Re: We Have A Problem, All Right

1

Can I just read this instead? It's a bit shorter and doesn't make me as angry.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 7:28 AM
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The memo is a well-executed gloss on the latest in intellectual sexism, written to a standard of erudition worthy of a president of Harvard.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 7:53 AM
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1. Gosh, that's really good. I wonder how the author of the anti-diversity memo explains Google's success as a company, given the fact that it has been crippled by political correctness.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 8:06 AM
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3: "You call that success?"


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 8:11 AM
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I couldn't even read the tl;dr, but that response in 1 is excellent. It summarizes what every male nerd ought to learn to escape their libertarian/"if only everyone would let me do what I want for I am intellectually superior" phase.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 8:18 AM
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Said phase is also almost always accompanied by the "anything I am not good at must not be important" move. People are depressingly predictable.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 8:20 AM
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Problem? Problem? PROBLEM???
THE PROBLEM IS YOU!


Posted by: Mr. Rotten | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 8:43 AM
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I'm sure the current political environment has nothing to do with dipshits like this thinking they're being brave truthtellers not racist/sexist morons.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 9:31 AM
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I couldn't even read the tl;dr, but that response in 1 is excellent.

Seconded.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 9:39 AM
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In fairness to Trump and other Republican leaders, I'm pretty sure this particular kind of dipshit has been around since before 2016, 2010, or whatever milestone we want to identify as the current genesis of the Republican Party. They've capitalized on the movement but didn't create it.

Then again, in some sense Republicans can trace their roots back to Nixon, and I'm actually not sure this specific kind of dipshit is older than that.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 9:39 AM
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That response was excellent, and said much better something I was stewing about after the original screed was released. In particular, all I kept thinking about was that, you know, 90% of Google's business is making products for PEOPLE. advertising to PEOPLE. understanding what PEOPLE want and delivering it. they're not just developing code for the fun of it in some customer-less vacuum.

Also, after they were roundly mocked for the google glass debacle for not understanding what people actually wanted, do you know what they did? (She's also one of my stepmom's best friends.)


Posted by: sam | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 9:41 AM
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Somehow the link got screwed up in my last post - all the text disappeared and now it links to the text that should follow the quoted language - it should say that they went and hired a genius woman to run their entire Hardware division.


Posted by: sam | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 9:42 AM
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Christ, that thing. Mrs. Buchanan--perhaps this isn't the most thought-out pseud--is a long-time employee there and this has been a huge stressor for us all weekend. To compound it, she has a completely asinine manchild teammate who supports it. A free-speech absolute libertarian idiot who thinks he should be able to say whatever he wants without repercussions, who has in the past month has insulted women, minorities in general, Jewish people, and Brits. As if being a woman in tech wasn't too damned difficult already. Fuckers don't get how unsafe and unwanted this makes women feel--they're more concerned about co-opting the language of diversity and tolerance in service of their feelings of their own superiority, and get seriously butthurt about it when they're called out on it.


Posted by: James Buchanan | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 10:02 AM
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11 the original article said that women are better in dealing with people too- it isn't crazy bad it is just the the normal libertarian crap.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 10:05 AM
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The original article says that women are better at dealing with people but worse at leading them. Riddle me that, Batman.

(Admittedly, the original, original article did have references in it that might point towards an explanation of stuff like this, but they were stripped out when it was leaked. Hypothesis is that the leaker took pictures of their work laptop with their phone and sent them to Gizmodo, who then reassembled it without links. I'm sure they're shit, too.)


Posted by: James Buchanan | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 10:09 AM
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Honestly, I'm not calling Batman sexist or anything, but he clearly has some issues with women.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 10:13 AM
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I read the one with references. Maybe it was on another site (Motherboard, maybe?). That is not to say I read the references, because life is too short.

Given my prior that Google is CS grad school with extra amenities and AdSense, there wasn't much in it that surprised me. The author allegedly just wanted to have a "conversation" about his opinions. This is of course a standard troll tactic.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 10:28 AM
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I'm not calling Batman sexist or anything

Why not? Go on, you know it'll make you feel better. As well as being true.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 10:32 AM
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I don't think these ideas go away with Trump in 4/8 years.

In their polite form, good liberal at NY Times editors eat them up:

http://www.susanpinker.com/the-sexual-paradox/


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 10:39 AM
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There are two Pinkers?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 10:46 AM
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True story. I once watched a google engineer pick up a knife by the blade. And I'm pretty sure he's in no way sexist or racist.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 10:48 AM
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AIPMHALOB.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 10:50 AM
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I'm ready to believe that the piece is wrong on a lot of points. But I don't know which ones, because the silencing it refers to is real, as the diversity VP's reply - and the profusion of blatant lies about what the piece said - shows.

An honest response from Google would have been to explicitly say that Google doesn't tolerate some types of open criticism of to its diversity policies, and to be explicit about what sorts of criticism are forbidden. In the absence of such clear boundaries and leadership, I would not expect to feel safe at Google. That's OK, not every environment has to be good for every person - but it is pretty dishonest to talk as though tolerance in full generality were a thing. There is always, and only, tolerance of specific things, people, and behaviors - and tolerance of some will always imply intolerance of others.

Overall, I'm not sure discourse on this topic is possible in our current society, because everyone on all sides is too triggered by it.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 10:52 AM
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In particular, the baseline level of dishonesty around distinguishing between population-level differences in average, and how we should treat individuals on a case-by-case basis, seems insurmountable in the current environment.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 10:55 AM
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Yes, the usual libertarian shit. Calling an entire race/sex/whatever inferior is "free speech." Calling somebody a fuckhead in response is "intolerance."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 10:56 AM
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Really, how hard would it have been for the diversity officer just to say, "our opinion is that there are no population-level differences, because believing otherwise will predictably cause people to unfairly discriminate against women and some minorities"?

Answer: actually impossible.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 10:57 AM
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This is what I see Trump as spearheading to a lot of people - he (semi-passively, in his perpetual failing-upwards) is the personification of their deep need for a tacit understanding that white men are supposed to be the ones who come out on top when all is said and done, and the main way this is voiced is by denouncing as discriminatory any attempts to counteract the biases that help them. Sessions against affirmative action, this memo writer against corporate diversity policies, all part of the same broad movement.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 10:58 AM
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Why the fuck would anybody care about population differences on average if they weren't trying to use it justify fucking over individuals on a case-by-case basis?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 10:59 AM
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28 before seeing 26.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 10:59 AM
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27: All topped off with the blatant effort to restore Jim Crow voting rules where possible.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 11:00 AM
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28: They might be concerned that someone is drawing inappropriate inferences from inequality of outcomes, in ways that will predictably lead to wasted effort. This is pretty explicitly stated in the text of the "anti-diversity screed".

You might think he's lying, of course, but it's what he says, and it seems to me like this would obviously be an important thing to consider if we could do so honestly.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 11:05 AM
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I don't just think he's lying. I think there's a whole history of other people doing the same kind of thing who were proved to be lying and, in light of all that has happened since Trump started running, I don't see the benefit of playing nice about what I think.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 11:07 AM
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I would just really like it if, when someone says X, and people think they're lying and actually mean Y, people described it as:

"They said X but were lying and actually meant Y"

instead of

"They said Y"

The second one is going to reliably confuse anyone who wasn't already tracking the baseline level of dishonesty - such as me up until a few months ago. Turns out, if you fucking lie to people about things that are easily checkable, sometimes they'll be less inclined to consider the merits of your point of view!


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 11:08 AM
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Like what?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 11:11 AM
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lots of colleges have preferences for men over women in admissions

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/03/27/admit

and whites over asians:

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/03/27/admit

the anti-affirmative action thing is opening a can of worms if what Trump really wants to do is give preferences to white men.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 11:13 AM
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Like, it's hard for me to check the underlying facts about sex differences in personality, in part because I don't actually trust any "experts" on any side to be honestly trying to inform me anymore. But, it's easy for me to go read the "anti-diversity screed" and see what it says.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 11:15 AM
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Proposing something alleged to help people who voted for him but that actually hurts them is sort of Trump's thing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 11:15 AM
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36: Why, if you can't trust experts to say why women should be expected to do worse than men, wouldn't you just assume things should be equal until proven otherwise?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 11:17 AM
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37 to 35.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 11:18 AM
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"I can't prove it is based on anything, but just in case it's true, I'm going to give sexism a try."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 11:21 AM
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The linked screed in 1 is actually pretty bad itself. First it claims the memo says women should be prevented from becoming engineers (which it doesn't); then that everything that the memo guy says about gender is wrong, but on the other hand the gender-specific skills women have are exactly what makes for good engineering; then that if the guy were assigned to a team someone would (justifiably) punch him in the mouth, then that if the guy had brought the screed to him he'd have had him marched out of the building.

I do agree with the linked screed that the memo writer has probably written his epitaph at both Google and in a lot of the wider world. I assume his real name has by now been circulated.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 11:23 AM
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35. Congratulations, you have just discovered the importance of leadership and well-roundedness, just as Harvard did when presented with high-scoring applicants who weren't WASPs.

31. Outcomes are much more unequal in the US in CS than in either Math or Physics. Inequality of outcome also varies sharply by country. One mechanism for driving women out is publicly defending assholes who want them out. Are you sure this is a great line of argument to pursue, instead of asking why US CS is worse than other fields of exact science?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 11:27 AM
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Yes, he's trying to say 31: differential outcomes might not be the effect of bias but might be do to underlying population differences. So what does that entail? You're going to have to ignore all the lived experience of people (women, and non-Asian people of color, which I guess suck at coding a priori, too?) saying how they were biased against. Let's ignore the descriptions of the fighting that they had to do because they're women. (And there's a lot of discussion by women about that there internally, and of course copious public discussion everywhere.) I mean, I didn't have to do that.

I thought it was really cool where he talked about how men are mostly judged on status--like, ok, I'll believe that in a professional environment! Then he had a footnote attached to that line about how romantically men are judged on status and women on beauty. Ignoring the truth of that, why the hell would you put that as a footnote when you're talking about professional contexts?

Here's something else he says plainly: the company focuses too much on empathy while complaining that it doesn't give enough space for his ideological positions. Like the post here said a couple months ago, I don't know how to convince you that you should care about other people.

It's really fucking shitty and relies on there lovely old saws about exactly how women act and think, and why we shouldn't expect them to be competitive with men.


Posted by: James Buchanan | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 11:28 AM
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Also, that sort of screed relies really heavily on equivocation between "It is possible that X is the case" and "There is good enough reason to believe that X is the case that it makes sense to take action on that basis." It's really, really, really hard to rule out the possibility of population-level differences between men and women, or different racial groups, in terms of innate ability to do whatever, or innate tendency to value one thing over another, or anything like that. Anything's 'possible' -- how can it be fair to be angry that someone is just raising the possibility that in a perfectly fair world, a disproportionate number of software engineers will be white and Asian men?

The thing is, though, that while it's possible that in a perfectly fair world, women just won't end up working for Google much, there are good empirical reasons to believe that this isn't a perfectly fair world in that respect, and that there are injustices that make succeeding at Google and other tech companies harder for women.

So a screed arguing that maybe efforts to increase diversity are misguided and counterproductive because maybe representation would be disproportionate in a fair world isn't saying anything that isn't possibly true. But it's not likely to be true, and it's not in accordance with good evidence that exists about injustices in the world as it exists, and acting to stop efforts to increase diversity will actually hurt women and minorities.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 11:42 AM
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38: I agree that that's a reasonable starting point. People can also learn things from firsthand experience, from stories other people tell them, and from plausible arguments about selection and acculturation effects that can be evaluated on the merits (NOT the sensationalist Daily Mail style news stories about ev psych "findings", which are mostly lies).


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 11:48 AM
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The smartest and savviest people in the screed-writers position mostly just aren't writing at all. This is part of why what we see is poor-quality!


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 11:50 AM
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How were you envisioning people learning from firsthand experience that women considered population-wise have innately lower levels of aptitude for or interest in software engineering, such that it's plausible that efforts to increase diversity are misguided?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 11:51 AM
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Or, come to think, from 'stories other people tell them'?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 11:52 AM
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43: I think concrete, specific accounts of lived experience of bias aren't given nearly enough weight.

For instance, the popular article recently written by a former Uber employee about its culture of colluding to protect sexual harassers seemed honest, and an extremely valuable addition to the discourse. If someone with a lot of money wanted to improve this sort of thing, they could do a lot worse than setting up an annual prize with big payouts to that sort of whistleblower to compensate them for likely foregone income, stress, etc.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 11:53 AM
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Or, you know, possibly large organizations like Google can pay attention to concrete, specific accounts of lived experience of bias by engaging in efforts to counteract bias of that nature. You could call that sort of thing 'efforts to increase diversity'.

And part of such an effort to increase diversity might be to institutionally indicate that they did not endorse the position that it was likely that underrepresentation of women in tech was due to lower levels of aptitude for technical jobs in the female population rather than to bias.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 11:58 AM
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47, 48: I'm saying that we should not make strong inferences based on these kinds of aggregate statistics, because they're not strong evidence. Instead, you actually have go find out what's going on in particular cases.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:06 PM
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Or, and this is a popular option, you could crack open Charles Murray's book, pat yourself on the back, and carry on.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:09 PM
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52: I don't really see how Murray's book has much to offer here beyond offering some evidence that we should at least be confused by *strong* presumptions that we should see equality of outcome. Certainly it can't justify ignoring concrete claims of specific problems.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:18 PM
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And yet, that's pretty much the only thing anybody ever uses it for.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:24 PM
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50: I'd find Google's position more sympathetic if it weren't simultaneously doing things like massively underpaying women.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:25 PM
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Like, if Google wants to make sure women feel valued and accepted, maybe the first step would be to pay them??????


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:26 PM
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I'm a feminist.


Posted by: Opinionated Charlie Sheen | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:27 PM
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Indeed. Clearly encouraging diversity and paying women more are mutually exclusive and we should shut down the former until the latter is accomplished.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:28 PM
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Yes. It seems reasonable to assume that much of the wage gap at Google ist because people like Mr. Screed-writer are the ones determining salaries.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:31 PM
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Or at least, that it wouldn't take very many of them determining salaries to make a wage gap.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:31 PM
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59: Is your model that the diversity officer is lying when she says Google doesn't endorse the article's conclusions?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:33 PM
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Why would she be lying? Admitting it's a problem is a step to fixing it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:35 PM
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I would not expect to feel safe at Google

Roko's basilisk is going to get you whether you're inside the Googleplex or out.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:37 PM
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if women were more skilled at bringing the evil AIs into existence maybe they wouldn't spend so much of eternity being tortured in simulation, mm? just laying facts on the table


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:40 PM
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Tweety!


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:40 PM
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60: Or you could have a large number of people with slight, correlated unconscious biases making it harder for women to progress through a committee-based promotion process. You don't even have to assume bad actors, but bad actors certainly make it easier. Imagine you're a woman and you find out this guy is on your promotion committee.


Posted by: James Buchanan | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:42 PM
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58: If I say that Google should focus on addressing concrete problems, and LizardBreath responds that things like the diversity officer's response would be a natural part of a comprehensive strategy to address such problems, it is pretty natural for me to reply by pointing out that no such comprehensive strategy is being implemented, since much more important blatantly obvious problems are going unaddressed.

Google's revealed preferences are that it's more important to shut down discourse on this topic than to pay women the same as men for performing the same as men. Consequently I'm pretty suspicious of anyone arguing on Google's side here.

It looks to me like Google is trying to occupy an advantageous position in the culture wars in order to avoid fixing any concrete problems, and the screed-writer is making the mistake of taking liars at their word. That's bad, but it's not bad in the way anyone else here is saying.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:43 PM
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it is pretty natural for me to reply by pointing out that no such comprehensive strategy is being implemented, since much more important blatantly obvious problems are going unaddressed.

So, until they've successfully achieved pay equity and equal representation, it is wrong for them to take the official position that those are things they're in favor of? That's going to make getting there tricky.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:46 PM
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In that process, how is it ever possible to fix any problem. If you have a problem and acknowledge it, you can't fix it because if you really cared, you wouldn't have a problem. If you have a problem and don't acknowledge it, then you don't have anything to fix either.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:47 PM
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Or what LB said.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:47 PM
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62: Because if she says the right words, Google gets credit for trying to fixing the problem regardless of whether it tries anything with a decent chance at working.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:47 PM
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Women type in 79 seconds what men get a whole 100 seconds for.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:48 PM
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68: What would you consider substantial evidence that Google isn't trying?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:48 PM
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71: Who is giving them credit for that?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:49 PM
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If you have a problem and acknowledge it, you can't fix it because if you really cared, you wouldn't have a problem. If you have a problem and don't acknowledge it, then you don't have anything to fix either.

Happiness runs in a circular motion.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:50 PM
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73: Pardon? I don't understand what point you're making.

I mean, if you want an answer to the question, I suppose if someone leaked a memo circulated to all of senior management at Google saying "If we keep paying lip service to diversity we can get away with continuing to oppress women and underrepresented minorities, Bwahahah," that'd be pretty good evidence that Google did not intend their pro-diversity efforts to be successful. Were you thinking of something different?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 12:57 PM
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Related: everyone on twitter is insane, young people http://www.vulture.com/2017/08/the-toxic-drama-of-ya-twitter.html


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 1:03 PM
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There's a reason I don't interact with twitter unless someone pulls something out to the part of the web without character limits.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 1:08 PM
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I doubt the passionate young-adult novel fanbase on Tumblr is much better.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 1:11 PM
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How young are the readers of young adult?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 1:15 PM
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This quote from ajay's article is amazing: "I have never seen social interaction this fucked up," she wrote in an email. "And I've been in prison."


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 1:16 PM
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Kevin Drum pulled out a couple of good quotes from the article, though, that make it sound like less of a big deal. The attacked book is, despite the twitter furor, a best-seller that's getting good reviews.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 1:20 PM
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My favorite quote from the Kevin Drum post:

In an interesting twist, the teens who make up the community's core audience are getting fed up with the constant, largely adult-driven dramas that currently dominate YA. Some have taken to discussing books via backchannels or on teen-exclusive hashtags -- or defecting to other platforms, like YouTube or Instagram, which aren't so given over to mob dynamics.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 1:30 PM
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I thought YouTube was for racism and Instragram for butts?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 1:32 PM
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Youtube is big enough that it can fit racism, teen drama, and butts--the three main kinds of content on the internet.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 1:34 PM
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EXCUSE US?


Posted by: OPINIONATED CATS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 1:35 PM
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IT'S NOT LIKE NON-OPINIONATED CATS ARE EVEN A THING.


Posted by: CATS GENERALLY | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 1:36 PM
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Well, I have to say I didn't think I'd find someone who was simultaneously sympathetic to the manifesto's author while also cloaking themselves in righteousness for defending underrepresented groups in tech, but here we are. Well done!


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 1:39 PM
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88: Google's failure to do enough to mitigate bias demonstrates that the screed-writer is correct that Google is doing too much to mitigate bias. Or something.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 1:54 PM
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I'm not even sure cats are a thing.


Posted by: Opinionated Schrödinger | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 1:56 PM
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76: That seems like an evidential standard that will never, ever call out an individual for acting in bad faith so long as they're clever enough not to tell anyone that they're lying.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 2:13 PM
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||
Waving hello to the Los Angelenos from LAX on my way home Alaska.
|>


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 2:15 PM
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69: It would be really easy for Google to acknowledge concrete specific problems for which Google might plausibly be at fault or have to incur some costs to fix them, if Google cared.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 2:16 PM
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88 to 91.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 2:16 PM
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88: Who's claiming to be righteous here?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 2:17 PM
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^from


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 2:17 PM
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Did you want me to make an exhaustive list of things that would convince me that Google, as an entity, was insincere about diversity? Because it'd be a long list to type into a comment box, and there's probably stuff I wouldn't think of.

I'm not really sure where you're going with this, though. What's the next step in the argument?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 2:17 PM
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And 93.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 2:17 PM
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97.2: Anybody who tries to stop being racist or sexist is the real racist or sexist. I've seen this movie before.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 2:19 PM
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Basically I think these problems are mostly easy if you try at all, but it's possible to spend a lot of time visibly *pretending to try* really hard if you're good enough at positioning yourself politically, institutions getting a free pass for pretending to try is the actual problem, and shaming at the guy trying to add information to the system is actively antithetical to solving any actual concrete problem here even if he's not particularly good at adding info.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 2:21 PM
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I mean, you seem to be arguing that it is wrong for Google and those associated with it to explicitly disapprove of people arguing that efforts to increase diversity are misguided because there's a good chance that women are, as a segment of the population, less likely to be well suited for tech jobs than men, unless Google's other efforts to increase diversity are maximally effective.

I'm not getting how that argument works. Isn't it possible that publicly disapproving with this screed is either acceptable, or an actively good thing to do, even though not everyone at Google is wholeheartedly and effectively working for equality?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 2:21 PM
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It's even more popular than "People who try to give government benefits to poor people are the cause of poverty."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 2:21 PM
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shaming at the guy trying to add information to the system

How would you summarize the information he's trying to add to the system? That there are people who believe that women, statistically, tend to be less well suited for technical jobs than men? Because I'm pretty sure everyone interested in the issue knows that. Those of us who approve of efforts to increase diversity in technical fields have, honest to god, heard that there are researchers who think it's pointless because women tend not to be good at that sort of thing. We just disagree with their conclusions.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 2:24 PM
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100: Businesses (and people in general) very often try to claim credit for doing something they didn't do with small gestures. This is true. But the rest of your argument is the problem. Because "shaming at the guy trying to add information" is assuming he's telling the truth (which is to say, that sexism/racism isn't the problem). So you've argued that sexism isn't the problem if you assume sexism isn't the problem.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 2:27 PM
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Shit.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 2:28 PM
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_Basically I think these problems are mostly easy if you try at all_

Breaking my longtime commenting hiatus to say that I literally LOLed at this one.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 2:28 PM
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And also to reveal that I am more used to formatting on Slack these days.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 2:29 PM
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Blume!


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 2:33 PM
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Moby!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 2:35 PM
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100 really is weird. Thinking that " institutions getting a free pass for pretending to try is the actual problem" doesn't seem to me to make any sense unless you're pretty firmly convinced that 'try'ing (in context, trying to reduce gender bias in employment) is a good thing to do.

The screed-writer isn't adding information other than his belief that efforts to reduce bias might be a bad idea, because there are people who believe that women are less likely to be good at technical jobs innately, so maybe there isn't much bias happening at all.

But -- if you think the ineffectualness of institutions trying to remedy gender bias is a serious problem, why would you think that someone trying to talk an institution out of remedying gender bias was harmless?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 2:48 PM
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Also, everyone involved with 77 should be locked in a room together for eternity. Preferably soundproof.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 2:57 PM
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110: The existence of misguided, poorly thought through, ineffectual, information-destroying, and dishonest solutions doesn't mean there's no problem, or that it's insomuble. It just means that the labels on solutions aren't very informative.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 2:58 PM
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*insoluble


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 2:59 PM
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The real crime of humanities professors in the 80s is they unleashed PO/MO as a weapon for the Right Wing. Now the left is living in evidence-based reality, and the Right just counters everything with with, "like, it's just your opinion man." Somehow this manages to be effective, even though it's deployed by the same people who like to pretend they believe in things like rigorous, evidence based research.



Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 3:00 PM
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Again, you're begging the question. "Information-destroying" assumes the screed writer is honest and unbiased.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 3:02 PM
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114. Not you.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 3:02 PM
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PO/MO

Is that like AC/DC?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 3:13 PM
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I gotta say, I would never have predicted, given what I know about Benquo's social milieu, that he'd be the one to be super concerned about the proper amount of charity to be given to (a) pseudointellectual claptrap in a scientific-racism vein in general and (b) the specific possibility of population-level differences in "innate aptitudes" for various things—it comes, to me, as a great surprise.

Really, how hard would it have been for the diversity officer just to say, "our opinion is that there are no population-level differences, because believing otherwise will predictably cause people to unfairly discriminate against women and some minorities"?

Bernard-Williams-Deciding-to-Believe-dot-tee-ex-tee

(The correct position, and actual statement, is "the question of population-level differences is irrelevant". People worried about the putative futility of trying anyway can be directed to kindly stop spreading FUD, which is known not to be helpful, and possibly also be directed to the long history of cases in which putative generic differences went away when people got their minds (more) right. Assuming they're arguing in good faith in the first place, which they probably aren't.)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 3:14 PM
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117: In New Zealand.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 3:15 PM
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Basically I think these problems are mostly easy if you try at all

The first sentence of 118, mutatis mutandis, is hereby incorporated by reference. Hey, how effective would you say your altruism has been on these points lately?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 3:16 PM
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120: I've basically given up on the effective altruism movement since it's not actually trying to keep track of what works as far as I can tell. I've been about as public as I know how to be about my changed mind on that issue.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 3:52 PM
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I'm ready to believe that the piece is wrong on a lot of points. But I don't know which ones, because the silencing it refers to is real

So there is no evidence available by which to evaluate this piece? Among other things, that's an argument from personal ignorance. There has been plenty of research on this topic.

I am struck by the similarities between this conversation and the Summers kerfluffle that I referenced in 2. His defenders talked about how he was being suppressed for his political incorrectness, and his critics talked about the science underlying gender differences.

Except nobody has had to even get into the latter issue here, because nobody seems to be willing to defend, on a factual basis, the screed-writing douchebag's claims.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 3:52 PM
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In my and their defense, some committed central-to-the-movement effective altruists are the sort of people who saw that critique on my blog and encouraged me to post it on the EA forum. So I had some reason to think the movement could have done something interesting.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 3:56 PM
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122: Summers was punished for challenging the patriarchy.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 3:57 PM
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Both sides of the debate are confused about this point.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 3:58 PM
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103: He thinks people are being honest when they say that they believe they need to do something about discrimination because women are underrepresented at Google relative to their share of the population. He is correctly pointing out that this argument doesn't actually make sense or show what people are implicitly claiming it shows. If statistical underrepresentation - as opposed to things like fairly strong widespread anecdotal evidence and lived experience - were anyone's primary reason for believing this is a problem, he'd be adding information to the system.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 4:08 PM
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You sound as if you believe there are people who work at Google who have said that statistical underrepresentation, in the absence of any other information about the existence of bias in the real world, is the only reason they have for advocating action to increase diversity. Not only do you believe these people exist (who deny there is any evidence, beyond statistical evidence, of bias in the workplace), you're calling them liars who need to be called out.

I don't think you're going to be able to point to anyone who fits your description. Anyone who thinks bias in the workplace is a problem relies partially on anecdote and lived experience to support that.

The reason why people use statistics to measure discrimination is not that lived experience doesn't also show discrimination, it's because it's a lot harder to tell lies about statistics than about reasons for discriminating against women on a case by case basis.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 4:19 PM
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125: Oh good Christ. If only women were clever enough to see who their real friends are.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 4:20 PM
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Summers was punished for challenging the patriarchy.

Well at least now we've settled the question of whether or not you're arguing in good faith.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 4:25 PM
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126:

Some people argue that the large difference in gender ratio between computer science and other technical fields like math and the physical sciences is evidence that something fishy is going on.

One could could try to put together a case that those differences should be expected due to some kind of innate differences. I don't think there's sufficient evidence for a solid case, but that's another argument. I don't think the author of the manifesto even made a serious attempt at putting together an argument.

Instead, they make a lot of assertions that, even if they were true, mostly wouldn't explain the gender gap. The author makes claims such as "Women on average show a higher interest in people and men in things". I don't see why those differences should cause women to go into math instead of computer science. I'm not going to list all of the claims, but I don't see how any of the claims is even relevant other than, arguably, the status claim, and I don't really buy that one.

In addition to not linking the claims to the actual gender gap, the author doesn't provide evidence that the claims are true. Maybe those were in the footnotes that were stripped, but just based on where the footnotes are placed, I don't think they could have supported all of their claims.

I agree with your statement, above, that many people are mischaracterizing the manifesto. My opinion is:

1. The manifesto is not well crafted and fails to make its case.
2. Many people are attributing opinions to the author of the manifesto that the author may not hold and are arguing against those opinions instead of the content of the manifesto.

It sounds like you agree with (2), but you think the manifesto does present a valid argument. Is that right?


Posted by: sral | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 4:41 PM
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I don't want to interrupt people discussing the other ways in which you're wrong, Benquo, but contra your link, the Social Security Trust Fund dates from the 1980s and was not "adopted specifically to give people the impression that they had some sort of property rights over their social Security Pension, in order to make the program politically difficult to eliminate". Social Security had been running with near-universal popular support under PAYGO accounting for almost 50 years; what was lacking in 1983 was belief that the system was stable. (Belief in Social Security's reliability then improved and has dropped somewhat since, thanks in part to Pete Peterson's gang of granny-starvers propagandizing against it.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 4:42 PM
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77. The bit about fearing that reading these "problematic" YA books will hurt teens reminds me of the uproar over violent and scary comic books back in the 50's. That generation turned out okay. (Hmm, maybe I need to rethink that.)

On the age range of YA readers, I've read a small bunch of them: the Hunger Games books, the Flora Segunda books, and Paolo Bacigalupi's "Ship Breaker" and "The Drowned Cities." (Those latter should be distinguished from his adult-oriented books like "The Wind-up Girl" and the "The Water Knife.") I am significantly older than a teenager.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 4:49 PM
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130: I think the manifesto as written refers to - but doesn't independently make very well - a correct case against something that a lot of people say but very few actually believe.

131: Thanks for the correction!


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 4:56 PM
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On the topic of Summers, above, if anybody is interested in seeing Steve Pinker get completely fucking owned by (fellow Harvard Psych professor) Elizabeth Spelke w/r/t the factual basis of Summers's claims, here you are.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 4:56 PM
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Actually, RE 131, the first page of that link refers to problems the trust fund developed in the 1970s. That seems surprising if the trust fund dates from the '80s.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 4:58 PM
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I'm torn between being delighted that this thread has drawn so many old, dear faces out of the commenting woodwork, and sputteringly annoyed that this thread is getting derailed so effectively by one person.

One thing that I think is not getting nearly enough attention is the absolutely ludicrousness of even making claiming about "inherent" differences, period. People are phenomenally socialized from the moment they slide out of the womb (and by environment even before then!). There is NO control group of pure, unsocialized beings who could illustrate to us the "inherent" existence of ANY human trait.

Moreover, the overwhelming majority of research I'm familiar with says that even with traits that do have "inherent" (that is, genetic) tendencies, such as height, the impact of environmental factors (and secondarily social/nurturing factors) have significantly more effect on outcomes.

Friendly amendment to sral:

Many people are attributing opinions to the author of the manifesto that the author may not hold and are arguing against those opinions instead of the content of the manifesto.

At least in the commentary I've seen, people are drawing conclusions based on both the text of the document itself, and on the breadcrumbs of its existence, its vocabulary, and its "citations."

To take an example NOT drawn from this case, once you've had the nine-billionth argument with a man who equates "females" and "men," it is my opinion that you are justified in assuming that any future man who uses those terms can be regarded with extreme suspicion.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 4:59 PM
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against something that a lot of people say but very few actually believe.

Would you like to say explicitly and completely what it is?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 5:01 PM
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-ly, -ing, +s

So sputtering I mixed up my tenses.

Also, I hope it is clear that by "traits" I'm not talking about mechanical things like knee reflexes, which of course I agree that an infant could demonstrate.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 5:01 PM
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Infant s/b newborn.

Also, the prior comment was me.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 5:01 PM
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135 - I simplified; there was a thing called the Trust Fund prior to 1983, but it was largely an accounting fiction for holding pay-as-you-go funds rather than meant for pre-funding future years of Social Security payments. The 1939 amendments to the Social Security Act have the particular details; prior to 1939, the money lived in the "Old-Age Reserve Account" (renamed in 1939), but the money was still allocated on a year-by-year basis.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 5:08 PM
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A woman needs a fish like a man with a strange pica needs a bicycle


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 5:09 PM
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(While I'm pedanting, I should note that I quite like your discussion of the Effective Altruism people itself; the Social Security-as-Ponzi scheme is a reliable trigger for me, though.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 5:10 PM
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People are phenomenally socialized from the moment they slide out of the womb

Head-baby, FTW.


Posted by: Opinionated Athena | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 5:13 PM
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Because.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 5:33 PM
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If the Buddhists are right about that reincarnation thing, I will figure out a way to say "so here i am
parent me" at my next birth.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 5:40 PM
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136: Can you spell out the "females" and "men" issue.? I know I'm being really dense, but that went over my head. My MIL says females, and it annoys me. But mostly, I think that's an aesthetic response. It just seems tacky to me. Can you give me an example where someone would use females to describe women and wouldn't say male? Again, I know I'm being dumb, but this is a genuine question.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 6:03 PM
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140, 142: Ah, that makes sense. And thanks! The thing I was trying to say with that example was that it's not impossible for a sustainable or otherwise desirable program to be using sketchy accounting, and there's a continuum from obviously-unsustainable schemes to ones that scale sufficiently well with the nominal growth of the economy that they can last for many generations. I was a little worried that people would read it as an attack on social security, but I had already written way too many words.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 6:32 PM
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I had already written way too many words.

You don't say.


Posted by: (gensym) | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 6:44 PM
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137: I've said it a few times already, and I'm reluctant to repeat myself, but here goes.

When people quote statistics about *representation* as their go-to evidence of discrimination, this suggests via Gricean implication that this is the best evidence they have. "Best" isn't well-defined, but for someone assuming that discourse is honest, it would probably be some combination of evidential strength and compactness.

In fact, that's not almost anyone's real reason for thinking that sexism is a problem as far as I can tell, and it's easy to find cases where women and men are present in equal numbers and sexism is still a problem.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 6:44 PM
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136: It would be great to have honest discourse about how patriarchy takes what might be fairly small or easily bridgeable cognitive and biological differences between the sexes and amplifies them, to a point where individuals have to give up on quite a lot to participate in a world where "equality" means letting everyone participate if and only if they play out a traditionally male gender role. (Settled civilization seems to often massively amplify lots of aspects of sexual dimorphism - compare this with this.)


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 6:52 PM
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Seriously? You are looking at people who are talking about statistical measures of disproportionate representation as evidence of bias, deducing that there would be no reason to to that unless they meant to assert there was no other evidence of bias, and then calling them dishonest on the basis of your batshit deduction? Let alone that you haven't identified anyone specific who is relying on statistics alone (rather than in combination with particular incidents of discrimination) as their sole evidence of the existence of bias to attribute this 'dishonesty' to.

You are making literally no sense.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 6:59 PM
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What do you think statistics are used for in any context? It's so you can talk about a large number of data points without having to individually describe each data point.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 7:02 PM
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What do you think statistics are used for in any context?

Can't wait to see what Moby does with this one.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 7:04 PM
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In conclusion, because women are over-represented in nursing, "diversity" is a fraud.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 7:04 PM
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Personally, I think you should use statistics to test and develop theory, not just describe. But in this case the theory is pretty obvious (sexism exists).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 7:08 PM
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Anyway, I use statistics to earn a living and it's been a very busy week since I need to do a week's work this week and I'm leaving town on Wednesday.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 7:10 PM
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I don't know a single woman who thinks the most pressing issue facing our species is the emergence of strong AI that will enslave us all and torture simulations of us, but I know several men who do. Just goes to show you how irrational women are, doesn't it?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 7:10 PM
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Related: The Matrix is on Netflix now. I think Carrie-Anne Moss in leather is a partial explanation.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 7:12 PM
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157: As someone who in a previous thread was probably too easy on simulationists, Roko's Basilisk is probably the most fun completely batshit idea coming out of that rationalist community. I'd probably be more bummed over it if I knew anyone who took it seriously.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 7:23 PM
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The ratio of "probably" to other words in that post was too high, so I'll distract you all by noting that that guy got fired.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 7:24 PM
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159: I was going to google that this morning, but forgot. I'll do it now.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 7:27 PM
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For fuck's sake.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 7:28 PM
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146: It's a tic that a lot of Men's Rights Activists use. I don't know why it started, but in short, they use "females" as if it is a noun, rather than a word that modifies another word (female human being, female pilot). This would just be mildly grating if they did it equally to women and men, but the kind of people who use "female" very, very, very often will say use "men" in a parallel sentence.

For example: "Men are rational thinkers, but females are just emotional."

In short, it's dismissive and dehumanizing.

(On a completely separate note, your cousin's (?) nut-theft article linked in the other thread was hilarious, informative, and full of Moby-worthy puns.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 7:29 PM
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Yes. Very good article.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 7:32 PM
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134: Gosh, that's a lot of material for a person with my attention span, but I certainly want to give it a look. I do feel compelled to point out that there's some significant nonsense in the intro, to wit:

It's interesting to note that since the controversy surrounding Summers' remarks began, there has been an astonishing absence of discussion of the relevant science...you won't find it in the hundreds and hundreds of articles in major newspapers; nor will find it in the Harvard faculty meetings where the president of the leading University in America was indicted for presenting controversial ideas.

I can't speak for Harvard faculty meetings, but in fact there was quite a lot of discussion of the relevant science -- just not by Summers supporters.

Scientists debate continually, and reality is the check. They may have egos as large as those possessed by the iconic figures of the academic humanities, but they handle their hubris in a very different way.

This is hilariously ahistorical. I suppose I should cut the writer some slack here because this is an accurate representation of idealized science -- the science that we aspire to.

We know, however, that actual science, as practiced, conclusively demonstrated the inferiority of women, Africans, Jews, etc., until society was ready to accept a different answer.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 7:38 PM
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"females" are the new "but her emails"


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 7:55 PM
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The rollout of the new Google Screeder service has not gone well.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 7:57 PM
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And now the usually-sensible Jeet Heer is tweeting utter nonsense about this, saying that this guy got fired for his "ideas." Luckily his mentions are full of people explaining why this is baloney.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 8:07 PM
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Ah, this fucking thing. I'm mildly torn. As to the correctness merits of the issue, 118.last.first is on point. Anyway, you can't go publishing this kind of thing at work. It's gonna make a good fraction of your coworkers angry, sad, whatever, a bunch of them are going to hate you, etc. The guy who wrote it is probably an idiot and should never be allowed to write something seen by most Googlers again, most easily accomplished by him being fired.

But yet... Google has a ton of socially challenged engineers. Some of them say stupid shit. Many of them assume that their issues are the most important, that anyone who disagrees with them is obviously acting in bad faith, and that while they have motivations everyone else directly wills the consequences of their actions. It's fucking annoying, and if people mention that then they get told "you don't understand, you're problems are nothing compared to mine," which may be true but is not the point. Most of this behavior on internal communication media comes from the side of social justice which in a way is even harder to cope with.

Basically whoever came up with "bring your whole self to work" is an idiot who should not be allowed near anything resembling an acceptable behavior policy.


Posted by: Melania Trump | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 8:21 PM
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Based on this thread the guy was in fact fired for his ideas. The dispute shouldn't be over that fact, but over the propriety of the firing.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 8:25 PM
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Or more likely for saying his ideas out loud where too many people could hear.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 8:26 PM
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More explicitly, if you think that some censorship is appropriate (and I do) then you should be aware that you believe in censorship, and be willing to admit that, at least in private.
To be entirely clear, I don't defend Google or the googledouche.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 8:33 PM
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Dude. Mossy. Censorship is government exerting control over what you can say. Private companies are not committing censorship just because they tell you you can't say something and still work for them.

Also, this isn't about what he thinks. It's about what he DOES. If you have ever supervised an employee or worked as part of a team, I'm confident you can imagine that if a colleague: 1) publishes a 10-page screed in a place WHERE THE WHOLE COMPANY CAN SEE IT, and 2) that screed bluntly says that a significant number of his co-workers don't deserve to work with him because of their demography, and 3) those demographic characteristics are legally protected under the 1965 Civil Rights Act, and 4) his action thus exposed the company to significant legal liability, not to mention 5) that screed scared and alienated a large number of his co-workers, then 6) he is not being fired for his "ideas." He's being fired for his ACTIONS.



Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 8:48 PM
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I agree with Heer that there should be more laws against employer retaliation for political speech with no work/professional bearing. This does not seem like an example of such.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 8:53 PM
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Surely censorship is also telling your employees they can't say something and still work for them also. (E.g you can't talk about your pay rates, the union, the fact that the downstream effects of the poisonous chemical factory are also poisonous).


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 8:54 PM
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But also this guy is clearly a terrible example for that argument because his speech is probably something which a company is not only ethically justified in policing but probably ethically required to do so.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 8:56 PM
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175: I have broken rules about "not being supposed to talk about pay" at every single place I have ever worked. I think companies are wrong and stupid to forbid it. But I definitely do not think it is "censorship." That is a specific word with specific meaning.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 9:00 PM
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Dude was an obvious d*****-bag. But I'm not so keen on having people fired.

And yeah, we can say that his words were actually actions, but I'm not convinced this is a speech-act theory that will help us in the end.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 9:00 PM
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173.2 re action not words, see 171.
173.1 re definition of censorship:
1. Second Keir.
2. Speaking for myself, I do defend some censorship as "government exerting control over what you can say".
3. Your own defense of the firing invokes the Civil Rights Act, not a censorship law per se, but a law that evidently has the effect of placing some restrictions on speech.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 9:01 PM
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Censorship is government exerting control over what you can say.

An admittedly pedantic point: The First Amendment prohibits the government from controlling these sorts of communications, so only the government can violate the First Amendment. But anybody with authority can censor. Google is censoring.

But that is just to say you and MC both get this right: The question is, should the sumbitch have been fired; and the answer is probably yes, he should.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 9:03 PM
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I really was thinking of censorship and not just the First Amendment. But okay, I'll walk back that claim. Merriam-Webster doesn't say it has to be a government entity that does the censoring, but their two examples are both government.

179.last: I genuinely don't understand the point you're going for here. I'm saying that this employee's actions -- not just holding an opinion in the privacy of his own head, but acting on it by unilaterally deciding that the entire company, including the targets of his derision, needed to KNOW his opinions -- created legal liability for his company.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 9:15 PM
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180 is right, censorship narrowly defined is state only, but I think using such a narrow definition isn't especially useful.
Distinguishing thought and action is also correct, as Witt says and as I said in 171.
Witt* and I are both advocating the suppression** of some actions which are deemed unacceptable by the bulk of society, and those actions are expressive of certain ideas. We can say, with strict accuracy, that such suppression doesn't prevent anyone from thinking what they want in the privacy of their own heads; but this is a thin plank to stand on.
*If I understand her (?) correctly.
**I, by state and private actors, Witt at least by the latter.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 9:20 PM
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181.1: comity.
181.2: I was responding to your claim that censorship could only be committed by the state, which you've since walked back, which makes the rest of the argument pointless.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 9:25 PM
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To second what other people are saying, I agree with 173.2, but think 173.1 is badly stated, and that we shouldn't be quite so fast to dismiss the problems with somebody being fired for their speech.

That said, I am most concerned with cases where employers punish people for speech (and actions) outside of work. It seems much clearer that an employee has some leeway to regulate speech at work.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 9:26 PM
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If he posts the manifesto to his personal website, I don't think Google should re-fire him for it.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 9:30 PM
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FWIW, this has Google's statement: https://www.recode.net/2017/8/7/16110696/firing-google-ceo-employee-penned-controversial-memo-on-women-has-violated-its-code-of-conduct


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 9:38 PM
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The broader problem I see is "A liberal is too open-minded to take his own side in a fight." Part of taking our own side is ruling some speech unacceptable and suppressing it. There's rhetorical cost to saying we want to censor people but I think the fact is we have to.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08- 7-17 10:03 PM
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We can say, with strict accuracy, that such suppression doesn't prevent anyone from thinking what they want in the privacy of their own heads; but this is a thin plank to stand on.

The bold section is quite wrong, imo. Every day, in every professional environment, we make the distinction between what one might think about one's co-workers (or customers), and what it would be appropriate, in a professional setting, to say aloud.* And when you get the company's name in the papers, expect your utterances to be measured against the company's marketing/recruiting goals.

* And we don't weigh whether it's true than one's assistant has a great rack before deciding that we're not the kind of workplace where people talk like that.**

** To drift a bit, because it's late, we have a blogger running for city council. He has, in print, used a derogatory word, beginning with a C, in referring to the President's daughter. Now I could not possibly think less of the President, and don't care much for his daughter either, but there is really no place in public office for someone who talks like that. I'm sure the blogger thinks he's a bold truthteller, and that censorship is just wrong.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 12:00 AM
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Polite discourse restricts itself to the consideration of racks at a population level.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 12:16 AM
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I can't read someone use the word "females" without reading everything else they write in Armin Shimerman's Ferengi voice.

Everytime someone says something along the lines of "men are rational", I think "Have you met men?"


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 2:11 AM
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114: I've been saying this for like eleven years.

http://www.harrowell.org.uk/blog/2007/02/11/schrodingers-veep/


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 3:15 AM
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Also, 77 shouldn't be a surprise. An amazing percentage of the founding figures of twitter subculture started out having stupidly vicious flame wars on science fiction/fantasy fandom LiveJournal and transferred its distinctive voice to the new medium.

If you think about it, there were like five tribes that contributed to the twitter ethnogenesis:

1) Fandom // this imported that special sense of viciousness and York Notes radicalism
2) Reddit & 4Chan // HUR HUR I DID A POO I'M A NAZI DOES THAT OFFEND YOU YEAH
3) Digg/FOSS mailing lists // my linked list implementation is marginally better than yours given these very specific and entirely unrealistic conditions I am a superior
4) Dittoheads // where's the berf stifficut [4,678 lines omitted for brevity]
5) Blogging // oh god where did these people come from


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 3:30 AM
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163: Thanks. My midwestern (Manitoba) mother-in-law says females like that. It always makes me think of animals, and I hate it. I'm going to try to listen. But she never uses the word woman either. S, she'll talk about a doctor and say "she wasn't ordering extra tests, She was a pretty old-fashioned lady." It drives me crazy, but I don't think she would understand if I pointed out why it was problematic, so I let it slide. I sometimes wonder if she thinks I'm being disrespectful when I use the word "woman." Definitely not a men's rights activist - though she comes across as about 10 years older than she is. She's 65 or so, but I hard time thinking of her as having come of age during the 60's.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 3:36 AM
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The other thing that my father-in-law sometimes says is "Gal". I don't care for the term, but I'm not exactly sure why I should object to it, if I don't object to "Guy".


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 3:51 AM
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170. 171, 184: Of course this guy got fired for expressing ideas. This is not even slightly strange. "My supervisor is an idiot and an asshole, and the only reason he has his job is that upper management is too incompetent to promote people who know what they're doing," is an expression of ideas. But if you email that to everyone above you in the hierarchy, there's a good chance you'll get fired for it even if your supervisors aren't personally angry at you, because publicly expressing those ideas means you're likely to act in a way that interferes with getting your job done.

And that's not far off what this guy actually did.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 4:34 AM
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That is, saying generally that it seems plausible to him that Google's efforts to increase diversity are mistaken and harmful because considered as a group, women are less likely to be suited for technical jobs than men is couched in the form of an abstract discussion of ideas. But the immediate implication for any of the women who work with him is that he's arguing that there's a good chance that it was a mistake to hire her -- she shouldn't be in her job. Again, that's a set of ideas, but it's a set of ideas that indicates he's going to be bad at functioning in the workplace.

The fact that he's couching it as broad statements about groups rather than naming names about who in his workplace shouldn't be there really doesn't help,


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 4:48 AM
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Witt in 173 and LB in 195 are right. (Others may be right, but reading comprehension comes after coffee.) I'm glad this guy was fired. His actions were corrosive to the culture, and he has emboldened other men to be jerks to women and look down upon them more openly. Dude dared the company to either fire him or, to some degree, normalize this*. Both of those actions are going to have complex affects on morale but this is clearly the right choice.

As a useful counterexample, recently at an office at this company a prominent reproductive rights organization/service provider was invited to give a talk and solicit donations. Of course there are some conservative employees there, and this lead to some internal discussion about how they didn't like it, it went deeply against their religious beliefs, and blah blah baby killers blah etc. I obviously disagree with that completely but that sounds like totally legitimate political speech (that skews against the company's stated liberal tendency) and the Mrs. didn't give me any impression that any action was taken. Which seems right.


Posted by: James Buchanan | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 5:05 AM
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Polite discourse restricts itself to the consideration of racks at a population level.

We had a training. I don't think we're supposed to even do that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 6:07 AM
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I should probably remember this kind of stuff and not make fun of the training next time I have to take it. But, I won't.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 6:12 AM
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I'm glad he got fired, and I don't think people have the right to express all their opinions on the job, but I'd like to push back on the claim that only governments can censor. If google decided to read your emails and delete ones with certain words that would certainly be censorship, whether a government was involved or not. I also think corporations increasing inclination to police people's private non-job communication (e.g. firing people for their private tweets) is censorship. Big corporations have government-like powers. None of that is relevant here, obviously you can and should be able to fire employees for what they say on the job to other employees, and that's not "censorship."


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 6:12 AM
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And yet the same libertarian dudebros argue that companies should also be able to pollute / sell poisonous food / market exploding cars or whatever, and the market will correct for it when people vote with their dollars. They should stop complaining and I wish them luck in their upcoming Google boycott.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 6:20 AM
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Speaking of Google, gmail has been really slow for me lately.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 6:50 AM
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And unpredictably fails to send notifications to my phone.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 6:57 AM
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That is, notifications for my emails, not Moby's.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 6:58 AM
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Maciej Cieglowski has the best take: https://twitter.com/Pinboard/status/894745564796956672


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 7:13 AM
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This is tangentially related to this google dude, but, I am a woman who is getting a PhD in a social science. I know a ton about other people, studying them academically has been like, my job for 10+ years. I also have a background in a STEM science. I really fucking hate how conservative racists like to pretend like liberals (i.e. women, POCs, queers, Muslims/Jews, "manginas"*) are illogical, stupid, overemotional and "can't handle the truth," and then when you're like, um no actually SCIENCE proves you're wrong, they're like, NO NO I CAN'T UNDERSTAND MY BRAIN HURTS THERE'S NO REALITY ONLY OPINIONS YOU THINK YOUR WAY AND I THINK MINE OMG I FEEL LIKE YOU'RE OPPRESSING ME HELP GO AWAY I'M SCARED!!!!!!!

Like, I know I should be used to it by now, but every time the bad faith still manages to get under my skin.


*the standard alt right term for straight white men who are liberal.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 7:23 AM
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I am deeply grateful for that footnote in 206.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 7:26 AM
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297

I guess they're the liberal counterpart to "cuckservatives"


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 7:28 AM
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Yes. Anyway, there's no percentage in not blowing up at stuff like this because being polite is evidence that you're weak or that you really agree with them but are too intimidated to say it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 7:30 AM
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I do not feel the Cieglowski magic. So this is the best take, because it's funny, and also contains the essential truth that posting something like this on the company message board is the firing offense.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 7:33 AM
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From way back in 124:

Summers was punished for challenging the patriarchy.

This seems like a potentially entertaining tangent that was regrettably dropped after insufficient mockery. The Google douchebag's argument was predictable, but this is genuinely something new under the sun. I'm trying to imagine the mental gymnastics you have to execute to stick the landing in this particular spot.

Here's my guess: Harvard consciously prefers policies that suppress women, just like Google (per Benquo in 55, 56, 67 et seq). So Harvard (like Google) adopts solutions that are designed to fail through their failure to recognize the tendency for women to be unable to perform certain tasks, such as (in Harvard's case) elite-level mathematics.

By encouraging women to overcome social biases* against advancement in academia, Harvard is actually encouraging them to run into the limits imposed by their biology, thus impelling women to get their Math PhDs, only to end up driving Ubers because they can't handle the high-level math in the actual academic world.

So Summers is really protecting women, who would otherwise be shunted into unrewarding careers by the patriarchy.

How is that? Anybody got anything better?

*We acknowledge that such biases exist, of course, because like Googledouche, we aren't sexist barbarians. We just think that no action is desirable to remedy those biases.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 7:34 AM
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201: And bomb threats.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 7:41 AM
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Harvard is a patriarchy officially committed to full equality of sexes and genders. Summers challenged the orthodoxy and was punished for it. What I lose in entertainment value I make up in points for elegance.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 7:41 AM
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The patriarchy hurts men too, but not enough of them if you ask me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 7:44 AM
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Amen, Sister Moby!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 7:49 AM
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It occurs to me that Summers made his remarks during the height of the era when economists were being invited to pose as all-purpose "experts" on every subject under the sun.

So with his "I'm in a room full of people who have studied this subject for years and I only started thinking about it 5 minutes ago...but I'm a smart guy so let me wow everyone with my bold speculations on the matter..." schtick, he was being a quintessential economist.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 7:53 AM
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"I'm in a room full of people who have studied this subject for years and I only started thinking about it 5 minutes ago...but I'm a smart guy so let me wow everyone with my bold speculations on the matter..." schtick, he was being a quintessential economist.

Nah, economists just had that schtick on loan from physicists.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 8:08 AM
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You can get fired if your boss does not like who you vote for. there really should be an expansion of speech rights in the workplace.


Posted by: Lemme caution | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 8:19 AM
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I had a theory as to what Benquo meant about that patriarchy thing, but it seemed like a distraction from the actual discussion.

As I recall Summers' remarks, they could be summarized as "Women are less successful in academia for three reasons: (1) most importantly, they make life choices that screw them over like; (2) they're just not as good at this stuff at the highest level; and (3) there's some discrimination." If your response to that is "See, he said the most important thing holding women back is their life choices, which means it's all about patriarchy," and ignore that he kept lack of innate ability at the highest end on his list above bias, that would, I think, get you to what Benquo was saying.

But I'm not sure that that was what Benquo meant, and if it was what he meant it would have been idiotic.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 8:20 AM
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218: Welcome. But your pseud is too similar to one somebody else uses.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 8:21 AM
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Wry Cooter is still available.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 8:25 AM
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Debating over whether something is lexically censorship seems extremely unproductive.

I would hope we can agree that there is a spectrum of employer actions, with "firing for not attending a political rally / not contributing to a favored candidate" on one end and "firing for posting pseudonymously outside work hours on an eclectic web magazine" on the other, and some portion of that spectrum of employer action should ideally be forbidden by law whether or not it's censorship; how much and whether this Google action falls in that category is the real question.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 8:33 AM
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I can be fired for anything that isn't a protected discrimination thing. At least that's what they said.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 8:34 AM
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Out of curiosity on the lexical side, I looked at the OED for "censorship", which was unhelpful, but on the plus side, I learned that Pennsylvania from 1776 to 1790 and Vermont from 1777 to 1869 had a Council of Censors, its mission to "enquire whether the legislative and executive branches of government have performed their duty as guardians of the people; or assumed to themselves, or exercised, other or greater powers than they are entitled to by the constitution."


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 8:35 AM
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I think the actual content of Googledouche's* missive is interesting in ways we haven't discussed, partly because even his defenders aren't actually willing to defend it.

Although Googledouche acknowledged social bias, I believed that he rejected any solution that addresses that bias, and was willing to consider only solutions that mitigate women's innate shortcomings. I was wrong! Lookie here:

Feminism has made great progress in freeing women from the female gender role, but men are still very much tied to the male gender role. If we, as a society, allow men to be more "feminine," then the gender gap will shrink ...

It's men who are the real victims here.

*I am indebted to Mossy in 172 for that construction.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 8:52 AM
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what does it say about us that there isn't a clean text availalbe - in the gizmodo version, it is hard to tell what is from the author and what is added by gizmodo
(I have already, tachyon like, read your snark about how I don't understand webformatting)


Posted by: ezra abrams | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 9:04 AM
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Looks like Vice's Motherboard has a pretty good-looking copy. The process they describe for putting it together explains why other copies don't look so good.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 9:15 AM
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226: It tells you about the process by which is leaked, and also that Google Docs don't translate well to other contexts (e.g. you aren't going to get the inline discussion it provoked, which was also seen by everyone who saw the original). IIRC everything in the Gizmodo version was him, although they mucked a little with the formatting. Fortunately, there is a better presentation of the original here.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 9:15 AM
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With great context comes great pwnage.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 9:17 AM
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Semi-related to 225: can we do Unfogged reading groups for essays? This one would be an interesting discussion:

http://www.policy.hu/takacs/courses/matters/FRASER_AfterTheFamilyWage.pdf

What new, postindustrial gender order should replace the family wage? And what sort of welfare state can best support such a new gender order? What account of
gender equity best captures our highest aspirations? And what vision of social welfare comes closest to embodying it?

Two different sorts of answers are currently conceivable, I think, both of which quality as feminist. The first I call the Universal Breadwinner model. It is the vision implicit in the current political practice of most U.S. feminists and liberals. It aims to foster gender equity by promoting women's employment; the centerpiece of this model is state provision of employment-enabling services such as day care. The second possible answer I call the Caregiver Parity model. It is the vision implicit in the current political practice of most Westem European feminists and social democrats. It aims to promote gender equity chiefly by supporting informal carework; the centerpiece of this model is state provision of caregiver allowances.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 9:22 AM
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The relation of 230 is to 225 is really only apparent when you get to her conclusion, I realize.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 9:24 AM
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would hope we can agree that there is a spectrum of employer actions, with "firing for not attending a political rally / not contributing to a favored candidate" on one end and "firing for posting pseudonymously outside work hours on an eclectic web magazine" on the other

These don't seem like two ends of a spectrum to me, and if it is a spectrum, I'm not sure the Googledouche's actions fit on it, being a disciplinary response to public-and-addressed-to-other-employees communication, as opposed to private, non-company-related behaviour.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 9:37 AM
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Yes. 232 is right.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 9:38 AM
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230: Yes please!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 9:38 AM
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230: Speaking for myself alone, I can no longer bear to have conversations about the policy choices that could be made in an intelligent United States. I'm too depressed about the actual United States.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 9:52 AM
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216: a variant of engineer's disease?


Posted by: Frostbite | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 9:56 AM
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The clap?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 10:12 AM
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232: Oops, yes, I constructed that wrong. Laws should protect against firing for either of those things; the other end of the spectrum would be firing someone for assembling a project team on a "no-cuck" basis or something.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 10:13 AM
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The ev-psych explanation for why there are so few male programmers.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 10:35 AM
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Kevin Drum thinks there's something odd about the original memo.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 10:40 AM
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240: he's still living in the pre-Trump era. Lucky man.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 10:44 AM
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It's as though he's never heard of Poe's Law.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 11:03 AM
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Since when is "I'm trying to be a martyr for my stupid beliefs" not authentic?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 11:06 AM
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240: I don't think you need to go meta to understand why he wrote the memo. He concentrated on biology because his academic training is in systems biology, and there's a subset of people in genetics, evo psych, and physical anthropology (Pinker etc.) who think innate gender differences in cognition are real and political correctness is keeping us from discussing and investigating them honestly.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 11:25 AM
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214 is now my Twitter profile.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 11:28 AM
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When people quote statistics about *representation* as their go-to evidence of discrimination, this suggests via Gricean implication that this is the best evidence they have.

HOT TAKE COMING THROUGH: When someone uses the phrase "Gricean implication", this suggests by Gricean natural meaning that they don't know what they're talking about. (The term is "implicature".) There is nothing Gricean about your inference, which is independently ridiculous. It's also unrelated, really, to your following (completely correct!) claim:

and it's easy to find cases where women and men are present in equal numbers and sexism is still a problem.

Of course, sexism can be a problem in many ways, not merely because it leads to unequal representation, or unequal outcomes along any given pre-selected set of measures (unequal salaries, or unequal happiness across times, or whatever). But it's plausible enough, innit, that the problems that manifest even when numbers are more or less equal also manifest, indeed are probably worse, when they are not, and the numbers thing really is compact in the sense of being quickly conveyable, and hard to argue with (you could argue etiology, and boy do people, but not the actual numbers so easily), and a nice easy summary view of things. It might be your go-to initial sally because it's dialectically simple and compelling, and less work to get across to people who aren't already on your side than a subtler point about insidious psychological effects or whatever. Arguments and evidence are deployed in conversation for a variety of purposes and in a variety of contexts, and just putting the abstractly considered "best" evidence forth is rarely the strategy of a halfway canny argument. (And, again, the fact that sexism is manifests itself even in situations of equal representation does not make unequal representation worse evidence for the existence or badness of sexism.)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 11:47 AM
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Censorship is government exerting control over what you can say … That is a specific word with specific meaning.

HOT TAKE COMING THROUGH: this is a ridiculous opinion, apparently metastasized from the perfectly correct position that the first amendment to the constitution pertains only to government censorship, which has no basis in any definition that I could find in five minutes of searching. (Wikipedia comes right out in the second paragraph of its article to say "Governments, private organizations and individuals may engage in censorship.")


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 11:53 AM
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I'd like to try censoring things. Is there a good place to start?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 11:59 AM
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Good censership is about not spilling the incense.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 12:03 PM
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boys do better on the math SAT (outnumbering girls by 1.60-to-1 for test scores in the 700-800 points range in 2016) than girls but are underrepresented in honors and AP math and science classes and get worse grades.

http://www.aei.org/publication/2016-sat-test-results-confirm-pattern-thats-persisted-for-45-years-high-school-boys-are-better-at-math-than-girls/

The under-representation and grade thing is pretty new so who knows how this whole thing is going to shake out. Is the under-representation of women in STEM going to fall like it did in high school or is there something real in the high end math SAT statistics that will prevent that.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 1:08 PM
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This is pure 'seems to me', but I'd be shocked if differences in SAT scores meant anything about math abilities. I'm a standardized test freak, and it's not about the subject matter knowledge beyond a not-that-impressive level, it's about how you react to stress and how well you empathize with test designers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 1:11 PM
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https://thejournal.com/articles/2017/03/09/gpa-versus-exam-scores.aspx


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 1:31 PM
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If the proctors knew how many of the kids were actually turned on, they'd be creeped out.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 1:31 PM
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250: The standard justification for standardized tests is that they correlate with performance in school -- that is, performance in the real world. It's interesting that the American Enterprise Institute is using tests to prove that performance in the real world is disproved by standardized tests.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 1:43 PM
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251

there definitely is a "do well on multiple choice test" skill.

There is basically no difference between girls and boys on the verbal section though.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 2:05 PM
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Girls:Boys::Females:_________


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 2:09 PM
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Sorry to digress from an entertaining discussion about the latest follies of a Silicon Valley bro, but I would like to point out that Summers was not fired simply for his sexism, but also for his protection of someone involved in defrauding the Russian and American governments


http://www.institutionalinvestor.com/Article/1020662/How-Harvard-lost-Russia.html#.WYpIktEpChA

and tor faculty response to this before the vote that removed him:

http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2006/2/10/tawdry-shleifer-affair-stokes-faculty-anger/



Posted by: ukeen why | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 4:26 PM
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230: I would be interested.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 5:25 PM
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And yet, that very link shows that the gap between males and females on the SAT math closed from 40 points to 30 points, starting around 1994. And that racial differences are much larger than gender differences, such that Asian females have a 40 point lead on white males.

Also interesting, there are also a 30 point gaps between those who make more than $200k and those who make $140-200k and again between $140-200k and $80-100k. At the low end, halving your income results in a 30 point drop in mean. Is that due to natural abilities too?

Also, they have some sampling problems in the conclusions they're trying to draw (pointed out in the rebuttal). All the data points that say girls are over-represented (55-45 in almost all cases) are misleading because they are also over-represented in the sample actually taking the SAT (53-47), and it's hard to say how that affects the actual average SAT scores. One could hypothesize that when more people take the exam, the average score drops, which could be partially responsible for the gap. The higher GPA among girls is a pretty solid data point, though.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 6:24 PM
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||
For everyone eagerly anticipating the Trump impeachment, take alook at your future.
|>


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 6:44 PM
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230: Yes.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 6:54 PM
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This is great, the author of that Google memo claimed a PhD he does not have.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 7:21 PM
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OT: The governor of West Virginia, the day after switching parties, is asking for a $15/ton subsidy on Appalachian coal. Which I guess explains the switch if pure shitheadedness didn't.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 7:22 PM
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262: That is great. He'll fit in perfectly at Freedom House or where ever he lands.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 7:27 PM
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262: Nice catch! He sounds like the ideal candidate for an "unaccountably aggrieved, and therefore contrarian" position as a know-nothing pundit at a libertarian think tank.

(I still refuse to celebrate the fact that he was fired, mind you. I guess I just can't get behind corporate power, even when its boots are on the neck of a google d-bag whose ideas and utterances I find absolutely loathsome).


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 8:12 PM
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I don't get the argument against his firing, unless you're thinking that he was fired purely for unpopular political speech. But this was a case of advertising his skepticism about the abilities of some proportion of his co-workers based on their sex. How could he be on a team after that?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 8:37 PM
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Also, Drum's reading, which I thought too cynical, looks a lot more plausible now that we know Damore isn't exactly scupulous with the truth.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 8:38 PM
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I don't get the argument against his firing,

Because people might be fired for expressing ideas with which we concur, in which case, "Yeah, of course he was fired! and justifiably so. He pissed off the bosses at corporate headquarters" might not seem so congenial a reason/justification?


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 9:06 PM
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I still refuse to celebrate the fact that he was fired, mind you.

HE WILL BE FINE. He will have to decide between ideological crusading and, you know, a more interesting and innovative job, but I'm sure his options in both cases are plentiful. This is not like the woman fired over the dongle incident, whose name I have forgotten and probably shouldn't include here anyway given the reputational/search engine pessimization hit she took. (What about Larry Summers being fired? Tell me you didn't shake your head sadly over that one.)

Google's public statement on the matter is pretty clear about separating the harmful parts of the memo from the valuable ones, and admirably notes that the chilling effect of publicly firing this guy is also a bad thing and needs to be dealt with openly. I'm not sure what disciplinary actions you think would be more honorable.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 9:33 PM
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Destroying the world in a ball of fire. But maybe that's just me.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 9:42 PM
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(I mean, what are the odds of Peter Thiel personally offering this guy a plum job within 24 hours? Surely the guy could get hired at Palantir tomorrow. He is going to be fine.)


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 9:44 PM
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Oh, so you're the agent provocateur trying to start WW3 this week, Mossy? I might have guessed.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 9:46 PM
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I do that every week. It's not a secret or anything.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 9:49 PM
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271: Assange got there first.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 9:52 PM
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Holy shit. Well, if that's the best offer...


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 9:57 PM
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I'm sure Thiel can match it. Maybe it'll end up as a bidding war.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 9:58 PM
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HE WILL BE FINE..

Yeah, I know he will be fine. And I realize that, outrageously and maddeningly, he will probably end up coming out ahead.

But I'm still worried about employees who express unorthodox and unpopular opinions on race, sexuality, gender -- counter-normative opinions, say, the circulation of which we might want to encourage and support. What's our position, then, when said employees are fired for failing to support the bland, feel-good but content-less, directives coming from corporate? That they deserved to be fired because they ruffled the wrong feathers?

The norms of the American workplace are already so heavily stacked in favour of the whims and demands of the stockholder capitalists, I just can't feel good about an incident where an individual is fired because they feel compelled to make an example of him (while carrying on business as usual, basically) because of the negative publicity.

Again, not defending the google bro at all, not asking for even the slightest indulgence for his manifest d-baggery. I don't like that he was fired, though; and I don't think such firings will ultimately tend to support the lefty/liberal/progressive side of the equation at all.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 08- 8-17 10:24 PM
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What's our position, then, when said employees are fired for failing to support the bland, feel-good but content-less, directives coming from corporate? That they deserved to be fired because they ruffled the wrong feathers?

I don't know about you, but my position on unpopular speech depends on the content of that speech (First Amendment protections mostly don't, but I am neither the Constitution nor am I a governmental authority). "Segregation is barbaric and should come to an end" would have been an unpopular opinion to express in the South in the fifties. "Jews can't be trusted because they conspire with each other to cheat Gentiles" would be an unpopular opinion to express now. I don't think consistency requires me to feel the same way about a person getting fired for expressing each of those opinions.

Workplace protections are a different issue. It'd be great if generally people could only be fired for cause. But I don't think free speech absolutism is where that has to start.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 3:56 AM
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We have a professor of medieval history who has openly come out as a white nationalist. She has a blog where she writes love letters to Milo Yiannopoulos and talks about how white culture is under threat from the swarthy menace, etc. She and her blog have gotten a bit of attention since Trump's election. She's been shunted to the side by the department, but her grad students (medievalists who are not white supremacists) are now totally radioactive. They're devastated that 7-8 years are down the drain and they'll have to leave academia. Anyways, she has tenure, so she's not going to get fired for writing white supremacist screeds, even though no one wants her to teach, publish, or mentor students.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 4:14 AM
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Won't somebody think of the white male Ivy League graduates? They've suffered at work long enough.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 4:14 AM
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279: They should try philosophy. I hear Heidegger 's graduate students did well.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 4:24 AM
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281

Maybe they can get hired at Trump U.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 4:33 AM
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Or Liberty.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 4:35 AM
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Actually, "I was discriminated against by liberal academia because my advisor was a white supremacist nut" seems like hitting jackpot in the wingnut welfare market. I suppose we other grad students should be jealous we don't have such an instantly lucrative job opportunity.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 4:38 AM
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her grad students (medievalists who are not white supremacists) are now totally radioactive.

That seems to speak poorly of the rest of the field. I'm assuming that the students were as unaware as everyone else of their adviser's nuttiness until recently.

As for google-guy, I'm generally opposed to social media storms getting people fired, and if he had been ranting on his personal blog and been fired for it, I'd be against it (because, you know, inviting employers to regulate your personal life outside of work...how social justice-y!). But broadcasting it over the company message board is a bit different.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 4:55 AM
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He would've been fired even if it stayed internal for the hostile environment it produced.

Anyway, it's continued to make Mrs. Buchanan's work life very stressful. There is a benefit to openly knowing who is actively sexist, but there is a pain to it, too.


Posted by: James Buchanan | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 7:01 AM
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Had a discussion this morning where someone talked about working with a softeng who had no understanding of what other people actually wanted, would make something exactly to a certain spec but never realized when he should seek feedback or tweak it because what the users actually wanted wasn't what he was making. I'm sure he considered himself an excellent coder but everyone hated working with him.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 7:13 AM
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278
I don't know about you, but my position on unpopular speech depends on the content of that speech (First Amendment protections mostly don't, but I am neither the Constitution nor am I a governmental authority)... Workplace protections are a different issue. It'd be great if generally people could only be fired for cause. But I don't think free speech absolutism is where that has to start.

I agree with this, and would also note that this guy's firing basically was for cause. He wrote a 10-page screed that was as trollish as you can get without resorting to four-letter words or calls for ethnic cleansing. Drum's right, the memo is off-kilter. It looks like the kind of thing you'd find at RedState 10 years ago. He complained about people having empathy. It's so Randian it would be out of place in any workplace other than a rightwing PAC. And yet, taken individually, most of his demands are relatively modest and reasonable(1), and he pays lip service to diversity and political balance. The modern right would call him "cuck" for that. He ends with a list of "concrete suggestions," and I guess they might mean more within Google, but to me, eight or nine of them aren't concrete.

I don't think he was consciously fishing to get fired and get on wingnut welfare. But this is offensive to women, minorities, liberals, and apolitical types, and doesn't go nearly far enough for modern conservatives - there's something in it to hate for almost everyone. At the very least, that demonstrates bad communication skills, which is relevant to performing many jobs.

I'm pretty sure that if someone got fired for writing a 10-page screed like this arguing that the white men in their office probably weren't qualified, I'd be a tiny bit worried and pissed off just because they're on my team, but I'd have to admit they probably aren't good at their job.

(1) As a whole, it's pure wingnuttery. But of his 10 "concrete suggestions," only two or three are objectionable on the face of them; most of them would be neutral or good in another context or with no context.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 7:35 AM
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287: I wish my field didn't attract such misanthropes. People make code for people. The name for something that makes code for non-people is "compiler," and I can download those for free.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 7:44 AM
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just getting around to reading this now and all I can say is WTF. also, hi tweety and blume and other infrequent commenters!


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 8:57 AM
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Oh, al, you should read "The Traitor Baru Cormorant" too. I was singing its praises in the other thread.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 9:00 AM
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I don't know if she originated the term, but I heard the Motherboard writer who broke the story calling it a "manifestbro," which is pretty good.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 9:09 AM
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277: I understand your point but I am truly curious about what alternative you envision. What would be a more suitable response? No discipline at all? The company hosting a formal debate? Forcing the guy to sit in the Google cafeteria at lunchtime for two months watching everyone else eat while on a daily ration of unsalted tofu chips and Tang?


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 9:13 AM
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Forcing the guy to sit in the Google cafeteria at lunchtime for two months watching everyone else eat while on a daily ration of unsalted tofu chips and Tang?

Has possibilities.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 9:22 AM
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293 many European countries and union contracts require good cause for firings and have some sort of appeal procedure


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 9:23 AM
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287: that seems like a process problem as well. The one thing agile gets right is ritualizing user (or user proxy) feedback into iteration planning and continuous spec design.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 9:27 AM
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Note that even before being fired, Damore had filed a complaint with the NLRB, presumably about Google's discriminatory conduct against men. He asserts that he is the victim of illegal retaliation. Google defends itself on that charge by saying it didn't know he had filed the complaint.

I, too, thought Drum was being excessively conspiratorial, but it really does look like Damore was planning to be a maximal pain in the ass about this. His martyrdom looks like a deliberate plan.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 9:31 AM
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And tons of sympathy to Mrs. Buchanan. A close friend who works there told me she was distressed about something a couple of days ago, and I really hope it wasn't this, because I'm inclined to think her contributions as an engineer and employee are worth about 1000x as much as this guy's.

her grad students (medievalists who are not white supremacists) are now totally radioactive.

I wish my immediate response were not "how could they tell?", but... Honestly, given everything you've seen and reported, Buttercup, I'm amazed that you're sticking it out in academia, and I admire your tenacity.

295: still not an answer! Maybe the implicit answer is "some form of mediation," and maybe that would be more constructive. I don't know if it's ever been tried in a context like this.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 9:33 AM
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(298.last is me being most maximally charitable like a good girl. Actual beliefs are... different.)


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 9:43 AM
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298

I don't know what would happen in this case. I just know that there is some way to appeal firing in some contexts and it is something labor tries to get when it has power and it would probably be good to have that in the US.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 10:01 AM
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I, too, thought Drum was being excessively conspiratorial, but it really does look like Damore was planning to be a maximal pain in the ass about this. His martyrdom looks like a deliberate plan.

He certainly seems happy to have his name attached to the story and to welcome the publicity.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 10:04 AM
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295: OK, an appeal process would have drawn things out. He would have got paychecks for a few more weeks and Google would have had the time to come up with better press releases about this. But there is cause for firing, so how would the result have been different?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 10:04 AM
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297: It also says that his filing was on Monday. Seems like he filed that in anticipation of being fired once he realized the likely reaction to the memo.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 10:09 AM
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285/298

The students might just be overly alarmist about their prospects, though in general you're not going to get anything without an LOR from your advisor, so having a toxic advisor can really screw you over.

But yeah, I'm sort of getting more demoralized by academia by the month. Depression and laziness (or more like not enough impetus and too much inertia) are not helping. I sort of feel like every year I survive another round (a fellowship here, a prestigious-ish campus job there), but nothing that really cements me in a career (i.e. a TT job). In other words, I'm really great at treading water, but even a gold medal in treading water means you're just...treading water. I'm going more seriously on the job market this year, and I've sort of told myself this will be make or break.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 10:13 AM
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Because people might be fired for expressing ideas with which we concur,

HOT TAKE: this is a shit reason for being opposed. Get this: it's ok to support his firing for expressing substantively harmful ideas, and also to oppose the firing of others for expressing substantively sound ideas.

When you consider the number of things that can plausibly be ranged under the rubric "expression of ideas", the idea that one can't be fired for the expression of an idea gets increasingly silly. Like, here's an "idea" one might "express" to one's coworkers and boss: "Every night I think about how great it would be to sneak into your house and disfigure you and your children while you sleep. I've got some ideas about how to do it, too!"

This is also an idea: "it occurred to me that if you had sex with me, your future at this company might be brighter."

Ideas!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 10:49 AM
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279. Can I ask why the students are radioactive if they are not themselves white supremacists? I may be naive but I had it drummed into me that guilt by association was a bad thing by the time I was 12.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 11:16 AM
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I just know that there is some way to appeal firing in some contexts and it is something labor tries to get when it has power and it would probably be good to have that in the US.

It would be good. All discipline, not just firing, should require "just cause," but most employment in the U.S. is "at will" (also known as "just 'cuz").

The exceptions are:

1. Union contracts that require just cause (and usually progressive discipline). Most violations of the company's code of conduct or similar internal policy are considered just cause for discipline unless there's discriminatory intent or outcome, favoritism by management, etc. The violation usually has to be egregious to get fired for a first offense.

2. Civil service jobs that have an appeals process (sometimes because of a union contract, sometimes by legislation).

3. The military.

4. Tenure.

5. CEOs and other overpriced execs with individual contracts. I've never seen one with an appeals process but some require just cause for firing. I assume the only recourse would be to sue for breach of contract.

6. Maybe a handful of companies with some kind of half-assed internal appeals process through the HR department? Could be.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 11:35 AM
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306

there is a surplus of grad students looking for a jobs so any reason not to hire is good enough


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 11:36 AM
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291: thanks ajay I saw that; will do when I finish 1Q84 which you should read. also everyone should read it.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 12:09 PM
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The Mindy Project S1E2 has excellent coverage of hiring dynamics. Neither of the two members of the interview committee want to be there. Both are more interested in bickering with each other and rejecting candidates that appeal too much to the other one than in harmonizing.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 12:33 PM
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What 308 and 310 said. When there are 1,000 candidates for any job, any reason for rejection becomes a good one.

But more fundamentally, it's not guilt by association so much as academia is a patronage system. If your patron is a complete pariah and completely batshit, then you're basically screwed.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 08- 9-17 12:42 PM
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Still thinking of Mrs. Buchanan (and my friends) in the midst of this epic shitshow. It really has been next-level backlash lately. How is she holding up?


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08-11-17 11:25 AM
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Derauqsd on topic.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-12-17 4:21 AM
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Just out of curiosity, a quest - What are the best degree programs where you could get in to an academic job, but if it doesn't work out you can go in to think tanks or industry and still use your skills?

I mean a chemist can always go into industry (not always, Pharma hiring is cyclical, but basically, there's are industries that want their skills). I look at MD, Ph.Ds and if the academic portion doesn't work out, they can always just put up a shingle. But a lot of doctors seem burnt out, so I'm not sure how great that is. Thoughts?

If I were younger I think I would have tried to pick one of those.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08-12-17 4:40 AM
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I recommend dropping out of a poli sci program without a plan.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-17 5:56 AM
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I don't recommend dropping out of phil program without a plan.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-12-17 6:05 AM
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316: What I mean is, a program where you get the degree and that degree is in demand in both academia and the private sector. A medical researcher can always practice medicine. There are economist jobs outside of universities etc., e.g. in government


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08-12-17 8:13 AM
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I know and was joking. A couple of years after I started college my university introduced a Philosophy, Politics and Economics degree that I totally would have signed up for and maybe would have left me with marketable skills. But probably I would have fucked that up too.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-12-17 8:55 AM
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Once upon a time a higher degree in maths would have opened up the possibility of becoming a quant aiding and abetting various vampire squid in their efforts to destroy the world economy.


Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 08-12-17 9:11 AM
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314/317: My favorite is PharmD/PhD. Typically, programs are set up so you complete (!) the PharmD prior to the PhD part, so there are lots of offramps that lead to stable, high paying jobs.

Engineering of most sorts is a pretty safe bet to leave academis, but longer program.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 08-12-17 9:16 AM
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