Open Thread and Link Farm, Lost Tricycle Edition

  1. McConnell Calls for Repeal of Obamacare After Republican Defections – The Atlantic
    “Repeal and Replace” has failed; McConnell and Trump are now both advocating for “Repeal Now, Replace Later.”
  2. Related: Repealing Obamacare without replacing it would be a disaster – The Washington Post
    Alternate link.
  3. Détour — A film by Michel Gondry – YouTube
    This ten-minute film, about a tricycle trying to find its way back to its owner, is pretty awesome. And it was shot on an IPhone. (Gondry is probably most famous in the US for co-writing “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”)
  4. What you should know about that really nasty anti-trans bill in Congress.
    I don’t think this bill could get through the Senate – it can’t be passed through reconciliation, as Charles pointed out to me, so it would need Democratic support to pass.
  5. A basic income really could end poverty forever – Vox
    Note the word left out of the headline – “universal.” Good article, though.
  6. Spectacular Online Responses to 13th Doctor Jodie Whittaker | The Mary Sue
    About time! But good for them. Now let’s see a non-white Doctor next.
  7. What’s the point of an anti-immigrant left? – Vox
  8. The gap between black and white infant mortality is creeping up again, leaving researchers puzzled
  9. California decided it was tired of women bleeding to death in childbirth – Vox
    “The maternal mortality rate in the state is a third of the American average. Here’s why.” Good long-form article. The US’s high maternal mortality rates could be reversed nationwide; if it doesn’t happen, the reason will be political, not medical. As Grace says, “The US doesn’t value women, as demonstrated by our maternal mortality rates.” (Thanks for the link, Grace!)
  10. Fresh trans myths of 2017: “rapid onset gender dysphoria” | Gender Analysis
  11. Easter Islanders Didn’t Cause Ecological Disaster on Their Island, New Research Finds | Archaeology, Paleoanthropology | Sci-News.com
  12. Black Girls Are Viewed as Less Innocent and More Adultlike Than White Girls: Study
    Thanks, Grace!
  13. Origami Squid and Octopus Sculptures That Pop Up When Dropped and an Origami Wolf That Pulls Its Mask Off
  14. Globalisation: the rise and fall of an idea that swept the world | World news | The Guardian
  15. Transgender People and “Biological Sex” Myths – Julia Serano – Medium
  16. The law expects civilians to remain calm even when police don’t | Charlotte Observer
    Police are provided with de-escalation training, but some civilian need to de-escalate cops to survive.
  17. How bosses are (literally) like dictators – Vox
  18. Pocahontas Was a Mistake, and Here’s Why! – YouTube
    This half-hour video essay, looking at how Disney’s approach changed between “Pocahontas” and “Moana,” is really excellent.
  19. Medicaid Worsens Your Health? That’s a Classic Misinterpretation of Research – The New York Times
  20. Medicaid is good for children and makes them better adults | The Incidental Economist
    Because Medicaid was originally implemented years apart in different states, there are interesting comparisons that can be made across states. (Hat-tip to Grace.)
  21. The Selfie Monkey Goes to the Ninth Circuit – Motherboard
    PETA, acting (they say) on behalf of the monkey, is suing the human photographer.
  22. Excommunicate Me from the Church of Social Justice | Autostraddle
  23. St. Louis minimum wage will drop from $10 to $7.70 | Local News | stlamerican.com
  24. And on the other side of the spectrum: Seattle City Council Passes High-Earner Income Tax – Slog – The Stranger
    Might not be legal, though – it’s going to take a lawsuit to find out.
  25. 4chan trolls want to ‘quell’ anti-Trump dissent by shutting down DIY venues and art spaces – The Verge
  26. What European Political Philosophy Has to Say Today (with tweets) · kpanyc · StorifyLengthy Twitter storm by a NYU history professor, arguing that it’s impossible to understand today’s politics (or the 20th century, really) without looking at the role of nationalism, and also that the Republican party cannot be said to be “conservative.”
  27. Japanese-American in Boston: Kimono Wednesdays protest postmortem.
    This very long (3 parts!) 2015 post, by a Japanese-American blogger who followed the Kimono protests closely and is very critical of the protestors, is well-written and had information I hadn’t read before.
  28. Steve Trevor, Joss Whedon, and the men getting in the way of Wonder Woman · For Our Consideration · The A.V. Club
  29. The most alarming Trump administration attack on voting rights might come from the Department of Justice, not from Kobach’s commission. | HuffPost
  30. And a longer-form article going deeper into the voter purge issue: These Three Lawyers Are Quietly Purging Voter Rolls Across the Country – Mother Jones
  31. Medicaid Beneficiaries Are Happy With Care : Shots – Health News : NPR
  32. Why does Trump’s voting commission want data it shouldn’t have? | TheHill
  33. One Person, One Vote: Estimating the Prevalence of Double Voting in U.S. Presidential Elections
    “We find their proposed purging strategy would eliminate about 200 registrations used to cast legitimate votes for every one registration used to cast a double vote.”
  34. Trump’s Trolls Are Waging War on America’s Civil Servants | Foreign Policy
  35. The World Doesn’t Mooch Off U.S. Health-Care Research – Bloomberg
  36. Unions’ Effect on Productivity – ProfessorBainbridge.com
    Storing this here in part because it’s relevant to an upcoming political cartoon.
  37. A Good Cartoon — mlk and civil rights protests in cartoons: then, as now
  38. Yasmine Weiss’s Strange, Intimate Portraits | Hi-Fructose Magazine
This entry posted in Link farms. Bookmark the permalink. 

102 Responses to Open Thread and Link Farm, Lost Tricycle Edition

  1. 1
    desipis says:

    About time! But good for them. Now let’s see a non-white Doctor next.

    Ugh. The show needs quality writing not more tawdry political statements. Jodie Whittaker is a great actor (Broadchurch was great) so I’m hopeful for the new season, however so is Peter Capaldi and that didn’t stop the latest season being quite poor. There’s a new showrunner too, so maybe that’ll help.

  2. 2
    Tamme says:

    “arguing that it’s impossible to understand today’s politics (or the 20th century, really) without looking at the role of nationalism”

    How could anybody possibly argue against this idea with any credibility?

    Also, the research on Easter Island isn’t “new” – the indigenous apocalypse hypothesis was discredited like twenty years ago, but like many other discredited hypotheses it has lived on in the popular imagination, and people who only engage with popular history get to imagine they alone dared to doubt it.

  3. 3
    Ampersand says:

    Aaargh! WordPress just ate my response. Okay, trying again:

    Desipis, there’s no conflict between casting people who aren’t white and quality writing. Nor is casting a white man any guarantee of good writing, as you admitted.

    And whether or not you can see it, the decision to cast 13 (14?) white actors in a row is a political statement. There’s no “let’s avoid politics altogether” option here; it’s just that people pretend that the choice to cast only white people in the lead isn’t political.

    Finally, quality writing isn’t a decision. No showrunner decides “hey, let’s have mediocre writing this season.” But even with good creators working in earnest, there’s no guarantee good writing will happen. This is an even worse problem for TV than for most mediums, both because of the two-many-cooks problem, and because creators commit to making a season before they’ve actually written it, so if inspiration isn’t there they have to film something uninspired, because they have contracts and deadlines. (I suspect this may have been part of the problem with “Iron Fist.”)

    I agree that a change in showrunner, at this point, brings hope that maybe next season will be better. But I’m allowed to favor more than one change at a time. :-p

  4. 4
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Re #4:

    In early June, Republicans in Congress introduced a really scary, no good, very bad bill targeting transgender people.
    It’s called “The Civil Rights Uniformity Act of 2017,” and while the name sounds innocuous enough, it’s actually a pretty blatant end-run around a question currently bouncing around the court system about what rights trans people have under existing federal non-discrimination laws.

    The history can be summarized, though of course it is really more complex:

    1) Over the course of many decades, legislatures passed a bunch of laws which prohibited certain types of discrimination based on “sex” and/or “gender.”

    2) Recent court cases are attempting to force the government to use modern definitions when it comes to application. To name a couple of areas, folks are trying to expand the application of the words “sex” and “gender” to include, for example, sexual preference, trans status, and gender presentation.

    3) Most people seem to agree that the legislatures of old did not intend the more-modern definitions. IOW, to the degree that a decades-old Congress barred “discrimination based on sex,” the congresspeople were much more conservative; they almost certainly were not intending to protect transsexuals.

    4) People strongly disagree about whether that original intent matters. And how much it should matter. And how far people can go from intent when they are evaluating laws. This is a fascinating and old debate, you’re already familiar with the question of how to analyze the ban against “cruel and unusual punishment” (our cruel or their cruel?), or the “right to bear arms” (modern arms, old arms, what does ‘bear’ mean?)

    5) People also strongly disagree about whether this matter should be solved by the legislature (who obviously has the ability to clarify things with a single vote; it is their job and why they exist) or by the courts.

    6) But no matter which side you are on, there is no realistic way in which a legislature, by considering a law and thereby doing the job for which it exists, is doing an “end run” around anyone.

  5. 5
    Ampersand says:

    Tamme – thanks, that’s interesting.

  6. 6
    Ampersand says:

    By the way, I’ve only watched one Capaldi episode (“Listen”), and I’m thinking I’d like to watch one or two more. If anyone has a particular episode they’d recommend, I’d be interested.

  7. 8
    Chris says:

    Ampersand–I found Capaldi’s first season especially dreary, but a great episode from Season 8 is “Mummy on the Orient Express.” Most episodes from that season portray the Doctor as quite joyless, and his relationship with the companion is completely lacking in warmth and defined by manipulation and insults. It’s bad. But that episode manages to recapture some of the compassion and fun of Doctor Who.

    Season 9 is a tremendous improvement, and I’d highly recommend the two-parter with Maisie Williams, as well as the following tw0-parter, “The Zygon Invasion,” which has some problems but is still fascinating even if the politics are flawed.

    Season 10 is mostly worth watching for Bill and Missy, but the stories themselves almost all start off really interesting before rushing toward limp, careless endings. Bill is a breath of fresh air, though, and Missy has the most successful character arc of any character in the Moffat era.

    Finally, quality writing isn’t a decision. No showrunner decides “hey, let’s have mediocre writing this season.” But even with good creators working in earnest, there’s no guarantee good writing will happen. This is an even worse problem for TV than for most mediums, both because of the two-many-cooks problem, and because creators commit to making a season before they’ve actually written it, so if inspiration isn’t there they have to film something uninspired, because they have contracts and deadlines. (I suspect this may have been part of the problem with “Iron Fist.”)

    I actually think Doctor Who has the opposite of the “too many cooks” problem. From what I understand, the show does not have the “writer’s room” structure that we’re familiar with in America. It seems like the writers work mostly alone, with approval from Moffat. And no one seems to be able to tell Moffat “no,” which is why he’ll have a million good-but-contradictory ideas, and then instead of choosing between them, he just does all of them. Which is why Clara had about 14 different exits as a character, all of them fitting, but collectively exhausting.

  8. 9
    nobody.really says:

    On Dr. Who’s head writer:

    [H]e’ll have a million good-but-contradictory ideas, and then instead of choosing between them, he just does all of them.

    I’m not a regular. But I saw the last Christmas episode with Riversong and loved it. Of course, by just catching an episode here or there, I’m not going to notice inconsistencies, repeated plots, etc.

  9. 10
    Mandolin says:

    Moffat did sloppy epics. So did Davies, but in a different way. I sort of expect the new person to do sloppy epics of a whole new variety.

    I know I would. It’s incredibly difficult to wrestle this sort of thing.

    Individuals tend to be more sensitive to some types of sloppy epics than others, which is right and normal.

    Hardly anyone does them non-sloppily, especially in universes like Doctor Who where there are very few solid grounding elements you have to pay attention to. When you end up weaving magic-v-magic science-v-science omnipotent-v-omnipotent, you’re making up your own rules, and it’s easy to lose internal consistency.

  10. 11
    Jake Squid says:

    Everything that Chris says about Capaldi, I agree with. It was clear from the very beginning that the CapaldiDoctor/Clara pairing was terrible. The characters didn’t mesh at all and Capaldi was indeed joyless. I think they were coming at that from the trauma the Doctor had just endured. But I dunno. Capaldi is infinitely better in the 2nd season. So much so that I wish he’d stuck around for one more season just to see where he’d go with it.

    Also, Bill. She’s just a much more interesting companion to me than Clara ever was or could be. But that’s just my thing. Same way as I believe Amy Pond was one of the most viciously selfish long-running characters I’ve ever seen (and, godlike things, I could go on about that for hundreds of thousands of words). No one else seems to share that interpretation, so my perceptions may not be valid for you.

  11. 12
    Chris says:

    nobody.really–

    I had mixed feelings on the majority of that episode, but the ending was beautiful, and the first time I actually believed in the Doctor’s love for River.

    Mandolin–

    You’re right. I initially loved what Moffat did with the show when he took over, as I was tired of Davies’ histrionics. But looking back, I think Davies handled human emotion better than Moffat. Especially looking at the complexities of the Doctor/Amy/Rory/River dynamic, there were certain twists that Moffat pulled out and then swept them under the rug, and I can’t imagine Davies ignoring the emotional fallout of that dynamic the way Moffat did.

    Jake–

    Oddly, Clara wasn’t much better with Smith’s Doctor. In that season, she had no personality…but it was bizarre to me that the fix for that in Season 8 was to give her a horrible personality. Yet I also picked up on some sexism in some fan communities during that season–every negative trait Clara embodied that season, Capaldi’s Doctor was also guilty of, yet she was pilloried by some of the same fans who immediately liked Capaldi’s Doctor.

    It’s amazing how much both characters were able to recover in S9, but I agree Bill was a much more fully realized person from the beginning of her tenure than Clara was after three years. Though I think the writers dropped the ball on her development in a few places last season.

  12. 13
    Mandolin says:

    I think Clara had a brilliant personality – in two episodes. The one where she was a governess, and the one where she was a Dalek.

    Then they sort of… lost her. I’m not sure how. But she wasn’t ever distinct. I felt like the actress was doing a decent job, there just wasn’t much there for her.

    I wonder if Moffat was trying to avoid the criticism he gets of his handling of female characters and ended up creating someone blank instead? Or something else I’m not seeing.

    People complain about Moffat’s female characters, but to be honest, I don’t think he’s bad at them. Or at least, not bad at them compared to other writers. There’s a bunch of gently sexist stuff in the Davies years. It just looks like the sexism some gay men show, rather than the sexism some straight men show (there can be differences). Moffat seems to create lady characters he thinks are sexy. On the one hand, I’d like there to be more lady characters who aren’t like that. On the other, at least he thinks interesting people are sexy.

    He threw several bones to the female fandom, I feel, in creating powerful and intriguing female characters who could parallel the doctor’s grandeur — just not on screen. Clara and Me traveling the universe, River traveling the universe, the Mistress traveling the universe. I always wondered to a certain extent whether this was part of a conciliatory “you’re not going to get a female doctor, but look, there are powerful women, too.”

    I remain floored there’s a woman doctor now. I really thought it would be a MOC first. (No comment on which would be better.)

  13. 14
    Mookie says:

    Also, the research on Easter Island isn’t “new” – the indigenous apocalypse hypothesis was discredited like twenty years ago, but like many other discredited hypotheses it has lived on in the popular imagination, and people who only engage with popular history get to imagine they alone dared to doubt it.

    The article Amp links to indicates that the ‘ecocide’ theory lost traction ten years ago, not twenty, so it’s quite true that the prevailing understanding of how Easter Island was cultivated is not novel, but I don’t understand why you are characterizing a study that adds additional data to support that theory as “not new.” It is new; it was published in June of this year. What am I missing here?

  14. 15
    Chris says:

    Mandolin–

    I was so bummed when they went with a “present day” version of Clara Oswald, after introducing a future version and a Victorian version, both of whom were way more interesting and dynamic. I’m holding out hope that the next companion will not be another 21st century London girl.

  15. 16
    Ortvin Sarapuu says:

    @Mookie: It says this study “finds” that the internal collapse didn’t happen. Usually that implies the revealing of a new idea.

    If I published a paper “finding” that George Washington was the commander-in-chief of the American revolutionary armed forces, I’d be LOL’d off the stage, and quite rightly too.

  16. 17
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Oregon parents lose their kids solely due to low parental IQ (no abuse, just concerns regarding future.)
    http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2017/07/parents_with_intellectual_disa.html

  17. 19
    RonF says:

    This happened while I was serving as Program Safety Corps staff at the Ropes station at Jambo Friday:

    Timber Rattlesnake was spotted on the trail.
    Summit (the name of the camp where the Jamboree is being held) Operations was called.
    The snake is dispatched with a 9mm pistol.
    The U.S. Army aid medic who is on site cuts its head off with an axe and its rattle off with shears.
    A Scoutmaster skins and guts it in front of a curious and admiring crowd to provide the medic with it’s skin for a hat band.
    I have video of the latter operation if anyone is curious.
    I love Boy Scout camp!

  18. 21
    Mookie says:

    @Ortvin Sarapuu

    It says this study “finds” that the internal collapse didn’t happen. Usually that implies the revealing of a new idea.

    You objected to “new,” not “finds.” And reading past the headline, you’ll discover no one is claiming that the scientists involved “discovered” “a new idea”; rather, they discovered data that supports a decade-old theory that pre-dates their work.

    From the link, highlights bolded:

    The new findings, published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, support the idea that the story of Easter Island is more interesting and complex than assumed. […]

    “It continues to support the new narrative that we’ve been finding for the past ten years.”

    You, again,

    If I published a paper “finding” that George Washington was the commander-in-chief of the American revolutionary armed forces, I’d be LOL’d off the stage, and quite rightly too

    Has anyone ever claimed otherwise? Has that alternative history been widely embraced, only for new data to emerge contradicting it? If so, yes, it would be perfectly valid for a journalist to mention a now-debunked narrative while reporting the discovery of evidence that clarifies the historical record. To fail to contextualize this would be an absurd and suspicious obfuscation for no apparent reason.

  19. 22
    Ortvin Sarapuu says:

    “You objected to “new,” not “finds.” And reading past the headline…”

    Yeah, honestly I was more criticising Amp’s summary of the article than the article itself.

  20. 23
    Ampersand says:

    My summary of the article was literally just me using the “copy headline and url as html link” function. :-p So I think you’re objecting to the headline. But yes, now that I’ve read this discussion, I agree that the headline is inaccurate, and I should have written something else rather than just go with the low-effort default.

  21. 24
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Sometimes my job is really frustrating. Often this happens when representing people who are unable to choose the “best choice out of a bunch of bad choices.”

    Let me illustrate.

    I am trying to help this family who is being evicted*. They’re being evicted because they signed a lease which ended months ago.
    The lease was pretty long (they were in their home for a while) which was a good choice on their part. Unfortunately they did not spend their time looking until right at the end of the lease, for various reasons.

    So they “don’t have anywhere else to live” because they “can’t find anywhere else to live.” Now of course there are other places to live. And they are easy to find; my clients work online and they or I can find them in two minutes or less. But they are not places that these folks want to live. And I don’t blame them: I also wouldn’t want to live there.

    The landlord keeps offering them some very attractive settlement offers (I am doing a good job here.) But no matter how much I work with them they are mentally incapable of choosing any option. And I mean that literally. What they demand is almost always in conflict.

    For example,
    they want to stay longer. OK; I get them a settlement which prolongs eviction until the fall. Will that work? Nope: if they find somewhere better/cheaper/nicer; they want to be able to break their lease.

    OK, would you like a settlement where you leave soon? Nope, we don’t have anywhere to go and it is not possible to move (not true; I have other clients in similar situations; they move.)

    OK, would you like to stay indefinitely at XX rate? No, we don’t like that rate.

    OK, would you like to fight this in court, even though you’ll lose? No, we don’t have the money to lose.

    OK, would you like to settle? No, we don’t have the money. We can’t even afford a hotel, we would spend X but there aren’t any.

    Actually, I found you a hotel at half the rate you said it costs. Want to go there for a few weeks while you work this out, so you don’t lose a shitload in court? No, we won’t stay in a hotel.

    Do you want to go to court? I think you’ll lose all your money.
    And you’ll be evicted very, very, soon.
    No, we don’t.

    OK, are you telling me you want to stay for free as long as possible, hide your money in your mattress, and declare bankruptcy after you’re evicted? No, we’re honest people and we pay our debts.

    This is super common.

    It isn’t the poverty that screws these folks over. It’s that they live their lives on an ultra-short-term basis. And they lose a lot of their ability to make good long term decisions, or even to really consider things. So no matter how much i can try to help them avoid a bad short term decision (and I keep telling them “if you don’t decide that means you’re going to court”) they will not make ANY decision at all.

    Sigh. It’s like they think that the landlord (who is not rich either, it’s a single family rental) is going to say “oh no problem you can stay forever without rent and move out whenever you want; it’s all my fault and you’re such nice people; forget about the lease.”

    *some details changed for obvious reasons

  22. 25
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    It isn’t the poverty that screws these folks over. It’s that they live their lives on an ultra-short-term basis.

    should be
    It isn’t just the poverty that screws these folks over. It’s also that they live their lives on an ultra-short-term basis.e.

  23. 26
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Amp, you linked to this via twitter but it should also probably be here, it’s an interesting article on the laws regarding Israeli boycotts:

    https://dsadevil.blogspot.com/2017/07/a-non-hyperbolic-non-apologetic.html

    I think the speech issue is bigger than Schraub describes and I am therefore more opposed to the bill than he is. SO while I hope folks here will join me in opposing the bill, it is nonetheless an interesting and well written analysis.

    A good competing take is here:
    https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/josh-ruebner/new-us-bill-would-punish-settlement-boycotters

    Note: I am generally pro-Israel and I would not participate in boycotts of Israel but I’ll be damned if I think we should make them criminal. Ruebner has the right legal argument although I don’t agree with his perspective.

  24. 27
    Harlequin says:

    As regards desipis’s link @20: Hmm. I had a reaction to that article roughly equivalent to the reaction the author has to the things he’s rebutting: the sense that he’s got a point but it’s way overstated and involves some bad interpretation of evidence. Sure, the essay contains some good rebuttals to the argument “gender gaps in STEM are entirely or mostly caused by explicit discrimination.” But I don’t think that argument is as widespread as the author seems to think.

    I had a whole long thing written up which I can post more of if anyone’s interested, but actually it’s not that interesting, so to boil it down: 1. The author claims that some studies show discrimination exists, but not that the discrimination explains the gender gap in STEM fields. I would make the same claim about some of his evidence: it shows that differences in preferences exist, but not that differences in preferences explain the gender gap either. 2. The differences between physics, math, and engineering basically show that inborn preferences can’t really be the entire difference–math is more abstract and thing-y than either engineering or physics but has more women than either. (More detailed preference studies replicate that pattern, but the more detailed ones are all on teenagers or adults, after societal stereotypes about gender are well-ingrained, and after some discrimination has already occurred; also, as is pointed out in one of the studies the author links–but not discussed by this particular essay–students’ self-perception of their math ability, not just their actual math ability, was correlated in some cases with choosing a STEM career.) And 3. the supposed evidence for scientific overreach in discussing bias is either extremely weak (citation counts), or assumes that even if discrimination is shown to make an impact in lots of situations, we must start from a premise of no discrimination in every single new situation–which seems counter to the scientific process in itself.

    Again, it does have some interesting points, but it’s very far away from reasonable proof that preferences dominate over discrimination in explaining the STEM gender gap.

  25. 28
    Ampersand says:

    I had a whole long thing written up which I can post more of if anyone’s interested,

    I’d be interested!

  26. 29
    nobody.really says:

    This happened while I was serving as Program Safety Corps staff at the Ropes station at Jambo Friday….

    Very nice. But what about when Trump urged the scouts to tell their congressmen to eliminate funding for the Program Safety Corps?

  27. 30
    RonF says:

    Funding for the Program Safety Corps? Hah! I know you’re kidding, but I paid $425 to go there for the week. I also paid my own transportation (I carpooled for a 9-hour plus breaks trip) and spent money on some new uniforming and a new piece of gear. The latter was a solar shower, a plastic bag with a hose and nozzle that heats up 5 gallons of water in the sun so I could take a warm shower at night before I went to bed. Plus what I spent on patches and other stuff for gifts when I got back.

  28. 31
    Chris says:

    What’s your take on the Trump speech to the Boy Scouts, Ron?

  29. 32
    RonF says:

    I listened to the entire speech via YouTube. He made a number of good points regarding the values and methods of the B.S.A. and how they align with American ideals and exhorted the Scouts to be loyal, to work hard, to uphold their values and maintain their principles, and to persevere in the face of obstacles in order to succeed at life. He also introduced a couple of his Cabinet members who were Scouts as examples. Good stuff.

    He also made some politically-oriented remarks that had absolutely no place in such a speech, and I wish he had not done so. They were detrimental to the purpose. From what I’ve read, the text I refer to in my first paragraph had been reviewed with National Council. There were a few spots where it said something along the lines of “[insert personal remarks here]”, which is usually where the speaker would make reference to their experiences in or with Scouting or some other personal experience. Apparently that’s where Pres. Trump threw in his political commentary. That was highly inappropriate.

    The first National Jamboree was held in 1937. FDR was invited to speak and did so. Every President since then has been invited to address the National Jamboree (which is held every 4 years). Seven have done so in person. Nancy Reagan appeared in her husband’s place because at the time he was recovering from a gunshot wound. Pres. Obama sent a pre-recorded video instead in 2010 and 2013. I’m told by people who were there that it was booed because he did not show up in person and it was known to all that at the time the video was shown he was all of 47 miles away appearing on The View instead. I don’t know what happened in 2013 (the 2010 Jamboree was held in an anomalous year because it was the B.S.A.’s 100th anniversary).

  30. 33
    Jane Doh says:

    @desipis
    I am in a STEM field resulting from a STEM major. People just get tired of fighting for acceptance all the time, and smart people have other options. I know many people from groups underrepresented in STEM fields (not just women) who have left for that reason.

    I had it pretty easy, but yet before finishing grad school, I’d already experienced the following things:
    1. Having my exam results announced to the class (the only person singled out this way), while being told it was pretty good for a girl
    2. Being asked to get coffee for a senior scientist I never met before during the coffee break at a conference
    3. Having my ideas ignored until repeated by a male colleague (this is really common, and still happens)
    4. Being told several times that I got my position because of my gender
    5. Stood in a group of people discussing science at a conference who decided to move to a strip club to continue the conversation
    6. Been hit on many, many, many times at conferences by fellow attendees and exhibitors (and I am not particularly good looking or charming!)
    7. When I was visiting grad schools to decide where I wanted to go after being accepted, at EVERY SINGLE SCHOOL a current female grad student pulled me aside and told me which professors I should not be alone with in a room with the door closed.

    It is exhausting having to demonstrate you belong all the time, even if the rest of the playing field were level. If I liked another field as well, I may have chosen that instead too. I hope things are better now, but I wouldn’t count on it. When I was a kid, I was told that men and women had equal opportunities, and it was a bitter disappointment to find out how untrue that was in reality.

    I agree with Harlequin–math is way more abstract than either engineering or physics, but there are more women there. Biology has less to do with helping people than engineering does, but has more women. Women want to “help people” because girls are steered that way as kids, not because of anything innate. In other cultures (Eastern Europe, for example), there are many more women in STEM fields.

  31. 34
    RonF says:

    Jane Doh, based on both my own experiences and on women I’ve spoken to:

    2. Many years ago I was a new lab tech. A female senior lab tech and I were sitting in the lab at our desks while Dr. Whosit was out. A vendor rep came in, breezily asked the female lab tech to get him some coffee on the presumption that she was a secretary (and she had a lab coat on) and proceeded to address his remarks to me. I suspect this has changed a good deal, but I remember her getting quite angry – which he found out when I immediately referred him to her, using her correct title. I rather expect this kind of thing happens much less often, but it was memorable.
    3. This happens now, but it is hardly limited to STEM. It happens in business/commerce as well.
    6. Guys in STEM are in a work environment where they have as much opportunity to meet nearly as many women as men in other disciplines do (both at work and in off-work social gatherings) and also tend to factor in a woman’s intelligence into how attractive they find her than guys in in other disciplines do. They also tend to be less socially adept. So yeah – you’re going to get hit on more. I don’t see this changing.

    Biology has less to do with helping people than engineering does, but has more women.

    I am not so confident that this is as readily quantifiable as you seem to think it is. I’d argue the opposite, but in any case I’d say it’s far more a matter of opinion than fact, and many people would perceive the opposite. And I suspect that the perception would be that biologists and those who are in a discipline using biology are more likely to be hands on with people rather than machinery than engineers are.

  32. 35
    Jake Squid says:

    Interesting (to me) healthcare note:

    I was talking to our insurance broker today about the renewal for one of our companies. The current chaos of health legislation came up. Now, the insurance broker was sure that the ACA was going to be terrible for business and for him around the time it was being passed and implemented. Today he said that if the mandate is repealed, the health insurance industry is done.

  33. 36
    RonF says:

    #6 – “Guys in STEM are in a work environment where they do not have as much opportunity …”.

  34. 37
    Michael says:

    Re: the question of whether sexual harassment is driving women out of STEM- the question isn’t whether there’s a significant amount of sexual harassment but whether or not the amount of sexual harassment is greater or lesser in other fields. Women have reached considerably greater percentages in other fields than in STEM. (Of course, it’s VERY difficult to judge sexual harassment between industries. All you have to go on is personal anecdotes of women who have spent time in both fields.)

  35. 38
    Jane Doh says:

    RonF, I realize this. It is an unfortunate mathematical reality that in a heavily male dominated field, even “respectful” hitting on gets very tiresome, and that is before the drunk passes, the creeps, and the ones who don’t want to take no for an answer show up. It isn’t anyone’s “fault” per se, it is just that it gets wearying enough that some people decide to switch to fields where this is less of an issue. I attended a scientific conference 5 years ago where I was one of 3 women in the plenary session in a room of 511 scientists (it was really boring, so I counted to stay awake when I noticed how strange the room looked). Even if 10% of the men made passes, that is an average of 16 or 17 per person at a single meeting!

    The women I know who represented their companies at COMDEX and CES were often mistaken for “booth babes” and treated really horribly (not that models deserve to be treated poorly either, but most of the abuse apparently happens when the attendees ask to speak with someone knowledgeable).

    That’s not to say that culture doesn’t also turn men away–I know quite a few men who left academic physics due to the “pissing match” culture commonly found there. I just think it is more common for women.

  36. 39
    Harlequin says:

    Okay, the longer thing! :)

    This is more an expansion of some of the things from my previous comment.

    The author uses a chart of percentage of women in graduate enrollments to make some claims about discrimination. First, he points out (correctly) that graduate school is, on the whole, dominated by women–fine; but the essay is about STEM fields. He seems to be making this point so he can make a claim that, supposedly, people who point to a gender gap in STEM as evidence of discrimination ought to point to the gender gap in graduate enrollment as a whole as evidence of discrimination against men. But that misses that 1) people definitely are discussing why men are attaining less higher education than women; 2) there’s an implicit “plus we know women have been and still are discriminated against” point that lots of people don’t bother spelling out because it’s considered so obvious to their usual conversational partners. (For the sake of argument, that may or may not be true, but that’s an argument over whether their assumptions are correct–not an argument that they’re being hypocritical, which he seems to implicitly make.)

    But let’s turn to the “hard” science fields (engineering, math, physics, geoscience/earth science, and computer science). Throughout, the author speaks of women preferring careers with people to careers with things. But, as I said above, if that was the main explanation of the STEM gender gap, the ordering of the percentage of women in hard STEM fields is all wrong. Here’s the link for the 2015 doctorate recipients survey by the NSF showing the breakdown by field and gender–I like this one because it breaks it down into fields and subfields, which the graduate enrollees data I’m familiar with doesn’t do. (Note that Ph.D.s are still male-dominated, even if Ph.D.s+masters’ students are female-dominated.) Breaking it down into subfields can be misleading in some cases–for example, plasma physics has the lowest percentage of women of any physics subfield, but the numbers are small and the few schools that give out plasma physics Ph.D.s are not typical of physics graduate programs as a whole, so it’s hard to distinguish down how much of that is because those schools are low on women generally vs some other kind of bias.

    The numbers have actually changed a bit since the last time I looked at them: engineering and computer science have both brought their numbers up, to 23.2% for engineering and 21.1% for computer science, vs physics still hovering at 19.7% (20.7% if you include astro, and let me assure you that no two people in the field agree on whether or why you should!). Math is still higher than all of those, though: 28.6% as a whole, or 25.7% if you exclude statistics which is 40% female. Still, the ordering “physics, comp sci, engineering, math” doesn’t make sense in the way “engineering, comp sci, physics, math” also doesn’t make sense, if you assume it’s all controlled by innate preferences for people vs things.

    There’s an article the author links to in a clause about correlation not equaling causation (I’m not sure if the linked article is supposed to be an example of that or a refutation of the incorrect assumption), and the explanation is that the percentage of women in a field is linked to perceptions that that field requires genius. The link to genius explains some stuff that’s otherwise hard to explain, like why music theory and composition tends to sit around or below 30% women Ph.D.s, even though that’s artistic (less math-brained) and on average low-paid (which, devil’s advocates often tell me, is one of the things that will make a field more female-dominated since women don’t feel as much pressure to support a family). But famous composers? Definitely a genius bias there. Physics has a serious genius problem: it was repeated to me many times during my schooling (by peers, not by teachers) that everyone who’s made major phyics discoveries has made at least one of them by age 28. I have no idea if that is true, but people discuss it a lot: like 28 is the age you die, as a physicist, if you haven’t done something brilliant yet. (Thankfully, this died off once I was…well, over 28. Maybe people stopped expecting anything special of me? Ha!) Of course, that doesn’t explain everything, either: I don’t think engineers rely much on individual genius, or that hasn’t been my impression, anyway, and yet they’re almost as bad as physics. It’s complicated. But that complicatedness makes it harder, not easier, to rule out discrimination as one of the factors.

    Anyway, while preferences surely explain some of the gap, they cannot self-consistently explain it all. That doesn’t mean the rest of the explanation is discrimination, of course.

    I should note in the above data that Ph.D. data for engineers isn’t necessarily representative, because most engineers have a master’s and not a Ph.D., but when I’ve been able to find master’s data the percentage of women between master’s and Ph.D. was consistent. (Preemptively: this doesn’t disprove a leaky pipeline in engineering. Ph.D. candidates in the US are not a subset of masters’ candidates in the US, because Ph.D. programs pull in a lot of people from other countries. At least in physics, the fraction of women whose previous career step was overseas rises faster than the equivalent fraction of men; admissions committees do think about gender balance, but admissions practices are not the only–or even primary–reason that women are preferentially likely to leave.)

    Another point: The author links to a post of his on bias in peer review. He eventually finds a single study, about 20 years old in Sweden, on this topic; he then says this is not only unconvincing, but a sign of a bias towards bias in explanations of gender gaps, because he does not think it’s reasonable to extrapolate discrimination in very similar processes to a likely explanation for another process–rather that you must demonstrate bias anew in every single process you’re concerned about. This is in line with other essays of his, basically saying you cannote extrapolate bias from one situation into another situation, based on his perception (which I disagree with) that there’s no clear answer on whether there’s an overall bias against women. From an author who talks about cherry-picking, that seems awfully cherry-picked. (Here I’m talking about very specific atomized processes like “job application outcomes” or “peer review ratings”–the question of the gender gap in STEM employment as a whole is much more complicated.)

    As a side note, inspired by some of this discussion, I feel like scientists ought to get the word out about how much communication skills are an important part of our jobs. (This is, however, kind of self-refuting!)

    The argument about scientific bias to bias explanations is very weak. Citation count depends on many factors; the author wants to talk about rigorousness, but a bunch of other things matter, like uniqueness, time published, activity in the specific field, and relevance to related fields. (In my field, basically all papers are posted to the arXiv; an email is sent out every day with new papers. Being first in the email for astrophysics gives you an 83% bump in citations [some of which is because people try to put high-impact papers there, but not all]. Citation count of an individual paper is just a terrible metric of quality.) To be more specific, the Su et al paper with a sample size of >500,000 can have a sample size that large because people have worked on this for a long time; that probably means fewer people working on it now, since it’s not new & shiny, and thus fewer citations of people building on that work. Compare that to the Moss-Racusin et al paper, where figuring out the level of bias is an ongoing concern–as demonstrated by the very essay we’re discussing! And the author later assumes that most people citing the Moss-Racusin et al paper ought to be citing the Su et al paper for accuracy–but I could come up with a bunch of situations off the top of my head where that wouldn’t be true. (Basic version, not everyone citing the Moss-Racusin paper et al is likely doing it to explain 100% of STEM gender gaps; you can say “biases exist” and talk about those without a claim that 100% of an outcome difference is based upon that bias.)

    Finally, I would emphasize again that the author starts out by pointing out that many studies on discrimination show correlation and not causation, but the same criticism applies to basically all of the author’s evidence in favor of preferences determining the gender gap, too.

  37. 40
    Harlequin says:

    Michael @37–that isn’t necessarily true. In my experience (which may not be accurate, but which seems reasonable to me), women who experience sexual harassment directly may leave a field just to get away from their harasser in a way that women who only witness harassment of others may not do. So, in general, if women experience more sexual harassment than men, you’d expect an uptick in the rate of job changes in women relative to men. This can lead to a gender gap if the barrier to entry in a field is high: it’s much easier to transition out of STEM fields than it is to transition in at later career stages. So you’d lose women who’ve been victims of sexual harassment, and due to the barriers of entry (in education and experience), you don’t replace those women with inflows from other fields.

    I wouldn’t expect that that’s a big contributor to the gender gap in STEM, but it’s probably a small part of it.

  38. 41
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Interesting post, Harlequin.

    I find Jussim tricky. I innately think he’s wrong, based on my own personal and familial experience. (I think there is more bias in STEM than not, as you do.) But of course I may be biased as well, as Jussim suggests!

    In any case, although I generally agree with your points, my read of Jussim’s articles is a bit different. To me, he seems to be attacking STEM discrimination a bit like the oft-repeated 78% wage gap.

    Those two things are very similar, mostly because we haven’t really figured out the source of a lot of the variance. (Jussim certainly has one thing right: we should know where the problem is, in order to decide whether it should be fixed; and decide how to fix it.)

    If you look at the wage gap research, for example, it is often discussed in the context of discrimination. But people are explaining more and more of the gap away without resting on “employer discrimination”. Taking discrimination out of the equation doesn’t change the fact of the wage differential–but it does change whether we should care at all, and if so how to fix it.

    Not all of the wage gap explanations are necessarily bad. However, there is no single factor which explains away the gap. Same with Jussim and STEM, I think.

    Across all of his articles, Jussim seems to be attacking the overall concept that STEM differentials (or at least “a big hunk of STEM differentials”) result from discrimination. This is…. maybe true?

    But people are complex. So even if Jussim is right on his “we are vastly overstating the effect of discrimination on STEM” theory, we would not expect any single non-discrimination factor to count for all or even a significant majority of the variance. So when you say things like:

    Throughout, the author speaks of women preferring careers with people to careers with things. But, as I said above, if that was the main explanation of the STEM gender gap, the ordering of the percentage of women in hard STEM fields is all wrong.

    I don’t think that is supposed to be the “main” explanation; it’s really just one of a lot of factors which (according to Jussim) collectively act to explain most of the variance in a non-discriminatory way.

    Also, on a bit of a side track:

    But that misses that 1) people definitely are discussing why men are attaining less higher education than women

    Well, they’re discussing it but not doing much about it.

    I have multiple kids, including ones of both genders. There is no question that the schools are better set up to play to the strengths of the girls. There is no question that the girls will and do benefit from various gender-specific programs. Apropos of this thread, they’re total science lovers so they will specifically benefit from programs targeted at “women in STEM”; none of those programs are available to the boys. Every single college we have looked at has at least one administrator and occasionally a whole division that are specifically designated to support them because they are girls. There are even scholarships available just for them.

    None of those things are true for the boys in my family. Moreover, the gender-specific support differential appears to be getting bigger and bigger in favor of women, even as the gender-output differential gets increasingly bad for men.

    Since I think there is some gender discrimination, I’m OK with it. But to be honest it’s also because I am confident that I can produce successful kids of either gender. I do think Jussim has a point about the hypocrisy, though, and I might well feel different if I thought the boys in my family would have worse outcomes because of the differential support.

  39. 42
    nobody.really says:

    The author [cited @20] uses a chart of percentage of women in graduate enrollments to make some claims about discrimination. First, he points out (correctly) that graduate school is, on the whole, dominated by women–fine; but the essay is about STEM fields. He seems to be making this point so he can make a claim that, supposedly, people who point to a gender gap in STEM as evidence of discrimination ought to point to the gender gap in graduate enrollment as a whole as evidence of discrimination against men.

    Or, to put it another way: Gender disparities are not so uncommon in grad school, thus we should temper our expectations regarding STEM grad programs. This strikes me as a fair argument.

    However, the data on grad programs in general prompted another insight: Arguably the gender disparities for STEM are worse than they appear. I tend to use a 50/50 baseline for judging gender disparities. But when I bear in mind that women represent well over 50% of college graduates, and well over 50% of people in grad school, then the dearth of women in STEM grad programs becomes even more striking.

    No, none of this really addresses the cause of this gender disparity—only the magnitude. But jeez.

  40. 43
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Forgot to add, a lot of this depends on the discipline.

    If you’re talking about certain math PhDs, women are a minority. If you’re talking about MDs they are about half. If you’re talking about pharmacists they are a majority. If you’re talking about vets they are a large majority (I had no idea it was so imbalanced, but look at this graph)

    And the more that I think about it, the more I’m… not sure that’s entirely bad? It seems to me that the end goal would be to have a reasonably broad set of options which people could do. Some of those options may differ in all sorts of ways, including “how unusual you are compared to other folks in your field.”

    Obviously this type of differentiation sucks for the person who is only interested in one particular field which is a mismatch to them. But of course there are still small clusters (like “conservative college professors”). And the people who only have one possible mismatched job are probably less numerous than most other folks who have broader interests and would like a better match.

    If we made everything too homogeneous it would suck for people who wanted different things. You have very smart people at Harvard and MIT, but they are not necessarily the same type of smart people.

    Like Scott Alexander, I’m one of those people who sees the myers briggs more as handy shorthand than as any sort of diagnosis. But it’s still instructive to look at things like the MBTI by gender

    Things like “EFSJ” (2.5 women to every man) match to careers like this:
    Accountant
    Administrator
    Administrative Assistant
    Bookkeeper
    Counselor
    Child Care
    Church Worker
    Dental Assistant
    Family Doctor
    Human Resources
    Homemaker
    Marketer
    Nurse
    Office Manager
    Organization Leader
    Researcher
    Radiological Technologist
    Receptionist
    Speech Pathologist
    Social Worker
    Trainer
    Teacher

    and things like INTJ (4-5 men for every woman) match to careers like this:
    Business Administrator
    Corporate Strategist
    Computer Programmer
    Computer Specialist
    Dentist
    Entrepreneur
    Engineer
    Judge
    Lawyer/Attorney
    Military Officer
    Manager
    Medical Doctor
    Organization Founder
    Psychologist
    Researcher
    Scientist
    Systems Analyst
    Teacher/Professor

    What that means I do not know, interesting nonetheless. (And like Scott, my own MBTI describes me very well, and the listed career options contain literally every adult career I have ever worked in or considered going to graduate school for.)
    Also, when Harlequin says

    Still, the ordering “physics, comp sci, engineering, math” doesn’t make sense in the way “engineering, comp sci, physics, math” also doesn’t make sense, if you assume it’s all controlled by innate preferences for people vs things.

    It remains relevant if you assume it’s not a perfect correlation; those are all fairly close to each other and there is no reason that they need to be in perfect rank order in order to have decent fit to the curve, right?

  41. 44
    Michael says:

    @Harlequin- let me rephrase my comment- the whole controversy over STEM is that there are fewer women in STEM than in other fields where the barrier to entry is high. If the effect you’re describing was the ONLY cause, we’d probably see roughly similar gender gaps in all fields where the barrier to entry is high. Which isn’t the case. So therefore there must be other causes. Which basically agrees with what you said. :)

  42. 45
    Harlequin says:

    And the more that I think about it, the more I’m… not sure that’s entirely bad?

    I don’t think so, either, at least abstractly. There are a few issues to consider:
    – How much of the gap is innate and unchangeable preferences, vs socialization, vs discrimination. I think, based on my experiences and not hard data, that socialization probably wins over innate preferences and maybe wins over direct discrimination when it comes to most occupations with a wide gender gap. In terms of interventions, discrimination is a place we’d want to intervene; innate preferences not; and socialization is kind of a grey area, depending on other considerations.
    – How much a gender (or racial) imbalance matters to a field. As far as I understand, this is a hard question to answer, but diversity seems to be, on balance, more of a help than a hindrance to groups that are trying to be creative, which applies to a lot of STEM fields in particular.
    – How much the gender (and racial) balance matters to the people who are, or might be under other circumstances, in it. Given the correlation between salary and percentage of men, for example, even if absolutely nothing about how people sorted into occupations was a result of discrimination, the current distribution of occupation with gender would still end up paying women less (and we need more data but a first attempt indicates this is at least partially causal).

    It remains relevant if you assume it’s not a perfect correlation

    Oh yes, definitely–that’s why I put the “all” in there. The deviations from perfect correlation are not noise, though–the percentage of women in a given field is pretty stable year-to-year. So something else is causing those differences. And if it’s not innate preferences, that means (at least theoretically) it’s something that can be changed.

    (Also, as Echidne points out, these percentages can be quite different in different countries, which I think is more evidence of socialization modulating the innate factors.)

  43. 46
    desipis says:

    How much of the gap is innate and unchangeable preferences, vs socialization, vs discrimination.

    You also have to consider the impact of various feminist actions (affirmative actions, scholarships, girls in stem promotions, etc), and whether they have already pushed the balance further than the distortion from historical socialisation/discrimination, to a state beyond any innate preference driven equilibrium. Women being politically driven into careers that are a mismatch for their personal preferences can explain higher drop out rates just as much as discrimination can.

  44. 47
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Harlequin says:
    August 1, 2017 at 12:34 am
    There are a few issues to consider:
    – How much of the gap is innate and unchangeable preferences, vs socialization, vs discrimination. I think, based on my experiences and not hard data, that socialization probably wins over innate preferences and maybe wins over direct discrimination when it comes to most occupations with a wide gender gap.

    I agree, though like you my agreement is not based on hard data. Direct discrimination is a substantial factor and it is almost always aimed at women. But socialization is still the biggest one.

    One major issue is how to classify “upstream” discrimination. Modern progressive discourse tends to (deliberately) look at outcomes, in the hopes of reaching a presumption of “direct discrimination” when the problem is actually occurring much earlier. I don’t know what the solution is.

    For example, say a STEM company has a neutral hiring process. But they only have a few women because there aren’t many qualified women. Let’s also say that the lack of qualification comes from constant low-level discrimination during the prior decade of school. We clearly can’t call that “socialization” since it is based on discrimination. But we clearly can’t blame the employer, because they are not discriminating. Yet generally the employer is treated as though they’re at fault. The issue of “dumping the solution burden on the last actor” is behind a lot of problems I think.

    In terms of interventions, discrimination is a place we’d want to intervene; innate preferences not; and socialization is kind of a grey area, depending on other considerations.

    Yes. However I am generally anti-interventionist so I really only tend to focus on discrimination. The more complex something is and the less we can accurately predict the results of intervention the more likely we are to muck things up. And “US society” is really, really, complex–so I think we should be very leery of trying to tweak socialization to reach what we think of as a “good” outcome.

    How much a gender (or racial) imbalance matters to a field. As far as I understand, this is a hard question to answer, but diversity seems to be, on balance, more of a help than a hindrance to groups that are trying to be creative, which applies to a lot of STEM fields in particular.

    I don’t think this is really very well supported. And is is also pretty tricky. If you use personal characteristics as a proxy for diversity of thought, you end up relying on a pretty substantial degree of essentialism. If “white men [or anyone else] think differently from other groups” then you can reasonably start asking how those differences apply in situations, which group is better at which tasks, etc. Right? Difference is not ever always positive or negative; there are always tradeoffs. I have never really understood how progressives get around that.

  45. 48
    Elusis says:

    “A Googler’s Would-Be Manifesto Reveals Tech’s Rotten Core”

    As my colleague Mark Guzdial puts it, women used to avoid computer science because they didn’t know what it is. Now they avoid it because they know exactly what it is.

    Yeah.

    What is this letter, after all, but a displaced Reddit post? Certain but non-evidential. Feigning structure, but meandering. Long and tedious, with inept prose and dead manner. This false confidence underwrites all the claims the memo contains, from its facile defense of jingoism as political conservatism to its easy dismissal of anyone not pre-determined to be of use.

    Original memo here: http://gizmodo.com/exclusive-heres-the-full-10-page-anti-diversity-screed-1797564320/amp

  46. 49
    Ben Lehman says:

    A good response from Yonatan Zunger.

  47. 50
    desipis says:

    A good response from Yonatan Zunger.

    “Good”, as in demonstrates one of the original manifestos points?

  48. 51
    Mandolin says:

    Good for Yonatan. We’ll done.

  49. 52
    Eytan Zweig says:

    And which point is that, desipis?

  50. 53
    desipis says:

    Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence.

  51. 54
    desipis says:

    From Yonatan Zunger:

    1. I’m not going to spend any length of time on (1); if anyone wishes to provide details as to how nearly every statement about gender in that entire document is actively incorrect,¹ and flies directly in the face of all research done in the field for decades, they should go for it. But I am neither a biologist, a psychologist, nor a sociologist, so I’ll leave that to someone else.

    Claiming that someone else is wrong and should just take your word for it while simultaneously admitting to not being an expert in any of the relevant fields is a bit of a bizarre argument style.

    You just put out a manifesto inside the company arguing that some large fraction of your colleagues are at root not good enough to do their jobs, and that they’re only being kept in their jobs because of some political ideas.

    This grossly mischaracterises what the original author said. As is this:

    “I think one-third of my colleagues are either biologically unsuited to do their jobs, or if not are exceptions and should be suspected of such until they can prove otherwise to each and every person’s satisfaction.”

    The way the essay has been labelled as a “manifesto”, a “screed”, as “anti-diversity” also highlights how the majority of the responses (at least as far as I have seen) try to poison the well, to ostracise and demonise the author, and just flat out fail to engage with the ideas contained within.

    And as for its impact on you: Do you understand that at this point, I could not in good conscience assign anyone to work with you? I certainly couldn’t assign any women to deal with this, a good number of the people you might have to work with may simply punch you in the face, and even if there were a group of like-minded individuals I could put you with, nobody would be able to collaborate with them. You have just created a textbook hostile workplace environment.

    This is hyperbolic hysterical horsecrap (not to mention explicitly justifying workplace violence). This is the equivalent of saying “Oh, you just admitted to being muslim? Well I can’t in good conscious assign non-muslims to work with you; they’ll be forever afraid that you might jihad them! They might even punch you in the face for 9/11! And even if we could make a group of muslims inside the company, you’d never be able to collaborate with other teams.“.

    At no point in the original essay did the author ever indicate they would discriminate or treat their colleagues differently on the basis of gender (or race). It was entirely about population level trends on not about how to treat individual people. Read the last sentence:

    I’m advocating for quite the opposite: treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group

    Do you think the women at Google are afraid of being treated as individuals?

  52. 55
    Mandolin says:

    Yeah, my impression of most google engineer said is that they prefer to accept settled science, or at least prefer to have sound scientific responses – so that’s a “monoculture,” in a limited and specific sense.

  53. 56
    Mandolin says:

    Admittedly, those are only the google engineers I’ve gotten to know, which is a small number, it’s possible many of them believe in debunked evo psych, it’s not uncommon in people with vague but not deep knowledge of science, or in people who believe qualifications in one field make them experts without having to study in another (a group found across the political spectrum, as far as I know).

  54. 57
    desipis says:

    Claiming these areas of the social sciences are “settled science” is a bit of a joke. Most of it is barely above pseudoscience.

    Edit: I mean what happens when contradictory evidence meets “settled science”? Is like when an unstoppable force hits an immovable object?

  55. 58
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    AA is a valid exception to the general “don’t discriminate” rule. But because differential treatment is generally illegal we need to keep a weather eye on AA at all times.

    And as a rule we don’t often trust the people with discretion to use it unchecked, right? That is especially true when we have a strong underlying rule (no discrimination based on immutable characteristics). Even with AA, we should not ignore the perils of discretion just because we like folks.**

    Still: so far, so good, most of the time. The problem seems to arise with the common followup stuff:

    The biggest issue is often how people react to AA recipients. Sometimes they are biased against them; sometimes they refuse to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    But… often this makes sense. Doesn’t it?

    For a left-friendly example: kids of the president are believed to skip the normal selection process that would otherwise screen for intelligence. That does not mean they are stupid; you can be the child of the president and still be smart. But it does prevent them from gaining the benefit of the doubt w/r/t “they are here, so they passed the screen, so they’re smart.”

    If you know someone is an intern at Google, you might assume they are smart because it’s so competitive to get. If you find out their parents run the company, you don’t make the same assumption–and rightfully so. (In the left-friendly analysis of the college context, this same approach applies to rich donor kids, alumni kids, star athletes, celebrities, etc.)

    This is actually pretty rational. People with connections are judged more on a “are they good enough” metric instead of a “are they the best of the pool” metric, so they don’t get the benefit of the “best of pool” assumption.

    But for a left-unfriendly example, you have only to look at the Google letter. You have groups of people who appear to be given screening advantages (which to some degree is probably true, since it is the whole point of AA.) You have folks who refuse to give them the benefit of the doubt for “passing” the screen, whether the screen is for hiring/mentorship/panel membership/promotion/etc.

    From a rational basis it is hard to explain why it is OK to assume that the basketball captain may have gotten in for their jump shot and not their IQ, but is not OK to assume that a place who is “specifically seeking applications from ___s” may have taken someone because of their ____-ness and not their IQ. And Google folks are usually quite rational.

    Still: It seems crazy that we would simultaneously use AA and also deter folks from really discussing the genesis/evidence for AA and also deter people from making assumptions about the results of AA. Why shouldn’t this be discussed? Isn’t the reality more important than how people feel?

    **My AA position: AA is perfectly OK, and perhaps we should have even more of it. But we should require it to be more open and disclosed, and we should never deter discussions on it. Secret AA procedures are likely to become more illegal.

  56. 59
    desipis says:

    Here is the (apparently) original document by the Google Engineer, including many links and diagrams removed by gizmodo. Who has now been fired for his wrong-think.

  57. 60
    Eytan Zweig says:

    desipis – He hasn’t been fired for thinking anything, he has been fired for distributing a company-wide memo criticising the company’s hiring policies for political reasons. This isn’t like he expressed his opinions in private, or in social media. If he had, then I would still think his opinions totally wrong but I would oppose his firing. In this case, regardless of the opinions expressed, this seems to me to be in line with firing anyone who uses internal communications improperly. Arguing that sending a memo to all your co-workers is the same as thinking is a bit ridiculous.

  58. 61
    Mandolin says:

    Behavior at work, and use of company resources, are a thing. He really just should have used Facebook. But that wasn’t what he wanted, I expect — he wanted to force people in the company to see it; he wanted to use company resources to achieve a goal at his workplace. So, he did. Fair. But then it’s the company’s job to respond based on their own internal rules (otherwise, you get lawsuits).

    Activism involves a decision: “here is this consequence that I know will follow my actions, but I have decided suffering the consequence is worth it because I believe what I’m doing is important.” He clearly believed disseminating this through company resources was important enough to risk losing his job; it’s not like HR rules are a foggy mystery. So, fair enough. I respect that. But I have no idea why I should act like it’s any different than when an environmentalist decides they believe enough in saving a redwood to go live in it. The environmentalist gets to be drastically uncomfortable and subjected to responses by foresters and police. The google dude gets fired. I admit that I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt here by assuming he’s passionate, not stupid.

    When my husband first started his last job (9 years ago), someone used email to distribute racist memes, like the Barak/Michelle pimp/hoe one. It doesn’t even matter if one agrees they’re racist or not (I assume the sender didn’t) — the company has to respond according to their policies. HR rules. Lawsuits. So they told the guy to knock it off.

    They can’t ignore it (without undermining their own rules, and opening themselves up to lawsuits) any more than they could ignore the guy who sexually harassed people at work. And THAT guy attempted to rape a coworker, but he did it off hours and she didn’t file charges (yes, I know as much as it is possible to know for a non-witnessed event that it wasn’t a false accusation; he didn’t dispute it)–so that wasn’t company business, and wasn’t why he was fired.

    At least the person who put the note “Die, white bitch” in the company mailbox of the woman who founded the LGBTQ resource group understood they (she) shouldn’t use a company printer. (However, she did make it clear that the animus was because of the harrassee’s work activities, and also she left the note at work, so if they had found proof of who it was, she’d still have been in hot water.)

    I want to stipulate and emphasize that the last few examples are of egregiously worse behavior – sexual harassment, a death threat — than Google dude’s behavior. I am comparing the use of company resources and time, in that even these more egregious behaviors wouldn’t have resulted in consequences at work if they hadn’t involved the company.

    One can bitch about HR, I suppose. Go for it. But changes in policy apply going forward, not retroactively.

  59. 62
    Mandolin says:

    (Also, a monoculture would be demonstrated if HR employed *different* responses to equal rules violations based on politics. If liberal employees are violating the same number and kind of rules, and to the same extent, and that’s being ignored then there’s a legit point here.)

  60. 63
    RonF says:

    Interesting to see all the SJWs in social media and the blogosphere
    who think how wrong it is that Colin Kaepernick is suffering consequences for expressing his political and social opinions in the workplace but how fitting it is that a Google engineer has.

  61. 64
    Eytan Zweig says:

    @RonF – interesting to see you come in and snipe at unnamed targets, while taking care not to actually express an opinion. I don’t care what you think is interesting about SJWs, but I am interested in what you think about this case. Do you think Google was right to fire the engineer? If not, why not? And how, in your opinion, is this similar or different to the Kaepernick case?

  62. 65
    Mandolin says:

    N/m Barry told me details.

  63. 66
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Yeah, Google can certainly fire the dude if they want to. They have pretty broad discretion.

    Google clearly should fire the dude, from a marketing perspective, since Google apparently strives to attract a variety of folks and his post is apparently anathema to their marketing.

    The interesting question (for me) is whether Google has to fire the dude from a legal perspective. Is opining in that matter per se actionable harassment? I don’t know.

  64. 67
    desipis says:

    gin-and-whiskey: Any validity to the legal points raised here:

    First, federal labor law bars even non-union employers like Google from punishing an employee for communicating with fellow employees about improving working conditions. The purpose of the memo was to persuade Google to abandon certain diversity-related practices the engineer found objectionable and to convince co-workers to join his cause, or at least discuss the points he raised.

    In a reply to the initial outcry over his memo, the engineer added to his memo: “Despite what the public response seems to have been, I’ve gotten many personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude for bringing up these very important issues which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired.” The law protects that kind of “concerted activity.”

    Second, the engineer’s memo largely is a statement of his political views as they apply to workplace policies. The memo is styled as a lament to “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.” California law prohibits employers from threatening to fire employees to get them to adopt or refrain from adopting a particular political course of action.
    Danielle Brown, Google’s newly installed vice president of Diversity, Integrity, & Governance, made it clear that the engineer’s memo does not reflect “a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages.”

    An employee does not have free reign to engage in political speech that disrupts the workplace, but punishing an employee for deviating from company orthodoxy on a political issue is not allowed either. Brown acknowledged that when she wrote that “an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions.”

    Third, the engineer complained in parts of his memo about company policies that he believes violate employment discrimination laws. Those policies include support programs limited by race or gender and promotional and hiring scoring policies that consider race and gender. It is unlawful for an employer to discipline an employee for challenging conduct that the employee reasonably believed to be discriminatory, even when a court later determines the conduct was not actually prohibited by the discrimination laws. In other words, the engineer doesn’t have to be right that some of Google’s diversity initiatives are unlawful, only that he reasonably believes that they are.

  65. 68
    Mandolin says:

    The interesting question (for me) is whether Google has to fire the dude from a legal perspective. Is opining in that matter per se actionable harassment? I don’t know.

    Would it depend on what the provisions of their codes of conduct say?

  66. 69
    Harlequin says:

    I was surprised by how mild the original essay was. It’s still wrong, but from all the press I thought it was going to be “uniquely hateful” and not “the same kind of crap women in STEM hear every day.” I will grant you that “AA has gone/is going too far” is far from the dominant view, but it is certainly not absent. If merely expressing that view in any forum, or any work-related forum, was enough to get you fired, I know a whole lot of people who wouldn’t have jobs right now. (And not all of those people losing their jobs would be white and/or male.)

    Anyway, I think it’s helpful to think about what AA is actually doing. As far as I can tell, there are three main intentions, none of them exclusive of the others:
    1. A diverse workforce is desired, and so candidates with less potential to do well in the job are hired if they fall into minority groups. I would like to think this is uncommon; however, I’m aware of at least one study that says if people are explicitly instructed to focus on merit, the diversity of their choices goes down.
    2. Due to prior discrimination, candidates with the same potential may have resume items of different quality, and so candidates from minority backgrounds get a boost to correct to their actual potential.
    3. Due to implicit biases, candidates with resume items of the same quality may be judged to have different potential, and so candidates from minority backgrounds get a boost to correct for this biased evaluation.
    But if I’m missing something I’d be interested to know.

    (AA is not the only way to correct for these biases, of course.)

    Among the many ways the Colin Kaepernick analogy is not apt, consider that in order for the situations to be even comparable, the man who wrote this essay would need to be blacklisted from all of Silicon Valley–not simply fired from a single job. One day on, we don’t know this yet.

  67. 70
    Michael says:

    I agree that the Google dude was trying to make a spectacle, so I’ve got little sympathy about him being fired. I’d be more concerned about incidents like the Lena Dunham one, where she overheard a conversation between two airline employees talking disparingly about transgender kids and reported them to the airline. Yes, the airline employees’ behavior while in uniform reflects on their employer but Dunham still feels like a snitch since the employees didn’t intend to be overheard.

  68. 71
    Eytan Zweig says:

    The details of the Dunham thing are quite confusing, so I’m not really sure what the sequences of events was. But I would say that whether the airline employees intended to be overheard is irrelevant – if they spoke in a part of the airport where customers can hear them, then they’re doing so in public. It’s not like Dunham, under any version of the story, went eavesdropping in an employee-only area.

  69. 72
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Mandolin says:
    August 8, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    The interesting question (for me) is whether Google has to fire the dude from a legal perspective. Is opining in that matter per se actionable harassment? I don’t know.

    Would it depend on what the provisions of their codes of conduct say?

    All of this has a strong “I may well be wrong” caveat.

    a) I don’t think so; there is no individual named in the document and I don’t think any particular individual would have standing. Google probably has strong discretion to do what they want so the decision to fire (possibly without a hearing or opportunity for anything curative) was almost certainly discretionary. I doubt they had to fire him.

    b) I have since seem some people arguing that Google broke the law, because this dude was discussing work conditions and couldn’t be fired for it. That is a specialized field in which a lot of the results don’t match what non-specialists would think (I am one of those non-specialists) so the most I can say is not to assume that this is wrong.

    c) California law may differ.

  70. 73
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Harlequin says:
    August 8, 2017 at 11:19 pm
    Anyway, I think it’s helpful to think about what AA is actually doing. As far as I can tell, there are three main intentions, none of them exclusive of the others:
    1. A diverse workforce is desired, and so candidates with less potential to do well in the job are hired if they fall into minority groups. I would like to think this is uncommon.

    Why would this be uncommon? It’s the entire basis of AA.

    You can define merit any way you’d like, but as soon as you start considering OTHER factors than your personal definition of “merit,” your chances of obtaining the highest-merit results go down.

    Diversity hires are always a subset, and subsets are always limited. There are more people in the “funny comedian” set than there are in the “funny comedian with red hair” set; your chances of finding the top 5 funniest people go down if you want red hair.

    Due to prior discrimination, candidates with the same potential may have resume items of different quality, and so candidates from minority backgrounds get a boost to correct to their actual potential.

    This is totally a thing. Ideally it would be handled through some sort of universal test (“write some code for a blind review,” “take the SAT/GRE/ACT,” etc.) to avoid a wild-ass guess. But folks in the AA field seem to hate those. So it ends up involving a lot of guesswork, presumably of the “let’s decide how this person we don’t really know super well would have done in a completely different situation” variety. The outcomes seem to match the bias of the folks considering it, no surprise.

    3. Due to implicit biases, candidates with resume items of the same quality may be judged to have different potential, and so candidates from minority backgrounds get a boost to correct for this biased evaluation.

    See #2.

    Inherently there is the issue of “potential” versus “capabilities.” You keep talking about potential. Do you think AA is deliberately making that distinction? It’s an interesting argument.

    Problem is, “potential” is incredibly difficult to measure: we have been trying for ages and the closest we usually tend to get is those old standardized-type tests, IQ tests, etc. which the AA folks generally despise.

    Really, AA is about #1: restricting interest to a subgroup and trading off some otherwise-desirable factor in exchange. This is no surprise and it happens everywhere.

    When studios specifically restrict casting to beautiful/famous people they are inherently not selecting for the best actors. When schools save a slot specifically for the basketball captain they are not selecting for the best student. When departments hire specifically for a Yeats specialist they are not selecting for the best English teacher. And when Google specifically hires people of a certain gender or race, they are not selecting for the best programmers.

    I never understood why this is so bloody controversial to discuss. Of course AA is going to increase the probability of hiring/admitting/promoting people who are less qualified on whatever “merit” measure exists. That’s the whole point of AA!! If everyone was equally distributed on any sort of merit scale–like they are for, say, orchestra auditions–then we wouldn’t need AA in the first place, because we could just make people use the scale. Or, if everyone was equally distributed on some sort of “potential” scale, we could just use that scale instead.

    But they’re not, so we have AA, so we end up taking some folks with lower merit and/or potential, which is the reason we have AA.

  71. 74
    RonF says:

    So, pursuant to the special prosecutor directed FBI investigation into possible collaboration between Russia and the Trump campaign, we see this:

    FBI conducted predawn raid of former Trump campaign chairman Manafort’s home

    So – how is it that when the FBI was investigating Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin et. al. they got to pick through and negotiate what they wanted to hand over to the FBI and we never saw “FBI conducted predawn raid of Hillary Clinton/Huma Abedin’s home”?

  72. 75
    RonF says:

    Do you think Google was right to fire the engineer? If not, why not?

    No, I don’t. It puts the lie to their claim to be committed to diversity. Why have diversity of race, sex, ethnicity, etc. in the workplace? Because it brings different perspectives, different ways of looking at things and problems. This is what leads to better, faster and more robust solutions. It’s the different perspectives that is the true value of diversity – and yet here’s someone who got fired because he had a different perspective and dared to voice it. So Google’s claim to value diversity is in fact bullshit. They value superficial diversity, but when it comes to true diversity they punish and expel it in favor of groupthink.

    And how, in your opinion, is this similar or different to the Kaepernick case?

    Not ignoring this, but I just got something landed in my lap that I have to deal with ….

  73. 76
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Google is currently being sued by a bunch of women who allege gender discrimination. It’s a class action, which are really risky and very expensive to defend.

    I have no idea about the facts underlying the class action. But whether they are true or not, if Google had not fired the guy it would surely have been used against them in the suit. From a risk perspective Google clearly should have fired him: even if Google settles with him for a million dollars, it’s still a good deal in the context of a class action defense.

    Moreover, as Althouse correctly notes, Google was smart to fire him especially if what he said was at all true:

    It’s possible that what Damore talked about in his memo actually reflects what many people at Google privately think and are trying to hide and that he was treated harshly to manufacture evidence against a proposition that matters in the lawsuit.

    I’d like to know a lot more, so I’ll just throw out the hypothesis that Damore is being scapegoated not because Google is dominated by social-justice warriors but because there really is deeply entrenched prejudice against women in the tech field and Google is desperate to hide it. (emphasis added)

  74. 77
    Ben Lehman says:

    @RonF Warrants requires probable cause.

  75. 78
    Harlequin says:

    g&w, I think we mostly agree; and I should say, I guess, that I don’t know if #2 or #3 is always the intent of AA (I used that word and I probably shouldn’t have), but I’m pretty sure it’s part of the consideration in college admissions, at least. I know less about hiring. But, yeah, you’re trying to figure out some pure theoretical “ability to perform job X”, then using a proxy that is both noisy and biased, and then evaluating that proxy in a way that is also noisy and biased. A lot of people seem to jump from AA to “deliberately admitting people further down the (theoretical) ability scale” when in fact in practice I think it’s more likely to put a thumb on the scale of those measurement biases, whether or not that’s the intent of the people who implement it.

    I did want to address this quickly, however:

    Diversity hires are always a subset, and subsets are always limited. There are more people in the “funny comedian” set than there are in the “funny comedian with red hair” set; your chances of finding the top 5 funniest people go down if you want red hair.

    Part of what AA is addressing, though, is that the current status is not “looking for funny comedians”, it’s “looking for funny comedians who preferably do NOT have red hair.” Without AA in the Google situation, in other words, you’re also not hiring purely on merit; the hiring process is not perfect, sometimes you will hire people who are not appropriate for the job, and absent AA you’re much more likely to hire a less capable man over a more capable woman than vice versa. AA doesn’t prevent you from hiring unqualified people–that will always happen. Implemented properly, it just means that underrepresented groups have an equal likelihood of getting that chance they don’t deserve. (edit: because you’re less likely to make the error of choosing the less capable man over the more capable woman, at the expense of being somewhat more likely to pick the less capable woman over the more capable man; figuring out how to benchmark that properly is part of the problem, of course.)

  76. 79
    Ampersand says:

    G&W, quoting Harlequin, wrote:

    1. A diverse workforce is desired, and so candidates with less potential to do well in the job are hired if they fall into minority groups. I would like to think this is uncommon.

    Why would this be uncommon? It’s the entire basis of AA.

    With all due respect, you’re either being disingenuous, or you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    For example, actual practices of AA in hiring are usually concentrated more on the recruitment process than on the hiring decision itself; organizations subject to AA laws keep records showing that they made a good-faith effort to broaden their applicant pool. There is never a requirement to hire a less qualified person from a minority group; there are, however, requirements to show that efforts were made to recruit a diverse applicant pool.

    See, for instance, the former Alas blogger Rachel S.’s description of the AA hiring process at her university. (Note: “Rachel S” is not the same person as “Rachel Swirsky.”) See this Houston Chronicle article describing the process of a typical business AA program. See this FAQ (pdf link) to faculty making hiring decisions about how the AA process works.

    The claim that “the entire basis of AA” is “candidates with less potential to do well in the job are hired if they fall into minority groups” is, frankly, ridiculous.

  77. 80
    Ampersand says:

    Here’s an article by a Google recruiter, written about a year ago (so before the current controversy). He describes one of Google’s programs intending to diversify the applicant pool:

    Our Google in Residence program, for instance, embeds Google engineers at historically black colleges and universities to teach computer science and coach students about how to position themselves for engineering careers. We have similar initiatives in the works aimed at improving Hispanic diversity, too.

    It’s important to know this because, too often, the tech sector’s well-documented demographics are enough to discourage some of the best talent from imagining themselves as future Googlers.

    G&W, can you clarify how “the entire basis” of this program is “candidates with less potential to do well in the job are hired if they fall into minority groups”?

  78. 81
    Harlequin says:

    Thanks, Amp; that was very interesting!

  79. 82
    Jane Doh says:

    There is no such thing as pure “merit”. It is impossible to pick which qualified candidate is “better”, because everyone has different life experience and therefore will be good at some aspects of a job, and less good at others. There is above the bar and below the bar. Very few companies will hire someone below the bar, just as very few schools will admit someone below the bar. Once someone is qualified, there are endless subjective reasons why they might be selected over someone else. One goal of AA is to make sure that “member of under represented group” isn’t a reason for selecting against.

    There are countries that place people into universities (and some jobs, I think) based only on the results of an exam, but none of those universities are considered world class, and professors at those universities often complain about how it selects mostly for students who are good at exam taking, and not for students who can think/do research/solve problems.

    In the case of the guy at Google, I think it makes a huge difference that he sent out his memo to his coworkers using official company channels, instead of just posting it to Facebook or reddit or wherever. I wouldn’t want to be assigned to work with him after that, and I certainly wouldn’t want to have him making any hiring decisions. I think that people can think what they want, and say what they want off, but doing it on company time to a not entirely uncoerced audience (his co-workers) will have a different meaning (and consequence) than privately speaking. Google can still be committed to diversity of opinion without enabling folks to deliberately bludgeon their colleagues with opinions that demean them.

    In a super-male dominated field, the memo has a really different meaning than a 10-page memo about another unpopular (or to be likely more accurate–a non-politically correct) opinion. Working in a very male dominated STEM field, there are plenty of my colleagues who agree with the memo, but don’t discuss these things at work with me, their female colleague. Nor do they send out messages to our whole department about it, even when we are considering a new hire. Context matters. I’ve certainly been called an AA hire many times before, so it isn’t like I don’t know how pervasive these ideas are.

  80. 83
    desipis says:

    Here’s an interview with James Damore (the Google guy). I haven’t watched the whole thing, but I think it’s important to note that he initially sent it to an internal diversity team in response to some diversity related event, primarily as a means for them to identify where he was wrong. After getting no response (and about a month later) he sent it on to some sort of “skeptic” group to see if they could point out where he was wrong, and it went viral inside google. Then the media got a hold of it and decided to defame the guy resulting in Google needing to “do something” to protect their brand.

    The idea that he “deliberately bludgeon [his] colleagues with opinions that demean them” is just flat out wrong.

  81. 84
    Eytan Zweig says:

    I don’t have time to watch the interview, but if that is the truth, and he sent it only to groups that were meant to put his views under scrutiny and then one of them distributed it more widely, that does change my opinion of the situation somewhat. That said, that still doesn’t mean that Google fired him for his opinions, as you’ve claimed earlier.

  82. 85
    Ampersand says:

    Here’s a detailed rebuttal of James Damore’s… (manifesto? Essay? Memo? Is there any consensus on what to call it?) The author has a PhD in evolutionary biology.

    ETA: A couple more links, which I’m putting here to avoid losing them.

    Differences between Men and Women are Vastly Exaggerated | Adam Grant | Pulse | LinkedIn

    Science totally debunks that shocking manifesto that got a Google employee fired – ScienceAlert (I very much doubt that the author of this piece wrote the headline.)

  83. 86
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Not that I’m a fan of Damore, and clearly he has his own biases. But so does that author, especially when I saw that she literally accuses Damore of “textbook fascism.” Which, seriously?

    Damore, quoted by Sadedin: Philosophically, 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 principles reasons for why it helps Google; that is, we should be optimizing for Google—with Google’s diversity being a component of that. For example currently those trying to work extra hours or take extra stress will inevitably get ahead and if we try to change that too much, it may have disastrous consequences. Also, when considering the costs and benefits, we should keep in mind that Google’s funding is finite so its allocation is more zero-sum than is generally acknowledged.

    Sadedin: What these paragraphs together are advocating is moral disengagement. For all its mild tone, this is textbook fascism:

    [Cite from “what is fascism:] The core principle — what Paxton defined as fascism’s only definition of morality — is to make the nation stronger, more powerful, larger and more successful. Since fascists see national strength as the only thing that makes a nation “good,” fascists will use any means necessary to achieve that goal.
    (from: What Is Fascism?)

    I don’t know about you but that sort of semi-Godwin BS is a red flag to me and it causes me to distrust the other statements and cites: I don’t know enough to tell which are major/minor and which are cherry-picked and so on.

  84. 87
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Harlequin says:
    August 9, 2017 at 7:11 pm
    Part of what AA is addressing, though, is that the current status is not “looking for funny comedians”, it’s “looking for funny comedians who preferably do NOT have red hair.” Without AA in the Google situation, in other words, you’re also not hiring purely on merit; the hiring process is not perfect, sometimes you will hire people who are not appropriate for the job, and absent AA you’re much more likely to hire a less capable man over a more capable woman than vice versa.

    This feels a bit like you’re joining upstream and present discrimination, and I guess I don’t really agree with that.

    IOW, your statement applies to a situation where (a) you are currently judging candidates on discriminatory means other than merit, and (b) AA forces you to make those criteria more fair.

    That is good, of course! But that isn’t really AA; that’s just equal treatment law. Unlike laws requiring equal treatment, AA is designed to address and correct upstream issues, which is why AA requires UNEQUAL treatment:
    a) You are judging candidates based on whatever screen you think is appropriate;
    b) But some groups have upstream disadvantage, caused by society/direct discrimination/etc, so
    c) If you treat the groups equally on the screen, then the groups with upstream problems are going to have low pass rates;
    d) So you put a thumb on the scale somehow–IOW, you don’t treat the groups equally–in order to ensure that enough folks make it through your screen.

    It’s silly to pretend that applicant-seeking isn’t also a thumb on the scale. It’s the same thumb with the same general effect, but simply moved upstream. For example,

    Our Google in Residence program, for instance, embeds Google engineers at historically black colleges and universities to teach computer science and coach students about how to position themselves for engineering careers. We have similar initiatives in the works aimed at improving Hispanic diversity, too.

    This is treating people differently (providing coaching which is designed to help hiring) because of a desire to compensate; it’s unequal treatment. It’s smart and good, but it is what it is.

    Again, I think this program is great–I support AA. In fact, if I were a billionaire this is also what I would do to fight discrimination: I would try to find really smart people at as young an age as possible and help them succeed, and I would focus on disadvantaged groups like some POC. Obviously this has the same subset issue; I’m less likely to find the next Einstein if I only look at 30% of the potential-Einsteins than I am if I look at 100% of them. But that is how AA works.

    When you are focusing effort on a subset this means your efforts are simultaneously better for that subset (the point of AA!) and worse on whatever you trade off (the results of AA).

  85. 89
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Adam Grant and Scott Alexander are having (had?) a back-and-forth over at Scott’s blog. I’m not sure who comes out ahead, but I do think people would do well to read Grant, Scott, and their short discussion, and then reevaluate their degree of certainty on whichever position they hold. I really appreciated their civil and informed discussion.

    Their conversation reminds me of the time I spent days reading opposing views and studies on school voucher programs, and my desire to have any opinion at all just vanished.

  86. 90
    Ampersand says:

    Gin and Whiskey and Jeffrey Gandee, thanks very much for pointing out that exchange at SSC.

  87. 91
    RonF says:

    I see two different questions here:

    1) Was Damore’s viewpoint blatantly unsustainable and simply sexist or is there a legitimate debate here?
    2) Should have he been fired over it?

    While my gut feeling is that there’s truth to the concept that women and men think and feel differently and that said differences influence men’s and women’s choices regarding pursuing STEM careers I’m not going to do all the reading required to be able to compare the various studies done on the matter. But the various differing accounts and critiques I have read leads me to believe that there’s at least a sustainable debate over his central points, as opposed to him being blatantly wrong.

    Now, should he have been fired? From the viewpoint of “There’s at least a legitimate debate on the issue and Google claims to support diversity”, my answer is no. But I have also read commentary holding the view that Google as it stands is open to lawsuits over sexism and discriminatory hiring and that permitting Damore to promote those views over a corporate medium and retaining him would have been exhibit #1 in any such lawsuit if they had not fired him. Is their committment to diversity held strongly enough to spend the money to defend him, or at least his right to speak his mind?

  88. 92
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    RonF,

    On point one, I think there’s tons of room for debate, but I think this is a debate most people can’t have in a valuable way. From what I’ve seen on social media, too many people:

    1. Can’t reason with statistics.
    2. Can’t talk about distributions and group differences intelligently
    3. Can’t set their own anecdotes and experiences aside
    4. Won’t hold a nuanced opinion that includes uncertainties.
    5. Didn’t actually take the time to read the memo or anything else really.

    Some people can do all these things, but the vast majority can’t, and it’s killing me to read all the hot-takes from people who couldn’t even articulate Damore’s argument in a way he would agree with, and that’s a problem (I’m not accusing anyone here of this).

    As to your second point, I think Damore should have meditated a little harder on human behavior and determinism. It’s great that he’s willing to educate himself and cite studies on human behavior and sexual dimorphism, but if he’d spent a little more time thinking about human nature, he would have better predicted the response he got. The women at google probably breath sexism every damn day. Not all of them are willing to give his memo a charitable read. Not all of them are going to appreciate how heavily he weighs innate differences against the biases they experience. Damore’s issues with google must seem pathetic from the POV of a woman who feels oppressed. Humans are mostly too frail to hold nuanced views about this kind of thing, and that’s the way we are, just like men may be more into things on average and women may be more into people on average, we are all way into our own lived experience and terrible at looking at our world objectively. Maybe he’s right that Google’s diversity policy is a futile effort, but so was Damore’s own memo. I wish it wasn’t the case, but it is. Because it IS the case, his memo made the working enviroment there worse for women, and google can’t allow that to happen.

  89. 94
    Harlequin says:

    g&w at 87, I don’t agree that it conflates past and present discrimination–if there is upstream discrimination, that will affect (for example) the strength of people’s resumes. So if you don’t take minority status into account when evaluating those resumes, you’ll pick less-capable people who are nevertheless more qualified by a pure rating of their resumes. It can also include present discrimination, but doesn’t have to.

    ***

    Amp, I was just coming here to link that. :) It made a point I hadn’t thought about before, which is, basically, while women may be more thing-oriented than men in general, what actually matters is the thing-to-people interests of people good enough at mathematical reasoning to be in the pool of potential hires for Google, and that may be a very different animal.

    ***

    The debate at Slate Star Codex was interesting, though I had to laugh when Scott Alexander said (in response to the claim that the drop in women in the tech industry showed the problem couldn’t just be biological), “But let’s also not claim it supports the sexism theory, unless you think people in computer science became more sexist between 1980 and today for some reason.” I mean…points to startup culture I was talking about the genius bias that seems to affect gender balance in some fields back in comment 39, and that’s probably applicable here, too. (That doesn’t mean it explains the entire drop, but it’s probably some of it.)

  90. 95
    Ampersand says:

    Harlequin: Good comment (and interesting point about startup culture, I hadn’t considered that). But…

    women may be more thing-oriented than men

    Was this intended to say “people-oriented”?

  91. 96
    Ben Lehman says:

    According to this article (although I can’t find the study attached), women land 54% of tech interviews in an anonymous, skills-based application process.

    It may be that the solution is some sort of blind application process, like with symphonies.

  92. 97
    Harlequin says:

    It was! Oops…

  93. 98
    RonF says:

    Looking at the Vox piece, a couple of things jumped out at me:

    Yet Google’s workforce is just 19 percent female. So even if we imagine for a moment that the manifesto is correct and there is some biological ceiling on the percentage of women who will be suited to work at Google — less than 50 percent of their workforce — isn’t it the case that Google, and tech generally, is almost certainly not yet hitting that ceiling?

    In other words, it is clear that we are still operating in an environment where it is much more likely that women who are biologically able to work in tech are chased away from tech by sociological and other factors, than that biologically unsuited women are somehow brought in by overzealous diversity programs.

    The fact that those women are not working at Google doesn’t have to mean they were chased away. It can well mean that they do not choose to work there for their own reasons. And did Damore actually argue that “biologically unsuited women are somehow brought in by overzealous diversity programs.”?

    What would be very interesting would be to see how the percentage of women who apply for a job at Google who actually get hired is compared to the percentage of men applicants who get hired. The relative retention stats would be interesting as well.

  94. 99
    Pret says:

    Ben Lehman,

    Here’s one of many, many articles on an attempt to have “blind auditions” for public jobs in Australia. Please Google the many different attempts at this.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-30/bilnd-recruitment-trial-to-improve-gender-equality-failing-study/8664888

    The trial had to be halted because it produced just the opposite effect. Fewer women were hired when no one knew what gender was involved.

  95. 100
    Jane Doh says:

    Finally had time to look at what James Damore has been saying about the sequence of events. Sending the memo to the diversity folks at Google seems like something reasonable for an employee to do in order to express his opinion about something related to diversity at work. Sending the memo to a “skeptic” group seems less defensible, since that group is just a random collection of employees, and likely includes some women who hear this crap regularly, and have to worry about proving themselves all the time. Being surprised it went viral internally and then leaked seems disingenuous to me.

    The guy works at Google, and he sent something controversial (and likely to piss off at least some of his “skeptic” audience) to what sounds like an internally run reddit/listserv kind of thing. It can’t have escaped his notice that people forward stuff around all the time (emails, blog posts, tweets, etc), even when they probably shouldn’t. I think it is hard to predict ahead of time whether most things will go viral, but in this case, I would have been surprised if it stayed hidden long. Google is in the middle of a lawsuit claiming discrimination in compensation. Diversity at Google is a thing right now. Maybe he was surprised that Google fired him, but color me skeptical that he didn’t think a wider audience would see it.

    I think Damore would have a strong case for wrongful termination if he kept his comments to the diversity group at Google (whose job it is to consider such things). By sending them to a random assortment of his colleagues (the “skeptic” group) on the company dime using company resources while the company is embroiled in a discrimination suit, he was asking for trouble. Why couldn’t he have tested his arguments outside of his workplace?

    RonF, this is a debate that should not take place with your colleagues (unless you work in HR, or they have indicated an interest in discussing this). I am already aware that a sizable fraction of my work peers think I am unqualified until I prove otherwise. Having it stated outright just makes everything much more unpleasant. Being told I am not like other women (and that is why I can do my job) does not make it better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *