Whatever your thoughts on the subject are, it needs to be pointed out that this type of journalism is absolutely not neutral (even though they will swear up and down that they are) and should be, at the very least, condemned for doing so. This is and will be an increasingly difficult problem, especially when people just read a headline and a summary.
>When journalistic institutions widely publicize material of this sort, only to abdicate the vital work of rigorously addressing its substance, they make its least plausible claims more likely to be normalized. They leave the project of assessing its merits and flaws to Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and other venues where the loudest voices tend to prevail, instead of offering their own careful reporting and expert analysis.
I buy this point so much because after reading about the controversy on the crazy 1000 comment thread here on HN and the other threads on reddit, there was no top level comment that made the same well reasoned claims this very article did, which IMO is so far the best I have read about the whole debacle. This is what journalists doing their job looks like.
But instead most of the media coverage seemed to be coming from a frame of, "don't validate fringe viewpoints by actually addressing their arguments", rather just ignore their arguments and use other tactics to undermine them. That strategy may have worked in the pre-Internet age, but in the Internet age it risks putting you on the wrong side of "first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.". In the Internet age the correct strategy for dealing with the fringe is directly addressing and discrediting their reasoning early, before they can create an echo chamber feedback loop.
But traditional media seems slow in general to realize that, in the Internet age, the fringe eventually defines the center unless stopped early. This episode appears to have been another manifestation of that.
This sort of criticism seems like motivated reasoning to me, and only comes out when current progressive dogmas are being challenged. When HN applies a scalpel the way you describe to the opposite viewpoint, often supported only with anecdotes, out come the complaints how people's lived experiences are being ignored, how it's proof of a cultural problem, and so on. Not to mention the flagging. It's rigor for thee and not for me.
The media and Google are the echo chamber when it comes to this topic, that's been demonstrated plenty. If they were capable of intellectually reasoning about it, they wouldn't be lumping together reasonable criticism with that of the fringe in the first place.
I'm all for challenging the orthodoxy, any orthodoxy, and I sense the gender diversity one has been constructed on not perfectly rigorous foundations and deserves to be challenged. But when you challenge an orthodoxy, fairly or not you're held to a higher standard of rigor, simply as a matter of effectiveness - come up short and you're easily discredited and dismissed. It's like you have to have PhD or equivalent level knowledge of something before your critiques can't be dismissed out of hand. That's at least part of what happened here, the memo just wasn't at that level, and thus was easily dismissed. Maybe the author will now use his in/fame/my to write a more comprehensive and rigorous paper (or book deal) on the topic.
>This sort of criticism seems like motivated reasoning to me, and only comes out when current progressive dogmas are being challenged. When HN applies a scalpel the way you describe
Repeat after me: "HN is not one person or one voice". At least some of us here apply this standard to everything.
This, when one of the memo's explicit points was about excessive dogma around the issue, and inability to have an open and honest conversation about it. The opposition isn't all shrill politically correct authoritarians, but some of them really do come off that way.
I can't imagine been so insecure in my beliefs that I'd actively refuse to engage with opposing viewpoints, in case I got 'polluted'!
Milo Yianoppolos, who most of the time markets himself as an anarchistic troll, will put on his serious face and claim that he is worried about trans people because it's a mental illness and he just wants them to be treated, rather than play along with their disease. And cite studies etc.
Then he'll have a rally and personally attack a trans student. Which isn't really how a serious scientist approaches the mentally ill.
He also attacks overweight people "for their own good" as they need to get healthy. Then he takes a picture of someone he sees at his gym to mock their weight as they work out.
The Bell Curve is a great proto-alt-right example, where the author will say with a cheeky grin that he never actually said that black people were genetically inferior, even though everyone who read it clearly got that message,whether they agree with it or not. And when he wrote a book saying black people have never contributed anything of any worth to music, why that's just objective science.
The Orwellian double talk of Trump is another classic example. More jobs via trade wars. Yes the author is right, a critique of pointless trade wars shouldn't be called anti-jobs, because journalist should be (and to some degree are) calling Trump's proposals anti-jobs themselves. Why on earth would you think this a valid example to give? It's an obvious con job.
So at some point, you realise that people are just playing a game with you.
But no, surely this man who thinks gay rights are a Marxist plot to take down capitalist America, surely he is only interested in seeking the unvarnished scientific truth?! Fool me once..
Murray ranks the leading 4,000 innovators in several fields of human accomplishment from 800 BC to 1950. In each field Murray identifies a number of sources (leading encyclopedias, histories and surveys) providing information about the leading figures in the field. The rankings are made from information in these sources. A raw score is determined based on how many sources mention and on how much space in each source is devoted to a person. Then these raw scores are normalized so that the lowest score is 1 and the highest score is 100. The resulting scores are called "Index Scores".
The book obviously wasn't written with the express purpose of saying "black people have never contributed anything of any worth to music." That's such a ridiculous mischaracterization, as if that was purpose of writing the book, geez...
It's interesting that you and many others trotting out obvious falsehoods these past few days think this is a wise strategy...
It's far more interesting to write about people that have done interesting, impactful, world-changing things. And that's what he wrote about, he didn't set out to write nor did he write the most boring book he could write, he wrote an interesting book about interesting people, actions, and ideas.
If the book doesn't have enough "diversity" for your taste,
No written language was ever devised in sub-Saharan Africa prior to outside influences.
There is no indigenous tonal music tradition in sub-Saharan Africa, apart from maybe singing. The only instruments native to the continent are unpitched percussion.
The wheel was never invented in Africa.
Sometimes reality is just reality.
Talking drums, djembes, balafons, xalams, koras.
You've also been uncivil many times on HN. Please fix this as well if you want to keep commenting here.
Is just plain wrong, see ( https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/comments/1nz7k6/were_... ) also it depends on what you mean by language, Genevieve Petzinger has shown a fully formed written cave art language going back since man (or woman) first started drawing in caves.
Except this only works with subsequent encounters with the same trickster. Those across your side of the political aisle are not a monolith, yet you assume they are all just a few shades off from Milo. If that's your impression, you should diversify your reading selections. Try John McWhorter, for example.
At some point you have to risk and generalizing when you see similar arguments brought up over and over otherwise "the other side" could continue to use the same tactic as long as they cycle through different people that haven't done it before.
Another quite non-rightist position cited in the W article: "the use of the word "thug" was becoming code for "the N-word" or "black people ruining things" when used by whites in reference to criminal activity."
I want you to be cautious about generalizing your past experience to future events.
And if you are (understandably, maybe) unwilling to carefully read, with an open mind, documents like the diversity memo - then maybe you should refrain from criticising it.
And actually is a lazy way to even hoodwink people. The correct way is to show a bias and then use the proverbial 'to be sure' statements but bury those later on where they are less likely to be noticed.
I'm torn by the two sides. On one hand I see the rational and level headed language in the memo versus the reactionary bait-click headlines. On the other hand I sense a mens' rights argument at the core of the memo that isn't very organized. The memo argued against discrimination against men in the hiring process, then suggested creating roles that won't fit the stereotypical male. That's discrimination at the role creation process! If google followed that advice, the author would still have something to be against.
The central point of the memo, from what I read, was that any gender discrimination to hire more women in the workplace necessarily discriminates against the men that would have otherwise gotten the job. Sure he made some good ideas for how to hire more women. But no matter how reasonable the language he used to couch his message, the essence was still against diversity because it will hurt the job opportunities of men.
Another underlying assumption here is that the technical merits of a candidate is the overriding quality to be considered for hiring. And since the pool of qualified applicants are male dominated, then any bias in hiring women will hurt the obviously qualified men. If technical abilities follow a normal distribution (and why not?), then more highly qualified men will be discriminated.
However, technical ability is not the only overriding quality and Google is trying to take the diversity of the team into account during the hiring process. Thus, Google is taking a grander view of not just considering the individual merit of the applicant, but applicant's impact to the team composition as well. This is equivalent to someone in Overwatch who has high stats in a game that won't change his character/behavior even though he does not help the team. Say the player has high elimination stats because they are fighting away from the main fight where his team is at a disadvantage (say holding down the point).
This is a textbook case of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. People who agree with the memo focuses on the parts. They think "hire more great parts = better team." But team composition is actually more important. People who labels the memo as anti-diversity are in favor of team comp, whether they know it or not.
But personally, the most important point of diversity for me is the end of sausage fest at work. Group conversations with one dominant gender day in day out kind of suck. This applies to either gender.
Agree, but how do you know that you won't be the one sacrificed in the name of diversity? How does one fairly choose which member of the more prevalent gets sacrificed if there is limited headcount? How do you prove that diversity generates more value than stronger individual members regardless of identity?
Well, you don't. Just like you don't know whether you will be one of the ones to get rejected from a Google interview that has famously high false negative rates. It's an unfortunate fact of life.
There are studies that show diverse teams have advantages. Some of them are linked in this article: https://hbr.org/2016/11/why-diverse-teams-are-smarter
Also, if I replace the term 'sausage fest' in your last sentence with 'clam bake' (apparently the opposite meaning), then it definitely comes off as sexist in my mind. I've worked with both genders throughout my career, and the only truth I've found is that you can't count on anyone to fit their gender's stereotypes with regards to personality. I've met plenty of men who are shy and quiet and plenty of women who are aggressive or assertive; counting on a person's gender to mix things up in a group setting is, in itself, sexist.
The author feels comfortable making the claim women are biologically more neurotic, in a professional setting, no less. His "citation" for this fact is Wikipedia. This is unimaginative sexist bullshit that everyone has heard before. That people feel the impulse to defend this is disgusting.
Whatever innate differences there are between men and women are small and nowhere near as big a factor in the gender-ratio as say, arrogant weirdos sending credos to their entire company declaring women unfit to work in their industry.
Nope. "Neuroticism" is a technical term, a big-five personality trait. Everyone has it to some degree and having less is not necessarily better, just like all the other traits.
What you are getting all riled about is "neurotic", which is related to a psychiatric condition (although the term is apparently no longer used – who knew?)
> declaring women unfit to work
Yeah, he didn't do that.
Please calm down and read the actual text. If things seem weird or rile-worthy, maybe ask first. Or look.
I did a little writeup, http://blog.metaobject.com/2017/08/the-science-behind-manife... there are probably others that are better.
So why did you then use "neurotic" and get all riled up about it when the document says "neuroticism", which is (a) nothing to get riled up about and (b) a simple scientific fact (as best we know)?
Wikipedia might not be the most credible source, but the differences in big 5 personality traits between men and women are well documented.
[Here's a study that finds the same, looking at > 17,000 people from 55 different countries.](https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Anu_Realo/publication/2...). There's plenty more on google scholar.
I find your defensiveness and inflammatory remarks more unprofessional and unproductive then anything else in this thread.
If you disagree with someone, be civil - debate with logic and rationality.
Thank God I'm getting old and will be exiting the workplace (relatively) soon. Repeating lies out of fear for your job is corrosive to the soul.
If anything, IME watching people fall into this trap is a pretty reliably useful indicator of someone's intelligence. I tried it the last few days with a handful of people with whom I'd never discussed politics: "Did you hear about that Google manifesto thing?". I tried it with 8 different people both at and outside of work, and every single time, the people who were uncritically outraged were the ones who I already knew were pretty stupid. Not a single person that I already knew was intelligent had this kind of wild-eyed negative reaction to a guy saying "maybe we shouldn't assume that differences in the employee population aren't due to differences in the input population".
FWIW, my personal best guess is that what biological differences there may be between men and women aren't sufficient to explain the tech gender gap. I just think that it's fucking insane to pretend that the science has conclusively shown that there are no such differences and to attack a guy who dares mention them. The notion that scientists can talk freely about something but laymen can't scares the shit out of me.
'The study findings of increased prefrontal cortex blood flow in women compared to men may explain why women tend to exhibit greater strengths in the areas of empathy, intuition, collaboration, self-control, and appropriate concern. The study also found increased blood flow in limbic areas of the brains of women, which may also partially explain why women are more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, insomnia, and eating disorders.
Actually it doesn't pain me... it really pisses me off that so many journalist are fooling people... particularly me.
When I read the bloomberg article (which I submitted to HN and now I want to just bang my head on the table for doing it) I was actually slightly siding with Google. Even though I was constantly telling myself "lets see the memo before judging" I could feel myself making a biased assumption.
I'm so annoyed with myself.
For example, "neuroticism" being just a technical term for a normally varying personality trait, not "mental illness".
That being said, this episode is an excellent example of why it is always best to avoid taking "sides." When someone takes a "side", the newspapers, data brokers, social media companies, advertisers, and everyone else rejoice in the profits of "engagement." Meanwhile, precious time in this life is wasted on a trivial concern, forgotten within a month.
However, I believe that there exists a growing extreme on the opposite side of the spectrum that believes there is no right or wrong, and thus we need to be accepting of everything that everyone has to say, which goes too far in my opinion.
I believe that it stems from multiculturalism teaching people that all cultures(and thus values) are valid, which is true on a global scale, but ignores the fact that having a particular culture locally helps in defining what is right or wrong socially and form a communal cohesion. I understand this is controversial. If you disagree, please comment so I may learn the flaws in my argument.
Unfortunately for me (and everyone) it takes me a lot longer to find the exact words for my frustrations in a situation like this. So I end up wanting to say inflammatory accusations like "PC-group-think witch-hunt," which captures my anger but doesn't really convince anybody on the other side (but rather escalates the tension).
The author cleverly brings both sides together by picking a starting point we all agree "Accuracy in journalism matters" and dissecting how that value was compromised [in this particular case] in order to promote another value: "Diversity matters."
Paul Graham describes such a technique in his seminal essay.
One way to do this is to ratchet the debate up one level of abstraction. If you argue against censorship in general, you can avoid being accused of whatever heresy is contained in the book or film that someone is trying to censor. You can attack labels with meta-labels: labels that refer to the use of labels to prevent discussion. The spread of the term "political correctness" meant the beginning of the end of political correctness, because it enabled one to attack the phenomenon as a whole without being accused of any of the specific heresies it sought to suppress.
Great point. While reporting on this memo isn't 'fake news', it is an example of reactionary, knee jerk, click bait journalism, which is a pernicious problem that stifles nuanced debate, and is probably doing more damage to our society than literal 'fake news'.
EDIT: In case people don't know what I mean by "pattern of events", I'm thinking of cases like the Christakis/Yale fiasco where people make reasonable, respectable, constructive critiques of progressive values and are met with popular outrage.
They know exactly what they are doing, and what they are doing is creating outrage and profiting from it in this eyeball-click-ad driven journalism economy.
Very few are going to have the wherewithal to forego hundreds or thousands of dollars in ad revenues for the sake of a slightly more gently or fairly worded headline or article. The incentives just do not match up.
"Google CEO cuts vacation short to address controversial memo that argued women aren't biologically fit for tech jobs "
"A Google engineer argued that women aren't biologically fit for tech jobs."
Then CNN converts that emotionalism and clicks and comments into ad dollars.
It's exactly why the media LOVES any controversial
"wedge" issues. They polarize people, and polarized people argue incessantly. And people who are arguing == views and ad dollars.
"However, portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace. [...] To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK."
It is a different kind of error than Gizmodo labeling the thing an anti-diversity screed.
> They know exactly what they are doing...
Because you referenced one of the most oft-quoted blunders of Rubio's 2016 primary campaign I can't tell if you're serious or not. It really detracts from the point you're trying to make.
 “And let’s dispel once and for all with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing.”
I deliberately referenced it because I wanted to convey that there was nothing implicitly wrong in the wording he (Marco Rubio) used, and that the blunder wasn't specifically about to the wording but the use to which it was put, and that the same wording _can_ be used properly too, as I hoped I did.
I've said this before, nice username.
I think we're just at the point where thinkpieces criticizing the initial wave of thinkpieces are now vogue and profitable.
(FWIW, I believe the wave of misleading or negative coverage of this memo is partly the fault of its means of original publication and distribution. Right, wrong, or indifferent, the way in which unorthodox viewpoints are offered to the public can dictate how they're received and interpreted, and this was not "groomed" to be received well, regardless of the merit of its arguments or lack thereof.)
The author makes shaky statements about gender, reinforcing sexist stereotypes. The author applies rationalist disclaimers, which enables already-sexist readers to feel that their sexism is rational. And, most distressingly, the author asserts that Google made a mistake hiring many of the women who work there. Actively making your minority coworkers feel unwelcome is an anti-diversity behavior, and it was an obvious and predictable consequence of how he chose to communicate.
I don't claim to know the author's intent, or how he truly feels about the women he works with. But, regardless of whether he's actually opposed to diversity, we judge words by their consequences. These words are thoroughly anti-diversity in consequence, and judging them in a vacuum is dangerously naive.
What so many comments about this memo don't seem to understand is that it it isn't possible to derive the author's intent from the text of their work. The intent of the author isn't included when the reader interprets their work, because the author isn't there to explain their intent. The reader only sees the work.
As you said, intent doesn't matter. When authoring a work, it's important to consider how the work might be interpreted.
 http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DeathOfTheAuthor (apologies for using a tvtropes link. It was better than Google's other suggestions)
This is not a recommendation, and it is not a value judgement. It's just a reality.
You're assuming that each piece of text has only a single possible interpretation when "research and critical thinking" are applied to its interpretation.
This is so far from the truth I'm not really sure what to say.
For the current topic, see e.g., https://www.quora.com/What-do-scientists-think-about-the-bio... You'd be hard pressed -- or perhaps simply obstinate -- to claim this piece is devoid of "research" or "critical thinking".
Beyond the current topic, your opinion becomes so obviously false I really don't know what to even say. As a base-line example, let's take any pair of 5-4 SCOTUS opinions on a constitutional matter. I suppose it's possible that half of the supreme court justices (and often slightly different halves) are routinely incapable of critical thinking of research to the text of laws and of the consitution. But that seems like an exceptionally arrogant explanation.
Believing "only my reading of the text is possible if you're remotely capable of research and critical thinking" is, for an author, an extraordinarily enormous mistake.
If you don't mind 100% spoilers for Davey Wreden's game "The Beginner's Guide", I highly recommend watching "The Artist is Absent". It's a surprisingly good introduction to semiotics, death of the author, and enunciation theory, which together explain why you can interpret the narrator of a work, which should never be confused with the author.
Is believing men and women on average have different hormone levels and generally speaking, this leads to different behaviors and proclivities, sexist?
Is admitting there is any difference between the two sexes, sexist?
Is using different pronouns for men and women sexist?
I honestly don't know where someone draws the line who finds this memo "sexist."
It uses the same core argument as sexism: women are less suited to certain tasks, perhaps biologically. And it reaches the same conclusion: we should roll back our pro-diversity and pro-empathy programs. A sexist person who reads this will therefore feel that it supports their views, and, because the argument seems rationalist, they'll conclude that their poor treatment of women is rationalist. That might not be the intent of the document, but it is a predictable outcome.
Words that validate sexist behavior, intentionally or unintentionally, contribute to the problem. Regardless of the merit of the underlying idea, or the valuable conversations it inspired, it's important to remember that the memo itself did harm. It's appropriate that some people are focusing on that.
Where do you draw the line on something like this? Are we allowed to publish statistics that show black people are proportionally more involved in crimes, or is this taboo because a white supremacist might use it to claim blacks are inherently criminal? What if you write something apparently neutral but some terrible person somehow finds a way to twist it to their ends? Do we get to condemn you ex-post-facto over this?
For one thing, the memo focuses on needlessly contentious issues, instead of sticking to actionable arguments. It's valid to say that decreasing stress in engineering and leadership positions might attract more women, because modern women tend that value that more. But framing it as a biological issue is hard to prove, and doesn't help support his logistical point. It only has the consequence of hurting people.
The memo also presumes that Google's full-time diversity experts haven't even thought of his concerns. He asserts that seeking out women necessarily lowers the hiring bar for them, instead of asking "How are we mitigating the risk that our pro-diversity push might itself introduce bias into our ideally gender-agnostic perf evaluations?" That's a valid question, and I'm sure Google's diversity team has answers, and I'm sure that some people wouldn't be satisfied with those answers. But jumping to the conclusion that Google's women must be less qualified than the men, just because he can't think of a way to mitigate bias in the hiring pipeline, is self-centered and disrespectful.
I'm very much in favor of a world where it's equally okay to express all ideas! But that doesn't mean we should be equally okay with all modes of expression. No matter which side we're on, we need to think first, then speak. Given the meta-thesis of the memo (especially the "prioritize intent" section), I'm not convinced that the author took much time to consider needs beyond his own.
What it sounds like you're saying is that saying women are on average more sensitive to stress based on extensive scientific research which implies a strong biological basis, is contentious and hurtful. But then for some reason saying modern women tend to put more value on a stress-free environment, based on nothing but an unsupported assertion, is somehow better?
I don't have a crystal ball, but I suspect you're being naive and that the outrage would have been much the same no matter how he'd chosen to frame this statement. The very assertion that men and women have some innate differences that might be worth exploring seems to be tantamount to blasphemy -- particularly when coming from a man!
> The memo also presumes that Google's full-time diversity experts haven't even thought of his concerns. He asserts that seeking out women necessarily lowers the hiring bar for them, instead of asking "How are we mitigating the risk that our pro-diversity push might itself introduce bias into our ideally gender-agnostic perf evaluations?" That's a valid question, and I'm sure Google's diversity team has answers, and I'm sure that some people wouldn't be satisfied with those answers. But jumping to the conclusion that Google's women must be less qualified than the men, just because he can't think of a way to mitigate bias in the hiring pipeline, is self-centered and disrespectful.
This is just you projecting your presumed intentions on the author. At no point in the memo did he claim or imply that Google's women are less qualified than the men. The only paragraph that can really be taken to say that is the part about "lowering the bar" for diversity candidates; Which is, admittedly, an unfortunate choice of words in retrospect. However the same sentence clarifies that the bar is "lowered" by decreasing the false-negative rate for diversity candidates, meaning those that are accepted are still qualified at the same standards. The sentence also includes a reference for this claim, but this is unfortunately to an internal Google group so we don't know its contents.
On the other hand, right at the start of the document the author takes pains (including a big colorful picture to illustrate the point) to point out that "you can’t say anything about an individual given these population level distributions," which should make it pretty clear that he's NOT claiming Google's female engineers are less qualified.
> I'm very much in favor of a world where it's equally okay to express all ideas! But that doesn't mean we should be equally okay with all modes of expression. No matter which side we're on, we need to think first, then speak. Given the meta-thesis of the memo (especially the "prioritize intent" section), I'm not convinced that the author took much time to consider needs beyond his own.
This is saying that one must choose his words like a politician and consider the reaction of the world at large when distributing a personal opinion document not intended for wide publication to a select group of individuals. The idea that one's career might hinge on using the proper newspeak in such a document is, frankly, terrifying to me. Do people have a right to be upset about his choice of wording or angry at his opinions? Sure, absolutely! But losing your career for this, over an opinion that is, arguably, not really harmful or hateful and expressed in a relatively considerate tone, is something else entirely.
In any case, I think I made a mistake suggesting specific improvements to the memo; lemme pop off the stack a bit:
It's not okay to publish a document to your coworkers that will predictably make them feel unsafe. Full stop.
When you want to express an idea at work, you need to engage in empathy, and try to express yourself in such a way that your coworkers will still feel safe with you. If you can't figure out how to express an idea without hurting your coworkers, then, yeah, you don't get to express it unless you figure something out :/ That's an appropriate workplace policy, and I'm comfortable with the general idea that freedom of expression is subject to some conditions. I know not everybody agrees with that prioritization, though!
More importantly, I'm just tired of articles like this one dismissing the social consequences lens outright. There's more than one valid issue being raised in our community right now, and the importance of one doesn't invalidate the others. Let's have both conversations: how to enable expression of less common ideas, and how to ensure that we express them empathetically. If we approach the problem thoughtfully, I think we can optimize for both :)
(BTW I edited this comment a lot during the first 30 minutes, and pretty significantly changed its contents. Sorry if that ends up being an issue!)
My problem is that Google as a company, at least as far as the Mountain View campus goes, apparently disagrees. My understanding -- and it's possible I'm wrong -- is that Google supports and encourages openly discussing a variety of topics at work, and the internal tool he used to publish his memo was designed and used exactly for this purpose. (What Googlers apparently describe as "an internal-only Reddit.") If this is true then he was fired not for discussing inappropriate topics, but for holding opinions the hive-mind finds disagreeable.
Either you as a company support discussing sensitive topics in the office, or you don't. If you don't that should be made clear and enforced equally for everyone. If you do then you can't pick and choose which opinions you approve of based on what's popular, and expressing a dissenting opinion should not, at the very least, be a fireable offense!
Weird how race realists use the same template.
In mentality, there may also be differences due to tens of thousands of years of different ways of gather food, even though those differences may be converged by education.
Denying existing differences is not leading to equality. Admit the reality and see if there's anything we can do to improve the situation.
Still, while both lenses are valid, I'm focusing on the consequences lens, because we're discussing an Atlantic article that tries to invalidate it. It's not misleading to call the memo "anti-diversity", if you're focusing on the memo's role as a social artifact rather than as a dissertation, and that's a valid perspective. Words often serve both roles, and it's important to consider both.
(Incidentally, I don't find the memo's argument to be especially sound, either, so it's not just that it was expressed carelessly—but that's sorta beyond the scope of this thread.)
if I had to summarize the memo with an "anti-..." prefix then I would say it's against artificially skewing the gender makeup of the workforce via preferential treatment of female applicants/employees over the discriminated male applicants/employees.
if that's what "diversity" means then I don't know on what logical basis you would be defending the "let's make sure we have a 50/50 gender makeup of the workforce even though the proportion in the applicant's pool is nowhere near that" position.
I myself (and from what I've read in that "manifesto" I believe this is author's position as well) welcome diversity - the 'IT sausage fest' is totally a downside - but not at the expense of ppl getting gender-discriminated.
Harvard University President Lawrence Summers [was fired] for
mentioning at a January 14 academic conference the entirely reasonable
theory that innate male-female differences might possibly help explain
why so many mathematics, engineering, and hard-science faculties
remain so heavily male.
Or as someone else has already phrased it nicely:
"After all, if freedom of speech means anything, it means a willingness
to stand and let people say things with which we disagree,
and which do weary us considerably."
but let's be clear: the memo was a political document (in the common sense of the word, rather than about government machinations). sure, james damore may have been trying to have an honest conversation (and honest discussion should totally be encouraged), but the guy's biases and position were clear right from the title onward. he was attempting to assert what he thought was a superior position and got shot down. now others who (secretly or otherwise) share some portion of that position feel vulnerable and defensive, and we get heated discussions driven by primal emotions using otherwise rational-sounding words. it's politics.
that's what the media is zooming in on, because that's where the charged emotions are. cynically, yes, that sells papers (or whatever), but less cynically, that's also where we collectively seem to want more discussion because the social norm is (potentially) shifting and not at all well-defined or collectively understood. the media didn't make a mistake so much as it instinctively cut right to the chase.
What were those "biases" and "positions", pray tell?
> vulnerable and defensive
You mean those that lied about what the guy wrote and then attacked that made-up wrongthink?
As an example, take the performance (and I do mean that literally) of Jim Acosta when he made a speech disguised as a question to Stephen Miller about the poem on the Statue of Liberty. Who told Mr. Acosta that what the public wants from its journalists are speeches instead of substantive questions?
It's often said that politicians want to be movies stars. these days it seems that the journalists want to be politicians and it's become a problem that Americans all over the political spectrum are beginning to see.
That's a myth.
The only real responsibility they have is to maximize profits for their shareholders.
"To your request of my opinion of the manner in which a newspaper should be conducted, so as to be most useful, I should answer, `by restraining it to true facts & sound principles only.' Yet I fear such a paper would find few subscribers. It is a melancholy truth, that a suppression of the press could not more compleatly deprive the nation of it's benefits, than is done by it's abandoned prostitution to falsehood.
Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowlege with the lies of the day. I really look with commiseration over the great body of my fellow citizens, who, reading newspapers, live & die in the belief, that they have known something of what has been passing in the world in their time; whereas the accounts they have read in newspapers are just as true a history of any other period of the world as of the present, except that the real names of the day are affixed to their fables. General facts may indeed be collected from them, such as that Europe is now at war, that Bonaparte has been a successful warrior, that he has subjected a great portion of Europe to his will, &c., &c.; but no details can be relied on. I will add, that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. He who reads nothing will still learn the great facts, and the details are all false."
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Norvell, June 14th, 1807
The gender-diversity topic is too charged to accomplish that. Seriously, I would challenge essayists from either side of the debate to write any significant words on the subject that does not "alienate the audience".
While that may be the case, however, it isn't like the uproar and misinterpretation couldn't have been predicted. Whatever the academic merit of the memo author's claims, the memo was thrown into a social context that was clearly primed for snap judgement.
Particularly regarding social issues, how we write is just as important as what we write. An effective argument connects and convinces, anticipating possible reactions and (mis-)interpretations of the reader.
The irony is that the memo is missing the necessary empathy and social awareness for the audience, qualities that the author attributes to women.
(1) X does A, and X expects that X doing A will have an outcome that is morally bad from X's point of view
(2) X does A, and if an arbitrary other person Y did A, X would expect it to have an outcome that is morally bad from X's point of view
(3) X does A, and you (the commenter) expect A to have an outcome that X would find morally bad
(4) X does A, and you (the commenter) expect A to have an outcome that you (the commenter) would find morally bad
(any others I missed?)
(1) seems like a strict definition of malice that is actually extremely rare in the wild (and I don't think anyone here has accused Gizmodo of), whereas (4) is catch-all but seems nearly indistinguishable from "Gizmodo did a bad thing" which is not a very ironic thing to say. (3) sounds more like an accusation of stupidity than of malice. (2) seems pretty close, but one might want to label it "hypocrisy" and it's not clear that it applies here - after all, it's not like the 10-something media outlets in the list who did roughly the same thing were visibly appalled at each other.
Maybe the interpretation should actually be something like
(2') X does A, and if an arbitrary other person Y did a thing A' that (you, the commenter? X?) deem(s) similar to A, then X would expect an outcome that X deems morally bad
(and natural candidates for A' would be right-wing "fake news" or HBD-style cherrypicking in the class of what the perpetrator themselves would perceive as "artistic embellishment and hyperbole to get across an essentially true and important point" but opposed parties would perceive as "intentional misleading"), but then the accusation of malice completely hinges on getting X themselves to agree that A and A' are actually similar. As far as I can tell, rejecting equivocation between extraordinary measures for the Good Cause and extraordinary measures for the Evil Cause is known to be fairly standard for the Social Justice movement, so it's unlikely that the comments in question would expect X to agree, and hence unlikely that the comments in question are implicitly accusing Gizmodo of acting out of malice.
The sentence that popped out at me is this one:
"I don’t think we should do arbitrary social engineering of tech just to make it appealing to equal portions of both men and women. For each of these changes, we need principled reasons for why it helps Google."
I think it's hard for women to understand this, because they are much more likely to have an intrinsic understanding of why pro-diversity social engineering makes sense. As a man, it has often not been obvious to me. I learned a long time ago to assume that women are right about gender stuff, and that assumption has done me extremely well. I've learned an incredible amount, and those acts of goodwill made women much more inclined to be gentle with me and explain things.
But I don't think institutionalizing that kind of trust is tactically feasible, and I'm not sure it would even be a good thing if it happened. Because I think pro-diversity policies will be strengthened, not weakened, if staff can form a rigorous story about how they help the company.
I believe affirmative action helps Google, so I don't think it will be impossible to tell that story, but it won't be easy. It will take work. Mostly because liberal circles don't really talk about it. Diversity is seen as a benefit to diverse people, and therefore good, 'nuf said, as the the Google VP quipped.
I think affirmative action is valuable for the reason the anonymous memo writer thinks it's problematic: because different people are different. I don't think if 50% of Google coders were women that Google would stay the same. I think it would become a very different because women have some differences from men in aggregate.
And so changing admission requirements to help more women get the jobs shouldn't necessarily be seen as lowering the admissions standards, it should be seen as changing the set of things that coders are allowed to focus on. And we should assume that we'll see a whole new influx of a different kind of men too, men who are more similar to the women in the middle of their bell curve, than the men at the middle of theirs.
But ideally the way that should happen is not by saying "let's take 50% women", but by saying "if we were to accept 50% more women, what new kinds of Googler would we be adding? How will those folks make Google stronger? How can we change our hiring criteria to find the best of that kind of Googler?" and yes, those criteria would bring in a lot more women, but they'd also bring in a smaller number of new men! And everybody involved would have an understanding of how Google was getting better. Those women would have more respect. Those men would be better appreciated, even as they were operating outside of old Google norms.
I will say, just ramming 50% more women into the culture is probably fine though. While I mostly agree with the memo's general thrust, that it would be better to do this a different way, I think the alarmism is a little out of place. It's certainly a problem that conservatives are afraid to speak up about gender issues, but I doubt that's Google's biggest culture problem right now.
Or am I missing some difference in what you are suggesting and what the memo suggested?
I intend to write the next generation search engine. Should Google reward me for that?
Thanks Google dude!
How about every article or video about cryptocurrency, PRISM, AI, 'Data Science' and a litany of other topics in tech? I have seen almost no 'tech' journalism of any merit, so I'm not surprised to see sloppy coverage of another complex issue. But that shouldn't stop meaningful HN comment threads :)
The fact is, the memo does not simply put forth a question for debate, it treats a massive legacy of misogyny in our culture as a feature, not a bug. He really genuinely sees no problem with a world that pushes people into gender roles. In fact, he thinks we should optimize for it. It's a selfish tantrum thrown by someone feeling a lack of affirmation - disguised as vague argument that he really understands people, tech, and companies much better than his bosses.
If you helps for you to remove anything about identity in here: it's as if someone posted a cruel, snide rant in defense of GOTO statements, attacking OO programmers. Not only is he wrong, he made an extended case for the wrong argument and did it in a way that inflict maximum company damage.
So yeah it would be a big ol' red flag.
That's merely your opinion, which clearly can be seen from the comments here, has disagreement.
> he made an extended case for the wrong argument and did it in a way that inflict maximum company damage.
How did he inflict damage on the company?
Whoever leaked this internal memo did the damage, but I haven't seen any witch hunt or firing in that regard.
1) Users flagged it. There are many reasons to flag a post - it's too political; the discussion is toxic; etc.
2) It set off the flame war detector. This is an algorithm that looks at stuff (who knows? Number of posts? Speed of posts? Depth of posts? Numbers of flags to comments? Amount of votes?) and penalises threads that trigger it.
3) In rare situations mods take action. The mods would be either dang or sctb, and they always say they've taken action.
Can we at least keep this one for substantive meta-commentary?
This is precisely why we're stuck where we are in the first place. If you allow people to call "dog whistle language" and attribute "malicious intent disguised as thoughtful rethoric", you give everyone a fully general counterargument against anything. I could accuse you right now of using "dog whistle language" and there's literally nothing you can do to prove me wrong.
Those ideas are conversational equivalent of bioweapons. Once people start to use them, everyone loses.
No it isn't. It's a failure to acknowledge the reality of society we live and the language that powers and enables the status quo. It's an uncomfortable truth and one that has been painstakingly dug up over decades, but for every two steps forward on this subject the powers that be cause us to take one step back. Your unwillingness to substantially acknowledge such realities is what is stagnating this conversation, because certain ideas and solutions need to be repeated over and over again and sometimes re-branded to make it more appealing to people who don't want to address the problems present in our society.
Here we have a "memo" that uses credible science but has conclusions and ideas completely detached from that science, and then when it is pointed out how incredibly shit his conclusions are, it suddenly becomes an issue about "free speech." It's pretty akin to the whole "states rights" branding that happens with certain other political conversations. It IS dog-whistle language and utilizing such language while pretending you're not, and even worse pretending like you're actually making a point, is incredibly counter-productive to advancing anywhere on gender/sexual issues for everyone. It's dishonest at worst and ignorant at best.
This whole topic has PG's psuedo-philosophical musing's stink all over it and it's quite nauseating to have to dig through it. It's the bullshit asymmetry principle in action.
What you're doing is, ironically, actually an attempt to shut down discussion. You're basically saying that an entire 50+ year historical record of politics in America isn't appropriate to bring up because, you claim, it might be used inappropriately to simply shut down debate.
> the tradeoffs of getting to a staff of 50 percent men and 50 percent women would be worth it (a position implicitly shared by every company that doesn’t have gender parity in its workforce)
If I have 1 employee and I'm a woman, it has to be a man. Otherwise I am implicitly sharing some viewpoint about diversity. Nonsense.
If you have to make that kind of declaration, then everything you say afterward contradicts it.
Above sweeping statements intentionally left without pedantic qualification because it accurately expresses my thoughts on the matter as written. Deal with it, Internet.
Thanks for saving me time in my future critical reading!
He starts off by saying he's not against diversity, but then spends the rest of the paper demonstrating the exact opposite, and then justifies it by claiming that men and women are biologically different, and that a lack of diversity is ok because of that, or that any perceived discrimination is ok, because it's not really discrimination.
And he uses the issue of "dialog" as a smokescreen. It's the same kind of tactic used by creationists wanting to "teach the controversy." They don't really want to honestly debate the merits of each position.
This isn't dialog, nor does he want dialog. It's simply him trying to justify his prejudice, and railing at "PC culture" for not letting him do so.
Looking forward to your solid rebuttals then! Woo!
> He starts off by saying he's not against diversity
> but then spends the rest of the paper demonstrating the exact opposite
Ummm, okay... You've got a positive assertion here, so you must have something solid here to back up your opinion, right?
> ..and then justifies it by claiming that men and women are biologically different... ...It's simply him trying to justify his prejudice, and railing at "PC culture" for not letting him do so.
Isn't that exactly what you're doing in your comment?
Got your own narrative going on, assuming the intent of the author...
> This isn't dialog, nor does he want dialog.
> It's simply him trying to justify his prejudice,
> They don't really want to honestly debate the merits of each position.
Like holy shit you spent the entire comment doing the exact thing you complain about the author doing.
This is the sort of mindset that kills progress, the inability to flirt with the concept of being disillusioned and truly question your own stance and bias. Its like you "mean well" and that's all that matter to you.
Idk man, you can't judge others on their ACTIONS and then only judge yourself on your INTENT.
(This is just an impression I have based on things I've read in the past, so I can't be sure.)
It is, arguably, the least important one. So much so, that it is a non-sequitur.