencies which he evinces are common among intellectual liberals, libertarians, and even free market zealots in the conservative camp.

51oBb9Js1ZL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ We live in a Whiggish age, so John Horgan’s The End of Science is an audacious book. I’m a scientist who loves science, so obviously I’m not convinced, to say the least. But Horgan gives it a good college shot, and sometimes the effort can result in illumination. Scientists are filled with hubris. A “cure for cancer” has been around the corner for decades, and robotics is going to go mainstream any day now. Some caution is warranted.

51hcmhp1YsL._SX343_BO1,204,203,200_ When I first read Garrett Hardin’s The Ostrich Factor: Our Population Myopia I was actually rather concerned with overpopulation. Today, for various reasons, I am not nearly as alarmed. But Hardin’s work is essential toward understanding how many people, especially biologists, think about these issues. Carrying capacity and the logistic curve of growth and saturation with “checks” are concepts drilled into the heads of most biologists, especially those with an ecological focus. Hardin, with his “tragedy of the commons”, was exceptional at being able to communicate this internal logic in a way that the public could understand. As such, his work channels many of the concerns in the environmental movement, in particular those which are more Deep Ecology tinged.

debt Randall Robinson wrote The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks during a period of time when there was a fair amount of talk about reparations for slavery. Though I agree most that American blacks have suffered injustice, and to some extent continue to do so, I do not hold to Left liberal positions on racial relations or the means of reconciliation. At the time I read The Debt I was a rather strident libertarian, so I was skeptical of Robinson’s case, and remained so after having finished it. Though some sections, as when he depicts Cuba as a racial paradise for blacks, were totally implausible, Robinson did not toss off a wild eyed screed. Impractical and unlikely as reparations were, The Debt was a serious effort offered in good faith.

7186SZ78EWL._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_ It seems this list is heavily skewed toward politics. But that’s one area where I have strong affirmative and negative positions, and am less open because these are grounded in a priori norms. It is strange to think of having a “diversity of views” on physics, for example. In the mid-1990s I read a fair amount of feminist material. Most of it did not stay with me. For example, I think I read Mary Daly’s The Church and the Second Sex, but I have no recollection what it was about in the specifics. In contrast Andrea Dworkin’s Woman Hating haunts me (in contrast, Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman inspires me as to the possibilities of my daughter’s life). Woman Hating is an unhinged radical feminist take on sexual relations. Even many feminists have accused her work to be a distorted reflection of the misogyny under which she suffered. Dworkin’s views are not representative of mainstream feminism, but they definitely reflect the fringe rather well, if in an unpleasant tone. The ubiquitous idea of “violence” through speech rather than deed took root early in this group of thinkers.

That is all for now. Readers can chime in with books which were influential for them, despite disagreeing with their viewpoints or perspective.

 
• Category: Ideology, Miscellaneous • Tags: Diversity 
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A monkey frog

The Pith: The Amazon Rainforest has a lot of species because it’s been around for a very long time.

I really don’t know much about ecology, alas. So my understanding of evolution framed in its proper ecological context is a touch on the coarse side. When I say I don’t know much about ecology, I mean that I lack a thick network of descriptive detail. So that means that I have some rather simple models in my head, which upon closer inspection turn out to be false in many specific instances. That’s what you get for relying on theory. Today I ran into a paper which presented me with some mildly surprising results.

The question: why is the Amazon Rainforest characterized by such a diversity of species? If you’d asked me that question 1 hour ago I would have said that it was a matter of physics. That is, the physical parameters of a high but consistent rainfall and temperature regime. This means the basic energetic inputs into the biome is high, and its consistency allows the organisms to plan their life schedule efficiently, maximizing the inputs. All that naturally produces a lot of diversification in the “climax” ecosystem. To some extent I would acknowledge this was pretty much a “Just-So,” but I’d have thought it was a good shot, and probably representative of the internal logic of many people.

ResearchBlogging.org But no, a new paper in Ecology Letters seems to imply that that the answer we must look to is history and not physics. From the perspective of someone who is rooted in are reductionist conception of evolutionary biology this isn’t the answer I was “rooting” for, but if it is, it is. What’s their logic?

First, the abstract, Phylogenetic origins of local-scale diversity patterns and the causes of Amazonian megadiversity:

What explains the striking variation in local species richness across the globe and the remarkable diversity of rainforest sites in Amazonia? Here, we apply a novel phylogenetic approach to these questions, using treefrogs (Hylidae) as a model system. Hylids show dramatic variation in local richness globally and incredible local diversity in Amazonia. We find that variation in local richness is not explained primarily by climatic factors, rates of diversification (speciation and extinction) nor morphological variation. Instead, local richness patterns are explained predominantly by the timing of colonization of each region, an d Amazonian megadiversity is linked to the long-term sympatry of multiple clades in that region. Our results also suggest intriguing interactions between clade diversification, trait evolution and the accumulation of local richness. Specifically, sympatry between clades seems to slow diversification and trait evolution, but prevents neither the accumulation of local richness over time nor the co-occurrence of similar species

Thankfully species richness is pretty easy to understand. It’s a count of the number of species in a given area. In this case they limited their count to a specific clade, the tree frogs. This clade seems to have a common ancestor ~60-80 million years before the present from which it descends.

Below is a phylogenetic tree (scaled to time on the horizontal) representing the relationships of contemporary tree frog species, as well as a distribution of the species across the world:

Visual inspection tells you immediately that Amazonia is overloaded with tree frog species. But to get at the question of what explains the variation in species richness the authors used standard statistical techniques relating predictors such as temperature and precipitation values to the outcome, species richness. The authors did find a relationship between precipitation and temperature and species richness. But once they controlled for phylogeny in their regression, that is, take into account history, the relationship went away. In other words the correlations may have been an artifact of the fact that the Amazon is warm and wet and rich with species. Controlling for the phylogeny of the clade, which is a record of contingent history, the expected picture relating physical parameters to diversification changes. The two panels above and to the left show the relationships between species richness (y-axis) and first colonization event. The left panel is pegged from the first colonization of any tree frog lineage, while the second sums up distinct colonization events by different clades (so the x-axis has a larger magnitude). The r-squared, the proportion of the variance of y explained by variance in x, is nearly 0.50 in the left and 0.70 in the right. That’s pretty good.

There’s some interesting material in the paper sympatry vs. allopatry in regards to the tree frogs. Basically, how they vary in size and diversity as a function of whether they co-occur in the same ecosystem or whether they’re physically separated (so allopatric speciation is when two lineages are separated while sympatric is when they are geographically overlapping but diverge anyhow, perhaps through occupation of differing niches).

But that’s not my primary concern or interest. How generalizable are these results form tree frogs? I don’t know this literature well. Surely someone has done a phylogenetic least squares with a lot of different clades and checked for this? If the results here are generalizable then the diversity of the Amazon ecosystem is in large part a function of its longer term stability and persistence. I have posited that at the “end of history” natural selection will have shaped an exceeding simply and energetically optimized biosphere, dominated by a few species. But in Amazon is a case in the opposite direction, as clade diversification increases as a function of the time of ecosystem integrity. Is this monotonic? In other words, is there going to be a time when a rare evolutionary event may given rise to a species which sweeps away all the accumulated variation?

Those are questions for the future I suppose.

Citation: Wiens JJ, Pyron RA, & Moen DS (2011). Phylogenetic origins of local-scale diversity patterns and the causes of Amazonian megadiversity. Ecology letters PMID: 21535341

Image credit: Colin Burnett

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Diversity, Ecology, Environment, Speciation 
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The Pith:Climatic and biological evolutionary pressures on an ecosystem complement at different scales. Neither is “dominant,” as that framing is not even wrong.

Yesterday I alluded to the Court Jester hypothesis of evolutionary change, which is often contrasted with the Red Queen hypothesis. The main embarrassment for me as a person who fancies himself a fan of evolutionary process is that I hadn’t ever heard of the Court Jester Hypothesis before yesterday. Therefore I went back to the paper which outlined many of the basic ideas of the model in 2001, Distinguishing the effects of the Red queen and Court Jester on Miocene mammal evolution in the northern Rocky Mountains. To be fair, the hypothesis itself is a tightening of a range of ideas which were long in the air. I did know, for example, about the Turnover-pulse hypothesis. These are all a set of models which emphasize the abiotic selective pressures on life forms, as opposed to the biotic ones. An abiotic pressure would be something like the Younger Dryas cold snap. A biotic pressure might be an exotic invasive species spreading through the landscape.

In my own mind selection is selection, so I didn’t distinguish them too stridently. In fact, most people seem to have abiotic pressures in mind when they conceive of natural selection, so I generally prefer to emphasize the competition and cooperation between and within species. Additionally, it seems that biotic models are more formally tractable and elegantly constructed (I know much of climate change is cyclical, but I assume that “catastrophe” exhibits a poisson distribution?). I generally lack the “thick” knowledge to really make sense of a lot of detailed natural historical treatments, so I probably avoided them because I didn’t think I’d get much out of them. In hindsight, this seems foolish and shortsighted. Rather like economists focusing on equilibrium states because of their ease of modeling when periodic exogenous shocks are a major variable within our real lives.

ResearchBlogging.org Now let’s hit the abstract:

Red Queen hypotheses maintain that biotic interactions are the most important drivers of evolutionary change, whereas Court Jester hypotheses regard physical-environmental perturbations, such as climate change, as most important. Tests for the biotic effects of climate change that are conducted on too large a geographic scale can falsely reject the Court Jester because climate is so complex its manifestation is in opposite directions in different geographic areas. Consequently, faunal responses vary from place to place, and lumping of data from different climate zones averages out any local faunal responses. Likewise, tests that are conducted at inappropriate temporal scales will not be effective at distinguishing between the Red Queen and Court Jester.

A test at a temporal and geographic scale that takes the above considerations into account suggests a biotic response of mammals to a climatic warming event in the northern Rocky Mountains 18.5-14.0 Ma (the late-Early Miocene climatic optimum). During the environmental perturbation, mammalian species richness possibly increased, faunal turnover was pronounced, and taxa adapted to warm, arid environments became more abundant in numbers of species and density of individuals. The data are consistent with environmental change—the Court Jester—driving evolutionary change at sub-continental spatial scales and temporal scales that exceed typical Milankovitch oscillations. The Red Queen may be active at smaller temporal and geographic scales.

The Milankovitch oscillations seem to be on the order of 100,000 years. The author argues that species only leave remains within the fossil record if they are able to withstand these smaller regular shocks as part of their normal evolutionary flexibility (this is kind of like the weak anthropic principle). But a major problem in attempting to ascertain the role of exogenously driven change over time is that climate does not have a uniform impact across the globe. By averaging together results from disparate regions one might collapse all the informative variation and give a false aggregate picture. Remember, -1 + 1 = 0, and 0 + 0 = 0.

Therefore the author looked at a relatively homogeneous subcontinental region over the course of a few million years. The primary variates of interest were species richness, faunal turnover (e.g., extinction and speciation), and shifts in the relative weights of abundance of the varied taxa (I assume this would impact the index of diversity).

Here are the primary results:

Richness—Table 2 compares the raw numbers of species found in each time interval. A strong correlation exists between species richness and interval of time over which the sample potentially accumulated (Fig. 3A), indicating standardization of the data to species per million years is warranted. Per million year richness peaked during He2&3, and remained elevated through Ba1, at first glance suggesting that an increase in Rocky Mountain mammal standing diversity coincided with the warming event (Table 2). Ecologically, this is consistent with ideas that suggest that diversity increases as a function of net primary productivity (up to a point, after which diversity decreases) (Rosenzweig, 1995). With increasing temperature, NPP generally increases, as long as effective precipitation does not fall below critical levels (Brown and Lomolino, 1998).

The finding that net primary productivity has a relationship to environmental conditions probably isn’t that surprising. Rain forests, whether temperate or tropical, tend to have a lot of biomass because they’re near the optimum temperature and precipitation range in terms of the inputs for an ecosystem powered by the ability of plants to produce tissue and energy from sunlight, water, air, and nutrients. You can use an economic or physical analogy, but the causal chain here is rather straightforward. In contrast, a Red Queen model of co-evolutionary arms race is less about concrete modifications of the factors of production, and more analogous to shifts in the organizational and information economy. Or perhaps it is like a planetary system where the various bodies are always cycling around the common center of gravity. The center of gravity remains relatively stationary in comparison to the constantly changing configuration of the individual planets.

Let’s consider a concrete example: agriculture. One the one hand per unit land yield depends on the weather and inputs like fertilizer. You vary the weather and various inputs and you vary the yield in a relatively straightforward manner as a response. There may also be a necessary rebalancing of the mix of crops which one sows, because they react differently to climate and the lack (or presence) of fertilizer. Now think about the biological factors. To maximize yields farmers may shift toward a less diversified monoculture which is optimized toward the expected climatic regime. But this monoculture is in its turn vulnerable to blights and what not. The race against biological antagonists is not so straightforward as the responses to physical variables, because biologicals constantly shift and evolve in a protean and unpredictable fashion. Ancient strategies may be resurrected after the defenses are forgotten from the residual genetic variation. The Red Queen is about eternal recurrence of the agonistic dance between organisms. It is the perpetual grind. On first glance the Court Jester may seem superficially more unpredictable, but macroscale climatic changes have been a regular feature of the history of the planet earth. Basic biophysical modulation of size and abundance are going to be in repeated flux in response to the whim of the Court Jester. So on a deep fundamental level, selection is selection, and the difference is a matter of scale.

The first panel shows the relationship between the two models varied by time and spatial scale. The Red Queen is in this conception a dynamic of small populations, demes. Imagine local resistances of breeding groups to endemic diseases, and the evolutionary response of those localized pathogens. The Court Jester operates on a subcontinental scale, as well as a longer time frame. Whole ecosystems are remodeled by radical climatic shocks, or geological catastrophes. But observe the zone where the author argues that the Red Queen emerges as an artifact. Why? The averaging of subcontinental scale populations collapses the varied responses and generates a false metastable equilibrium in the data.

In panel B you see environmental change, the primary driver of the action of the Court Jester, substituted on the x axis. The nature of the chart is now almost tautological. If you reduce the magnitude of environmental variation, then naturally most of the variation is going to be due to biological cyclical processes. In a situation where there is the possibility of variation due to X and Y, if you remove the possibility of Y, most of the variation will be accounted for by X. Notice that as you push the extent of environmental variation to zero even over eons the Red Queen is still the dominant process. At the opposite end, increasing environmental fluctuation amplifies the power of the Court Jester even over modest time scales.

Here’s a question though that I wonder about: how artificial is the division we make between biotic and abiotic pressures? Humans reorderd the physical landscape of many species. Are we the Red Queen, or the Court Jester? I think this question has broad and deep relevance. And not just for humans.

Citation: BARNOSKY, A. (2001). DISTINGUISHING THE EFFECTS OF THE RED QUEEN AND COURT JESTER ON MIOCENE MAMMAL EVOLUTION IN THE NORTHERN ROCKY MOUNTAINS Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 21 (1), 172-185 DOI: 10.1671/0272-4634(2001)021[0172:DTEOTR]2.0.CO;2

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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In yesterday’s link dump I expressed some dismissive attitudes toward the idea that loss of linguistic diversity, or more precisely the extinction of rare languages, was a major tragedy. Concretely, many languages are going extinct today as the older generation of last native speakers is dying. This is an issue that is embedded in a set of norms, values which you hold to be ends, so I thought I could be a little clearer as to what I’m getting at. I think there are real reasons outside of short-term hedonic utility why people would want to preserve their own linguistic tradition, and that is because I am no longer a total individualist when it comes to human identity. I have much more sympathy for the French who wish to preserve French against the loss of their linguistic identity against the expansion of English than I had a few years ago.

Language is history and memory. When the last speaker of English dies, or, when English is transmuted to such an extent that it is no longer English as we today understand it, our perception of the past and historical memory, our understanding of ourselves, will change. There is a qualitative difference when Shakespeare becomes as unintelligible as Beowulf. Though I tend to lean toward the proposition that all languages are a means toward the same ends, communication, I agree that there are subtleties of nuance and meaning which are lost in translation when it comes to works of literature and other aspects of collective memory. Those shadings are the sort of diversity which gives intangible aesthetic coloring to the world. A world where everyone spoke the same language would lose a great deal of color, and I acknowledge that.


But we need to look at the other side of the ledger. First, we’re not talking about the extinction of English, French, or Cantonese. We’re talking about the extinction of languages with a few thousand to a dozen or so speakers. The distribution of languages and the number of speakers they have follows a power law trend, the vast majority of languages have very few speakers, and these are the ones which are going extinct. We are then losing communal identity, a thousand oral Shakespeare’s are turning into Beowulf’s and Epic of Gilgamesh’s, specific stories which have to be reduced to their universal human elements because a living native speaking community is gone. Let me acknowledge that there is some tragedy here. But this ignores the costs to those who do not speak world languages with a high level of fluency. The cost of collective color and diversity may be their individual poverty (i.e., we who speak world languages gain, but incur no costs).

Over the arc of human history individuals and communities have shifted toward languages with more numerous following. Sometimes, as in the case of the marginalization of the dialects of France for standard French in the 19th century, there was a top-down push. In other cases there needed to be no top-down push, because people want to integrate themselves into networks of trade, communication and participate in the family of nations on equal footing. Losing the languages of your ancestors means that your ancestors are made to disappear, their memory fades, and is replaced by other fictive ancestors. Modern Arabs outside of Arabia will often acknowledge that they are the products of Arabization (this is most obvious in the case of regions like Egypt or Mesopotamia which have long and glorious historical traditions pre-dating Islam). But they also in particular circumstances conceive of themselves as descendants of Ishmael, because they are Arab. A similar sort of substitution occurs when peoples change religions. The early medieval European monarchies, such as the Merovingians and the House of Wessex, traced their ancestry to German pagan gods. Later European dynasties tended to establish fictive ties to the House of David.

But letting one’s ancestors die also means that one can live with other human beings, and participate clearly and with a high level of fluency. You may object that this does not entail monolingualism. And certainly it does not, but over the generations there will be a shift toward a dominant language if there is economic, social and cultural integration. The way we can preserve local traditions and languages in the face of the homogenizing power of languages and cultures of greater scope is to put up extremely high barriers to interaction. The Amish have preserved their German dialect and religious traditions, but only through opting out of the mainstream to an extreme extent (and the Amish are bilingual too).

On a deeper cognitive level some readers point out that there are hints that the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis may be correct. This is still not a strong enough reason for the perpetuation of linguistic traditions which are not widely subscribed. Humans have a finite amount of time in their lives, and the choices they make may not be perfectly rational, but quite often in the aggregate they are. When it comes to some aspects of cultural diversity, such as dress and religion, the importance we place on these traits is imbued by aspects of human psychology. Not so with language. Communication is of direct utilitarian importance.

Now that I’ve addressed, at least minimally, the tensions on the macro and micro level when it comes to linguistic preference, I want to address the aggregate gains to linguistic uniformity. My family is from Bangladesh, which had a “language movement”, which served as the seeds for the creation of that nation from a united Pakistan. Though there was a racial and religious component to the conflict I don’t think it would have matured and ripened to outright civil war without the linguistic difference. Language binds us to our ancestors, and to our peers, but also can separate us from others. A common language may not only be useful in a macroeconomic context, reducing transaction costs and allowing for more frictionless flow of information, but it also removes one major dimension of intergroup conflict.

So if only everyone spoke the same language there would be peace and prosperity? Perhaps not. Recently I have been convinced that it is best to have an oligopoly of languages so that “group-think” doesn’t impact the whole world in the same way. I’m basically repeating Jared Diamond’s argument i n Guns, Germs, and Steel, as to why Europe was more cultural creative in the early modern period than China. Institutional barriers can allow for more experimentation, and prevent “irrational herds” from taking the whole system into dead-ends. Another way to think of it is portfolio diversity. Though linguistic diversity will introduce frictions to communication, on the margins some friction is useful to prevent memetic contagion which might occur due to positive feedback loops.

Below I present my model in graphical form. One the X axis is a diversity index. Imagine it goes from 1 to 0. 1 is the state where everyone speaks a different language, and 0 is the one where everyone speaks the same language. A state of high linguistic diversity converges upon 1, and one of low diversity upon 0. I believe that as linguistic diversity decreases one gains economies of scale, but there are diminishing returns. And, beyond a certain point I suspect that there are decreases to utility because of the systematic problem of irrational herds. I didn’t put a scale on the X axis because I don’t have a really clear sense of when we’re hitting the point of negative returns on homogeneity, though I don’t think we’re there yet.

lingdiv

Note: My confidence in the hypothesis that there are negative returns at some point is modest at best, and I have a high level of uncertainty as to its validity. But, I have a high confidence about the shape of the left side of the chart below, that very high linguistic diversity is not conducive to economic growth, social cooperation, and amity more generally scaled beyond the tribe.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Economics, Science • Tags: Culture, Diversity, Language, Norms 
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Razib Khan
About Razib Khan

"I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com"