Mandated Diversity Statement Drives Jonathan Haidt To Quit Academic Society

Mandated Diversity Statement Drives Jonathan Haidt To Quit Academic Society. By J.D. Tuccille.

Last week the New York University (NYU) psychology professor announced that he would resign at the end of the year from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, his primary professional association, because of a newly adopted requirement that everybody presenting research at the group’s conferences explain how their submission advances “equity, inclusion, and anti-racism goals.”

It was the sort of litmus test against which he has warned, and which he sees as corroding institutions of higher learning.


Jonathon Haidt, from 2017

“Telos means ‘the end, goal, or purpose for which an act is done, or at which a profession or institution aims,'” he wrote in a Sept. 20 piece published on the website of Heterodox Academy, an organization he cofounded that promotes viewpoint diversity on college campuses, and republished by the Chronicle of Higher Education. “The telos of a knife is to cut, the telos of medicine is to heal, and the telos of a university is truth.”

“The Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) recently asked me to violate my quasi-fiduciary duty to the truth,” he added. “I was going to attend the annual conference in Atlanta next February to present some research with colleagues on a new and improved version of the Moral Foundations Questionnaire. I was surprised to learn about a new rule: In order to present research at the conference, all social psychologists are now required to submit a statement explaining ‘whether and how this submission advances the equity, inclusion, and anti-racism goals of SPSP.'”

Such diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) statements have proliferated at universities and in academic societies, he notes, even though “most academic work has nothing to do with diversity, so these mandatory statements force many academics to betray their quasi-fiduciary duty to the truth by spinning, twisting, or otherwise inventing some tenuous connection to diversity.”

But the SPSP requirement went a step further, dropping “diversity” in favor of “anti-racism” … That’s an “explicitly ideological” interpretation of social interactions, Haidt objects, along with prescribed remedies to which he has moral and professional objections. He believes individual members of SPSP should be free to adopt the sentiment themselves, but adherence shouldn’t be compelled. …

Colleagues support him, Twitter condemns him:

“I have gotten about a dozen supportive emails from other social psychologists, and no real criticism beyond a few psychologists on Twitter who, perhaps shaped by Twitter, go to great lengths to assume the worst about me and my motives for writing the essay,” Haidt told me by email.

“I have the sense that there is a large generational split. Psychologists and academics who are older than me (I’m 58) seem uniformly supportive: they are all on the left, and the left used to be creeped out by loyalty oaths, whether administered by the McCarthyite right or the Soviet left. But young people on the left seem to be very comfortable requiring such pledges.”

Jonathan Haidt is a center left guy in academia, but principled, and guided by reality more than ideology. He’ll be an outsider like us soon.

See Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid: It’s not just a phase.

hat-tip Stephen Neil