I’ve been getting two kinds of arguments from the people who support the Google Manifesto creep.
I keep getting told that James Damore loves diversity. It’s the first thing he says in his manifesto.
I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes.
Did you know that Ken Ham loves science?
Answers in Genesis (like other creationist groups) affirms and supports the teaching and use of scientific methodology, and we believe this supports the biblical account of origins.
So does Kent Hovind.
I, for one, love science and the thousands of advancements it has brought us.
I wonder if these people who keep trying to present Damore as some kind of champion of honest assessment of equality and diversity ever bother to think beyond the superficial claim that he makes as an opening gambit to consider what he actually writes? These are the kinds of people who read Lolita and think Humbert Humbert is the hero.
The other line of argumentation is that it is Science. Science is used as the magic incantation; you can’t argue with Science! Unfortunately for them, yes, you can, and in fact argument is central to science — there is not a miraculous science machine that plops out unquestionable Facts somewhere that are then Done and allow no further discussion. Everything in science is a hard-earned interpretation that was built by constant questioning and evaluation by swarms of disagreeable people.
And often science gets it wrong. It’s remarkable how often science has been used as a rationalizing engine for social biases. We have centuries of bad science used to justify slavery, the inferiority of women, the greediness of Jews, the laziness of Africans, the devious cunning of the wicked Oriental, and the shiftless, heritable criminality of the Poor. We have moved on from claiming scientific ‘proof’ of those stereotypes (I wish), but we didn’t get there by deciding that because Galton published something, it must be true.
I actually had someone state that because Debra Soh cited the scientific literature in her awful article, she must be right. It’s hopelessly naive: here’s a contentious subject with a lot of conflicting results in the literature, and mentioning one or a few articles that back up her position means that she “wins”. Never mind that anyone with a broader perspective on the volume of papers knows that, by the testimony of the range of contradictions and special cases, consensus has not been reached on any one detail, and that any difference is likely to be subtle and weak. Do I even need to mention that publishing, especially in fields like psychology, is hopelessly poisoned by the need to find a p value that shows a statistical difference, and that papers that find no significant difference are difficult to publish? Just the fact that differences are so elusive despite all that bias tells you something.
Throughout his memo, Damore linked to many Wikipedia pages as justification for his claims – but neither news media organisations nor scientists accept Wikipedia as a credible source of information, especially when used in policy recommendations.
To back up the “people over things” hypothesis, Damore cited a study published in the journal Social and Personality Psychology Compass in 2010; however, that work never suggests that the gender differences it lists have a proven biological basis.
In fact, the study says the opposite: “Although most biologic scientists accept that sexual selection has led to sex differences in physical traits such as height, musculature, and fat distributions, many social scientists are sceptical about the role of sexual selection in generating psychological gender differences.”
A 2000 review of 10 studies related to gender differences in empathy also suggests men and women don’t have innate differences in this area. The researchers found that such distinctions were only present in situations where the subjects were “aware that they are being evaluated on an empathy-relevant dimension” or in which “empathy-relevant gender-role expectations or obligations are made salient.”
Rather than citing Wikipedia, though, talk to an actual evolutionary biologist, who will tell you that his arguments are “despicable trash” Suzanne Sadedin dissects his manifesto, and summarizes the deep flaws.
Yes, men and women are biologically different — which doesn’t mean what the author thinks it does. The article perniciously misrepresents the nature and significance of known sex differences to advance what appears to be a covert alt-right agenda. More specifically, it:
- argues for biologically determined sex differences in personality based on extremely weak evidence
- completely fails to understand the current state of research on sex differences, which is based in neuroscience, epigenetics and developmental biology
- argues that cognitive sex differences influence performance in software engineering, but presents no supporting evidence. Available evidence does not support the claim.
- fails to acknowledge ways in which sex differences violate the narrative of female inferiority; this shows intellectual dishonesty
- assumes effective meritocracy in its argument, ignoring both a mountain of conflicting scientific literature and its own caveats (which I can only assume were introduced to placate readers, since their incompatibility with the core thesis is never resolved)
- makes repugnant attacks on compassion and empathy
- distorts and misuses moral foundations theory for rhetorical purposes
- contains hints of racism
- paradoxically insists that authoritarianism be treated as a valid moral dimension, whilst firmly rejecting any diversity-motivated strategy that might remotely approach it.
- ultimately advocates rejecting all morality insofar as it might compromise the interests of a group.
There is a lot of good stuff in that article. Honestly, any time anyone brings up the nature/nurture dichotomy as an implicit part of their thesis, you know it’s trash.
His implicit model is that cognitive traits must be either biological (i.e. innate, natural, and unchangeable) or non-biological (i.e., learned by a blank slate). This nature versus nurture dichotomy is completely outdated and nobody in the field takes it seriously. Rather, modern research is based on the much more biologically reasonable view that neurological traits develop over time under the simultaneous influence of epigenetic, genetic and environmental influences. Everything about humans involves both nature and nurture.
I also endorse this criticism and plan.
As mentioned before, this likely evolved because males are biologically disposable and because women are generally more cooperative and agreeable than men.
Talking about males being biologically disposable is nonsense. The mean fitness of males and females is equal; every individual has a father and a mother. What you might mean is that low-status men have historically been used for cannon fodder and other dangerous roles because powerful men regard them as disposable. That’s about sociopolitical structures, not evolution. There’s no reason to think we can’t correct it culturally — our ancestors maintained egalitarian societies in most places for countless millennia, until the invention of farming allowed them to concentrate resources across generations and thus reinvent chimp-like hierarchies. In fact, this correction is a project I think feminism should adopt; I call it destroying the patriarchy.
We shouldn’t even have to make these arguments anymore. Damore has already destroyed his credibility with some ghastly stupid choices after his firing.
Who’s the first person he ran to for an interview? Stefan Fucking Molyneux. Who’s the second? Jordan Goddamn Peterson. It’s an admission that he can only find support among MRAs, racists, and demented ideologues. Weak, dude.