About the infamous Google Memo… Here is a review of reactions to the controversial piece.
- A Google engineer, James Damore, wrote a memo entitled Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber. [Read original]
- It went viral via internal communication means within Google.
- He got fired because of it.
- (A less relevant, but curious fact: Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks who is holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, offered him a job and accused Google of censorship.)
Here are some interesting articles from both sides:
The Economist (sits on the fence)
“This isn’t a question of legality or policy. This is a question of virtue-signalling” [Read]
Bloomberg (argues it was wrong for Google to foreclose the debate so crudely)
“An employee trying to grapple with these problems — clumsily but earnestly — has now been shown the door, thanks mostly to performative online outrage.” [Read]
The Financial Times (denounces the author)
“Responding to the memo is somewhat challenging because it is almost pure drivel, offering up a mix of fallacies, mindless reductions of popular social science and hand-waving at ‘research.'” [Read]
The Atlantic (addressing the error-full coverage of the matter)
“To object to a means of achieving x is not to be anti-x.” [Read]
The Atlantic, again (agrees memo is discriminatory)
“The memo… seemed to dash hopes that much progress has been made in unraveling the systemic conditions that produce and perpetuate inequity in the technology industry. “[Read]
Slate (is pretty enraged)
“The manifesto suggests a culture that is inviting enough for someone who views some of his fellow employees as lesser to share his opinions and be cheered on” [Read]
Business Insider (highlights authors vulnerable legal position in the context of free speech)
The First Amendment to the US Constitution prevents the government from restricting your speech. It doesn’t restrict your employer from controlling your speech when you are at work, citing a Google manager: “freedom of speech is the right to freely express an opinion. It is most assuredly not the right to express an opinion with freedom from the consequences.”
Quillette (has four psychologists sustain points made my memo author)
“Psychological interchangeability makes diversity meaningless. But psychological differences make equal outcomes impossible. Equality or diversity. You can’t have both.” [Read]
Right-wing Twitter is rallying to support the author of the memo:
A Linked influencer, Adam Grant (argues that differences between men and women are exaggerated)
“Across 128 domains of the mind and behavior, “78% of gender differences are small or close to zero.” A recent addition to that list is leadership, where men feel more confident but women are rated as more competent.” [Read]
Scott Alexander of Slate Star Codex (refutes Grant’s points)
“Suppose I wanted to convince you that men and women had physically identical bodies. I run studies on things like number of arms, number of kidneys, size of the pancreas, caliber of the aorta, whether the brain is in the head or the chest, et cetera. 90% of these come back identical – in fact, the only ones that don’t are a few outliers like “breast size” or “number of penises”. I conclude that men and women are mostly physically similar. I can even make a statistic like “men and women are physically the same in 78% of traits”.”
Something that occurred to me that I haven’t seen anywhere – and this neither disproves not confirms the memo author’s argument, but it’s something that I feel is important.
Assuming that average men and average women are different in their precise cognitive and emotional strengths, this bears very little significance when it comes to outliers. For its tech roles Google hires from the very top, i.e. from the extreme “end” of the right tail. Outlier men and outlier women don’t behave the same way as average men and women. In fact, outliers are virtually impossible to study with the same confidence that we study average people.
Very curious what you think.
And let’s keep the mood light 🙂
UPD: somebody invited me to Google image “white man and white woman” and “European people history”. What Google shows is below.
One more point of information: Duck Duck Go search results are virtually the same. Make of it what you will.