University of California – Los Angeles student Josh Hedtke reviews the calculations behind diversity success, and determines the claims being made don’t add up.

A widely touted study claiming diversity is a better attribute than ability in spurring productivity and problem solving – claims used to push diversity classes as graduation mandates at universities – is actually fundamentally flawed, two mathematicians tell The College Fix.

University of Michigan Professor Scott Page, director of the campus’ Center for the Study of Complex Systems, authored the book “The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools and Societies” in 2007 which states “the veracity of the diversity trumps ability claim is not a matter of dispute. It’s true, just as 1+1=2 is true.”

Page’s work has since been cited by universities such as UCLA to create new diversity graduation requirements, and has also been touted by the likes of the U.S. Geological Survey, the Lawrence Berkeley Labs, and even NASA.

It’s a model that has been used “to give a scientific veneer to the diversity field,” according to Professor  Abigail Thompson, a mathematician at UC Davis.

The problem is, she adds, the model is “an example of the misuse of mathematics in the social sciences.” Thompson makes that point in her peer-reviewed critique of the model published September by the American Mathematical Society.

“The paper ‘Groups of diverse problem solvers can outperform groups of high ability problem solvers’ contains a theorem that has neither mathematical content nor real-world applications, and a contrived computer simulation that illustrates the well-known fact that random algorithms are often effective,” Thompson stated in her extensive rebuttal. “What the paper emphatically does not contain is information that can be applied to any real-world situation involving actual people.”

…Page essentially toiled away in the ivory tower contriving a tortured mathematical simulation that used letters and numbers as proxies for human beings, did a methodologically flawed computer experiment, and then claimed, without a shadow of a doubt, that his theorem is a “mathematical truth” which has real-world applications.