This is the third part of a four-part series on issues of community and social cohesion in the United States. In the first part I made the claim that the US lacks a strong sense of community, and in the second part I outlined some of the underlying reasons for that. In this post I offer more reasons, focusing primarily on multiculturalism and its potentially negative effects. I am a proponent of multiculturalism and believe that on the whole its advantages outweigh its disadvantages, but the topic of this post is social cohesion, and viewed from this specific prism, I believe that multiculturalism can have detrimental consequences.
Last week I attended a talk at MIT by Michael Deem, a professor at Rice University who has done some very interesting work on the emergence of modularity in evolution. This is a topic that I have long thought about, as it seems that modularity is intrinsic to many biological phenomena, and it also seems that modular systems would by construction have certain internal structure that can be exploited in computational modeling. My thinking on the topic has been crude and qualitative, and so it was with some delight that I discovered Michael’s work in this area, as his group has placed this problem on very firm quantitative footing. The talk was thought provoking, and left me with genuinely new insights, something that happens with only a small, small fraction of the talks I attend.