Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Speaking Truth to Power at Google

If the states are laboratories for democracy—whatever that means—then America’s universities are laboratories for diversity. How’s that one working out, bunky?

By all measures, diversity politics have failed America’s universities. With the exception of STEM courses, these once proud bastions of higher learning have turned into indoctrination mills, teaching the dogmas of political correctness, forcing students to examine their prejudices and their white guilt. Because, what other reason could there be for the fact that minority candidates admitted with vastly inferior SAT scores cannot compete effectively. So, the universities have chosen to solve their problem by becoming more diverse and by hiring more diversity administrators and sponsoring more sensitivity training. Since everyone knows that it’s all a lie, the atmosphere on these campuses often turns toxic. Parents and alumni are refusing to send their children and their money to these places.

But, why have all the high tech behemoths of Silicon Valley drunk the diversity Kool-Aid? Are they trying to solve a corporate problem? After all, these companies are notably successful and extremely profitable. Their shareholders are becoming richer and richer. So, why the push to diversify. They aren’t solving a corporate problem. They are surely not promoting the best interest of shareholders by hiring inferior candidates and then forcing everyone to pretend that they haven’t done so. They are addressing a problem that does not exist and damaging their companies. Ostensibly, they are doing it because they want to fulfill a vision of social justice, by creating a company that looks like America. It doesn't matter whether the new hires can or cannot do their jobs. Google is trying to make reality fulfill the Rawlsian vision of color blind, race neutered vision of justice.

So says James Damore, the recently fired Google software engineer who denounced the policies and the practices.

One watches in wonder as one of the world’s greatest technology companies ties itself into politically correct knots over a memo about free expression and diversity in its ranks. James Damore wrote that the corporate culture was notably hostile to discussions about diversity. It was especially hostile to any arguments that rejected the theory that Google's lack of diversity had been caused by anything other than harmful cultural stereotypes.

Sheryl Sandberg has already told us that it has nothing to do with biology. It’s cultural stereotypes that have filled the ranks of Google and Facebook with more white and Asian males. Moreover said white and Asian males hold the most important engineering and management positions. So, Sandberg, who knows nothing of biology, tells us that it has nothing to do with biology.

Were you to invoke the name of Charles Darwin, Sandberg and others would reject his views as products of white male patriarchal oppression. Wherever does she or the powers that be at Google think that these stereotypes come from? From the moon? From a lost galaxy? Or is it just a massive conspiracy? By the way, what does psychiatric science say about people who promote conspiracy thinking?

You can always ask yourself whether women really want these high tech jobs anyway? You can ask whether they want to compete to rise up the corporate hierarchy? Damore asked the question and was fired for promoting an inconvenient truth. 

Or you can ask yourself what women in college choose as their majors. Do they choose science, technology, engineering or statistics? Or do they choose art history, literature, women’s studies and psychology?

One does not have to use up too many little gray cells to see that a place like Google would be recruiting from the first, more than the second group. But, isn’t this a product of free choices? Don’t we respect women’s right to choose?

For those few of you who care about biology, I will report on an extensive study performed by a clinic in California. The study examined the differences between male and female brains. It showed that there is are significant differences:

It's a popular stereotype: women overthink things more than men.  

Now the biggest brain imaging survey ever conducted has found evidence to support that theory.

Analyzing data from more than 45,000 studies, researchers at Amen Clinics in California concluded that women's brains are significantly more active than men's.

Blood flow was much higher in many parts of women's brains as compared to men's, increasing their ability to focus and empathize but also their vulnerability to feel anxious….

Women's brains were found to be significantly more active than those of men, particularly in two regions - the prefrontal cortex, associated with focus and impulse control, and the limbic system, which is associated with mood and anxiety.

There were some parts of the brain that were more active in men, specifically the visual and coordination centers of the brain. 

Those who do not believe in science but who believe in cultural stereotyping have no use for such studies. They are too busy attacking Donald Trump for playing loose with facts. As for whether or not women are as competitive as men, doesn’t our everyday experience give the lie to that ideologically driven canard?

Anyway, Damore’s memo did not merely suggest that Google company policy—the ones that got him fired—promoted unscientific views. It also suggested that Google, like many an American university enforced ideological uniformity, not by debate and discussion, but by shaming anyone who disagreed with the party line.

He wrote:

… when it comes to diversity and inclusion, Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence.

As though to prove his point, Google fired him for speaking truth to power.

How is the Google monoculture addressing its supposed diversity problem? Damore explains:

However, to achieve a more equal gender and race representation, Google has created several discriminatory practices:

  • Programs, mentoring, and classes only for people with a certain gender or race [5]

  • A high priority queue and special treatment for “diversity” candidates

  • Hiring practices which can effectively lower the bar for “diversity” candidates by decreasing the false negative rate

  • Reconsidering any set of people if it’s not “diverse” enough, but not showing that same scrutiny in the reverse direction (clear confirmation bias)
 He continues, making Google look like any other American university:

  • Our focus on microaggressions and other unintentional transgressions increases our sensitivity, which is not universally positive: sensitivity increases both our tendency to take offense and our self censorship, leading to authoritarian policies. Speaking up without the fear of being harshly judged is central to psychological safety, but these practices can remove that safety by judging unintentional transgression.

  • Microaggression training incorrectly and dangerously equates speech with violence and isn’t backed by evidence.
Another Google employee, speaking anonymously to Breitbart, describes the atmosphere at Google. Social justice warriors have been conducting witch hunts to week out anyone who does not adopt the party line:

A lot of social justice activists essentially spend all day fighting the culture war, and get nothing done. The company has made it a point to hire more people like this. The diversity gospel has been woven into nearly everything the company does, to the point where senior leaders focus on diversity first and technology second. The companywide “Google Insider” emails used to talk about cool new tech, but now they’re entirely about social justice initiatives. Likewise, the weekly all-hands “TGIF” meetings used to focus on tech, but now they’re split about 50/50 between tech and identity politics signaling.

For conservative employees, this is obviously demoralizing, but it is also dangerous. Several have been driven out of the company or fired outright for sharing a dissenting view. Others have had their promotions denied or suffered other forms of deniable retaliation. Most of us just keep our heads down because we can’t afford to lose our jobs.

As for the witch hunts, HAL reports:

The company is currently facing a Federal complaint filed by the National Labor Relations Board in April for interfering with employees’ legal right to discuss “workplace diversity and social justice initiatives.” The complaint alleges that Senior Vice President Urs Holzle and numerous managers in his organization actively stoked up witch hunts in 2015 and 2016 intended to muzzle low-level employees who raised concerns about the company’s practices. The trial is set for November.

Several managers have openly admitted to keeping blacklists of the employees in question, and preventing them from seeking work at other companies. There have been numerous cases in which social justice activists coordinated attempts to sabotage other employees’ performance reviews for expressing a different opinion. These have been raised to the Senior VP level, with no action taken whatsoever….

In another witch hunt, an employee raised concerns that the affirmative action policy (which gives strong preference to women and minorities) could be seen as discriminating against white males. SJWs trawled through his ancient posting history from four years prior, found a stray comment to take out of context, and burned him at the stake for it.

Should we be surprised to see that people hired for reasons that had little to do with merit do not do the important tech jobs, but turn into thought police, attacking and trying to rid the company of anyone who would dare to say that they are incapable of doing the tech jobs? 

Google is an extraordinarily successful company. It is so successful and so profitable that it can afford these follies. For now. One asks oneself how long the company can continue to prosper while it is promoting a toxic corporate culture. Already, the lawyers are circling. One suspects that Google has taken a significant PR hit from the Damore affair already.

If it really wants to model its corporate culture on the University of Missouri or even Brown, it will eventually pay the price.


trigger warning said...

GOOG is a private advertising/SJW company, one whose very name is a misspelling. Who cares who they hire and fire? As SJWs and Progressives always do, their next major line of business (after AdWords) is virtue signaling ("moonshots", vast industrial-scale bird-killing solar magnifying glasses to boil water, broadband blimps, etc.) and junk products (eg, Google Glass for hipster Pajama Boyz).

If AdWords (90% of revenue) collapses because it loses politically incorrect tech stars, GOOG is no more viable than the Chicago Climate Exchange without Congress or Tesla Motors without taxpayer-funded carbon reparations.

JP said...

Google is basically the Internet Yellow Pages. Their business is advertising.

I'm pretty sure that they need sales people and psychologists these days, not engineers.

James said...

Google prospered all these years as some sort of "counter culture" company that was in the the struggle against the Man. With this incident the fact they have become the Man is now public and their down fall will come sooner than people think.

James said...

I personally think that Google is well within it's right to fire him, but in doing so they forfeit their position as an enlightened entity of "free speech" moralists.

Leo g said...

I don't know James. At one time, and hopefully still true, a public company had/has a duty to its shareholders to profit.If actions taken by the company affect its bottom line, thus "robbing" its shareholders of possible gain, then I believe said shareholders have the right to sue said company.

Sam L. said...

Stuart, you left UCal Berkeley and Evergreen State out of your last paragraph. Still, Mizzou was first to fight against sanity.

James said...

Good point, I don't know either.

trigger warning said...

eBay v. Newmark (SCOTUS, 2010) held that directors and officers are bound by a fiduciary duty to promote corporate value for the benefit of stockholders. Given the meteoric rise of GOOG ($926 today, $646B market cap), I doubt there's any joy down that road.

Leo G said...

Interesting article that actually got comments from scientists in the field, including one whose work was referenced -


Ares Olympus said...

Too much drama for me. Why can't we all just get along? Men and women are more alike than different, and surely the bell curves in any behavioral trait overlap.

As a runner, I can get in the top 20% of male competitors, while I'd be in the top 2% of female runners. But probably the top 2% of women runners are just as competitive as the top 2% of male runners.

And its not just averages, but breadth of variations too: there are more male geniuses and more male idiots, and perhaps some have a little of both, with idiot savants who can perform miraculous mental calculations, but can't figure out how to get along with others. There are upsides and downsides for everything.

I see it can be fun to judge internal politics of Google, and maybe we know what really went on. Overall it does look troublesome to fire someone over non-PC opinions, but I'll leave that to the conscience of the people involved.

I can wonder what I'd do if my "free speech" was being used against me, but actually that's a sort of point - speech is free if you want to carry the consequences, and other people have their own free speech to decide whether to associate with you or not.

Sam L. said...

Telling the truth is illegal, immoral, and fattening (if that's how you cope with getting fired).

Ares, you are in TROUBLE, now. Women are WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY better than men. All the SJWs say so. And the HR crowd. REPENT!! REPENT!!

Ares Olympus said...

Sam L. said... Ares, you are in TROUBLE, now.

Indeed, I've long been a trouble maker on all sides. But in college, I read Ashley Montagu's "The Natural Superiority of Women" and found no easy counter argument.

My short rant would say whatever hormonal issues confuse women's ability to objective thinking in moments of stress, unmoderated testosterone in men make us collectively more foolish and sooner dead. Natural selection as much as culture designed men to be more expendable and while we're young and stupid, most men wouldn't have it any other way, and that's how male confidence works.

trigger warning said...

"in college, I read Ashley Montagu's 'The Natural Superiority of Women' and found no easy counter argument."

Well, as Anais Nïn said, "We don't see things as they are; we see them as we are."