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GOOGLE’S IDEOLOGICAL ECHO CHAMBER – HOW BIAS CLOUDS OUR THINKING ABOUT DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION: JAMES DAMORE – JULY 2017

Google Memo – The Core Document

I – The Google Memo: Four Scientists Respond

II – Google’s diversity efforts fall flat. Google has spent $265 million on diversity & recruitment w/out much change in workforce.

III – Transcript of Jordan Peterson’s discussion with Google memo writer James Damore.

IV – James Damore and his Google Memo on Diversity (complete 51 min with scientific references)

V – Jonathan Haidt and Sean Stevens collect the meta-analyses and weigh in on Damore’s main psychological claim:

Our verdict on Damore’s memo: Damore is correct that there are “population level differences in distributions” of traits that are likely to be relevant for understanding gender gaps at Google. Even if we set aside all questions about the origins of these differences, the fact remains that there are gender differences in a variety of traits, and especially in interest/enjoyment (rather than ability) in the adult population from which Google and all other tech firms recruit.

This distinction between ability and interest is extremely important because it may lay to rest one of the main fears raised by Damore’s critics: that the memo itself will cause Google employees to assume that women are less qualified, or less “suited” for tech jobs, and will therefore lead to more bias against women in tech jobs. But the empirical evidence we have reviewed should have the opposite effect. Population differences in interest may be part of the explanation for why there are fewer women in the applicant pool, but the women who choose to enter the pool are just as capable as the larger number of men in the pool. This conclusion does not deny that various forms of bias, harassment, and discouragement exist and contribute to outcome disparities, nor does it imply that the differences in interest are biologically fixed and cannot be changed in future generations.

 

VI – Google Memo: Beyond The Culture War – The Factual Feminist

“When the Google story first broke, I started to write an incendiary piece about how Silicon Valley is becoming a safe-space, trigger-warning culture. The terms “thought police” and “gender warrior” may have figured in the first sentence. But then I lost heart. Not because I think Google did the right thing I’ve just grown weary of culture war rhetoric.” – Christina Hoff Sommers

VII – Colleagues to the author of the Google Memo are now calling him a nazi and threatening him with violence.


VIII – More than half of Google employees don’t think James Damore should have been fired

IX – Science Totally Debunks That Shocking Manifesto That Got a Google Employee Fired.

X – What do scientists think about the biological claims made in the document about diversity written by a Google employee in August 2017? – Suzanne Sadedin

XI – Contra Sadedin & Varinsky: the Google memo is still right, again.

XII – No, the Google manifesto isn’t sexist or anti-diversity. It’s science.

As well, new research from the field of genetics shows that testosterone alters the programming of neural stem cells, leading to sex differences in the brain even before it’s finished developing in utero. This further suggests that our interests are influenced strongly by biology, as opposed to being learned or socially constructed.

Many people, including a former Google employee, have attempted to refute the memo’s points, alleging that they contradict the latest research.

I’d love to know what “research done […] for decades” he’s referring to, because thousands of studies would suggest otherwise. A single study, published in 2015, did claim that male and female brains existed along a “mosaic” and that it isn’t possible to differentiate them by sex, but this has been refuted by four – yes, fouracademic studies since.

XIV – DAVID BROOKS: Sundar Pichai Should Resign as Google’s C.E.O.

Which brings us to Pichai, the supposed grown-up in the room. He could have wrestled with the tension between population-level research and individual experience. He could have stood up for the free flow of information. Instead he joined the mob. He fired Damore and wrote, “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not O.K.”

That is a blatantly dishonest characterization of the memo. Damore wrote nothing like that about his Google colleagues. Either Pichai is unprepared to understand the research (unlikely), is not capable of handling complex data flows (a bad trait in a C.E.O.) or was simply too afraid to stand up to a mob.

XV – Why the Google affair is so deeply troubling.

I also wonder whether Google will impose its monoculture on the rest of us. Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., is arguably the world’s most powerful monopoly, a $90 billion-a-year behemoth that is a primary information source for billions of people. Its various services, including Google search and news and the YouTube video service, are governed by software algorithms created by the same people who can’t imagine working alongside someone like James Damore. How long before their personal opinions are reflected in the code they write?

XVI – Toby Young: This is a thread about gender differences and the scientific evidence that they are, in part, genetically based. Google Memo – Diversity Debate

It is prompted by some of the responses to my Spectator article about the #googlememo which you can read here. Several female journalists have challenged me to cite the scientific evidence I refer to, including @deborahross in today’s @thetimes.

Before I get into it, a few caveats.

First, don’t confuse aggregate, population-level differences with essentialist claims about *all* men and women.

Almost everyone who has condemned Damore, including the female Google employee who threatened to resign if he wasn’t sacked, misunderstood what he says about gender differences. When he claims that women in general have certain characteristics – such as a lower tolerance for high levels of anxiety – he is not saying that is true of all women. Rather, it is true of women in aggregate. To illustrate this distinction, take height. Saying that American women are, on average, five inches shorter than American men is not to say that all American woman are shorter than American men.

James Damore, the author of the #googlememo, illustrates this distinction with a graph:

It is remarkable how many people responding to the # misunderstand this elementary point about statistical distributions.

So I’m going to say it again: Saying that women have certain population-level characteristics is not to say *all* women have them. It follows that it would be irrational for an employer to discriminate against women by citing population-level female traits. Again, this point is almost universally misunderstood on the progressive left.

To repeat: Saying that there are population-level gender differences is not to advance a rationale in defence of sexual discrimination. Sexual discrimination is morally wrong and remains wrong regardless of whether or not gender differences are, in part, biological.

From which it follows that defenders of gender equality need not deny the scientific evidence about population-level gender differences. So I hope we’re clear. The evidence I’m about to cite has no bearing on whether sexual discrimination is right or wrong. It’s wrong.

Summary of 2 meta-analyses and 3 cross-cultural studies showing women are more interested in people than things.

That paper is by Richard Lippa, Professor of Psychology at California State University, Fullterton. Another way of expressing this population-level difference is that women are more interested in empathising, men in systematising.

E-S theory was developed by Simon Baron-Cohen and arose out of his work on why there is a higher incidence of autism among men. See here and here and here. Simon Baron-Cohen is Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at Cambridge and Director of the University’s Autism Research Centre.

There is also evidence that women are (at a population level) more prone to neuroticism, or ‘negative emotion’. But important to note that this is a smaller population-level gender difference than differences in agreeableness. Counter-intuitive point: The more gender equality there is in a country, the more manifest gender differences become. See here.

Fact that gender differences become more manifest, not less, as countries become less sexist suggests they’re partly biological. There is a good discussion of this and related points by @AneilOfficial in Quillette.

Plenty of robust evidence that men are more status-seeking than women (at a population level). See here. And here.

Also lots of evidence that women more interested than men in a better work-life balance (at a population level).

This discussion between Jordan Peterson and James Damore is worth watching. You may disagree with some of Peterson’s politics, but he’s a Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto and knows his stuff.

You are right to point out difference re aggregate but the problem is those generalisations are used to justify discrimination by the right.

XVII – Gad Saad on Facebook

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