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Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies

by Scott E Page Princeton University Press
Pub Date:
08/2008
ISBN:
9780691138541
Format:
Pbk 456 pages
Price:
AU$67.00 NZ$71.30
Product Status: Available in Approx 14 days
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In this landmark book, Scott Page redefines the way we understand ourselves in relation to one another. The Difference is about how we think in groups--and how our collective wisdom exceeds the sum of its parts. Why can teams of people find better solutions than brilliant individuals working alone? And why are the best group decisions and predictions those that draw upon the very qualities that make each of us unique? The answers lie in diversity--not what we look like outside, but what we look like within, our distinct tools and abilities.

The Difference reveals that progress and innovation may depend less on lone thinkers with enormous IQs than on diverse people working together and capitalizing on their individuality. Page shows how groups that display a range of perspectives outperform groups of like-minded experts. Diversity yields superior outcomes, and Page proves it using his own cutting-edge research. Moving beyond the politics that cloud standard debates about diversity, he explains why difference beats out homogeneity, whether you're talking about citizens in a democracy or scientists in the laboratory. He examines practical ways to apply diversity's logic to a host of problems, and along the way offers fascinating and surprising examples, from the redesign of the Chicago ''El'' to the truth about where we store our ketchup.

Page changes the way we understand diversity--how to harness its untapped potential, how to understand and avoid its traps, and how we can leverage our differences for the benefit of all.



Preface to the Paperback Edition

Prufrock Avoided xiii

Acknowledgments

The Continuous Life xix

Prologue

How Diversity Trumps Ability

Fun at Caltech xxv

Introduction

Unpacking Our Differences 1



PART ONE: UNPACKING THE TOOLBOX



CHAPTER 1: Diverse Perspectives How We See Things 23

CHAPTER 2: Heuristics Do the Opposite 52

CHAPTER 3: Interpretations Our Own Private Flatland 73

CHAPTER 4: Predictive Models Judging Books by Their Covers 90

CHAPTER 5: Measuring Sticks and Toolboxes Calipers for the Brain 103



PART TWO: DIVERSITY'S BENEFITS: BUILDING FROM TOOLS



CHAPTER 6: Diversity and Problem Solving Darwin's Brass Tacks 131

CHAPTER 7: Models of Information Aggregation Mindless Signals 175

CHAPTER 8: Diversity and Prediction The Crowd of Models 197



PART THREE: DIVERSE VALUES: A CONFLICT OF INTERESTS (OR IS IT)?



CHAPTER 9: Diverse Preferences Why Tapas 239

CHAPTER 10: Preference Aggregation Four (Not So) Depressing Results 255

CHAPTER 11: Interacting Toolboxes and Preferences Go Ask Alice 285



PART FOUR: THE PUDDING: DOES DIVERSITY GENERATE BENEFITS?



CHAPTER 12: The Causes of Cognitive Diversity Family Vacations, College, or Identity? 299

CHAPTER 13: The Empirical Evidence The Pudding 313



PART FIVE: GOING ON THE OFFENSIVE



CHAPTER 14: A Fertile Logic Putting Ideas to Work 339

Epilogue: The Ketchup Questions 371

Notes 377

Index 411



"Does diversity trump ability when it comes to problem solving? Scott Page shows that the answer is, at least sometimes, yes. You'd do better to add more diversity of perspectives to your problem-solving team than to increase the average ability of individual team members. Diversity in both experience and identity can spark a group's creativity. Page pursues the logic of diversity and shows why and when hiring people who differ can lead to a better bottom line."'Ian Ayres, coauthor of Why Not? How to Use Everyday Ingenuity to Solve Problems Big and Small
Scott E. Page is professor of complex systems, political science, and economics at the University of Michigan and an external faculty member at the Santa Fe Institute. He is the coauthor, with John Miller, of 'Complex Adaptive Systems'.