In his review of Scott E. Page’s The Difference, Nieli finds that much of what Page cites in his book actually contradicts the thesis contained in his title. Much of the literature, Nieli finds, shows that ”identity-diverse groups are more likely than less heterogeneous groups to encounter communication problems, problems in agreeing upon fundamental objectives, and problems in simply getting along with one another.”
Where there are identity-diverse groups, Nieli quotes Page asserting, “group dynamics can create no end of problems. People prefer to hang with people like themselves and tend to stereotype others.” Furthermore, “Lots of strange things can happen in a diverse group that would not be likely to happen among homogeneous people — including physical and verbal violence.”
Nieli’s own conclusion:
“Death by a thousand qualifications” is perhaps the best way to characterize what is left of Page’s defense of identity diversity after all his caveats are listed. If problem-solving team members get along with one another, he says, if their differing identities correlate with relevant cognitive talents important to the task at hand, if there is no fundamental conflict with their basic preferences and ends, and if the task at hand is a complex one requiring the effort of a multi-talented group, then—and only then—is identity diversity a good thing and well worth achieving through affirmative action-type policies. But just how often can one expect such criteria to be met? By Page’s own reading of the literature, not so often.