Google's Ideological Echo Chamber *Updated*
As you probably saw this morning with a headline along the lines of "Google Anti-Diversity Memo" or something similar, someone at Google wrote a 10-page piece that challenges the status quo regarding the gender gap. The actual title is "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber" and by the backlash regarding its publishing, it is spot on. I highly recommend reading the full ten pages you can find here, but I am going to include some of the most insightful points, including the TL;DR that he provided.
Reply to public response and misrepresentation
I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don't endorse using stereotypes. When addressing the gap in representation in the population, we need to look at population level differences in distributions. If we can't have an honest discussion about this, then we can never truly solve the problem. Psychological safety is built on mutual respect and acceptance, but unfortunately our culture of shaming and misrepresentation is disrespectful and unaccepting of anyone outside its echo chamber. Despite what the public response seems to have been, I've gotten many personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude for bringing up these very important issues which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired. This needs to change.
This is how it starts off, which hits the nail on the head regarding the response it received, and is a testament to how prevalent the ideological echo chamber is in the media as well.
• Google's political bias has equated the freedom from offense with psychological safety, but shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety.
• This silencing has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed.
• The lack of discussion fosters the most extreme and authoritarian elements of this ideology.
• Extreme: all disparities in representation are due to oppression
• Authoritarian: we should discriminate to correct for this oppression
• Differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don't have 50% representation of women in tech and leadership. Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business.
The following are points I think are worth expanding on.
Men's higher drive for status
We always ask why we don't see women in top leadership positions, but we never ask why we see so many men in these jobs. These positions often require long, stressful hours that may not be worth it if you want a balanced and fulfilling life.
Status is the primary metric that men are judged on4, pushing many men into these higher paying, less satisfying jobs for the status that they entail. Note, the same forces that lead men into high pay/high stress jobs in tech and leadership cause men to take undesirable and dangerous jobs like coal mining, garbage collection, and firefighting, and suffer 93% of work-related deaths.
He later gives non-bias explanations for the gender gap, and evolutionary differences between men and women.
I strongly believe in gender and racial diversity, and I think we should strive for more. However, to achieve a more equal gender and race representation, Google has created several discriminatory practices:
• Programs, mentoring, and classes only for people with a certain gender or race 5
• A high priority queue and special treatment for "diversity" candidates
• Hiring practices which can effectively lower the bar for "diversity" candidates by decreasing the false negative rate
• Reconsidering any set of people if it's not "diverse" enough, but not showing that same scrutiny in the reverse direction (clear confirmation bias)
• Setting org level OKRs for increased representation which can incentivize illegal discrimination 
These practices are based on false assumptions generated by our biases and can actually increase race and gender tensions. We're told by senior leadership that what we're doing is both the morally and economically correct thing to do, but without evidence this is just veiled left ideology7 that can irreparably harm Google.
7 Communism promised to be both morally and economically superior to capitalism, but every attempt became morally corrupt and an economic failure. As it became clear that the working class of the liberal democracies wasn't going to overthrow their "capitalist oppressors," the Marxist intellectuals transitioned from class warfare to gender and race politics. The core oppressor-oppressed dynamics remained, but now the oppressor is the "white, straight, cis-gendered patriarchy."
This might be the most important part of his piece, and the scariest part of the whole situation. In many ways, we are in an era of socially-enforced leftist-McCarthyism, which is very very dangerous.
Why we're blind
We all have biases and use motivated reasoning to dismiss ideas that run counter to our internal values. Just as some on the Right deny science that runs counter to the "God > humans > environment" hierarchy (e.g., evolution and climate change) the Left tends to deny science concerning biological differences between people (e.g., IQ and sex differences). Thankfully, climate scientists and evolutionary biologists generally aren't on the right. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of humanities and social scientists learn left (about 95%), which creates enormous confirmation bias, changes what's being studied, and maintains myths like social constructionism and the gender wage gap9. Google's left leaning makes us blind to this bias and uncritical of its results, which we're using to justify highly politicized programs.
In addition to the Left's affinity for those it sees as weak, humans are generally biased towards protecting females. As mentioned before, this likely evolved because males are biologically disposable and because women are generally more cooperative and areeable than men. We have extensive government and Google programs, fields of study, and legal and social norms to protect women, but when a man complains about a gender issue issue [sic] affecting men, he's labelled as a misogynist and whiner10. Nearly every difference between men and women is interpreted as a form of women's oppression. As with many things in life, gender differences are often a case of "grass being greener on the other side"; unfortunately, taxpayer and Google money is spent to water only one side of the lawn.
This has some interesting wording human inclinations on who we protect. It is arguable that programs meant to help only one gender are in fact sexist in themselves because they are inferring them as weaker and needing help.
I hope it's clear that I'm not saying that diversity is bad, that Google or society is 100% fair, that we shouldn't try to correct for existing biases, or that minorities have the same experience of those in the majority. My larger point is that we have an intolerance for ideas and evidence that don't fit a certain ideology. I'm also not saying that we should restrict people to certain gender roles; I'm advocating for quite the opposite: treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism).
My concrete suggestions are to:
• As soon as we start to moralize an issue, we stop thinking about it in terms of costs and benefits, dismiss anyone that disagrees as immoral, and harshly punish those we see as villains to protect the "victims."
Stop alienating conservatives.
• Viewpoint diversity is arguably the most important type of diversity and political orientation is one of the most fundamental and significant ways in which people view things differently.
• In highly progressive environments, conservatives are a minority that feel like they need to stay in the closet to avoid open hostility. We should empower those with different ideologies to be able to express themselves.
• Alienating conservatives is both non-inclusive and generally bad business because conservatives tend to be higher in conscientiousness, which is require for much of the drudgery and maintenance work characteristic of a mature company.
This last point stuck home with me as I am currently starting at a new University in a few weeks in part to how hostile the culture was at my previous institution to those not on the far-left.
Confront Google's biases.
• I've mostly concentrated on how our biases cloud our thinking about diversity and inclusion, but our moral biases are farther reaching than that.
• I would start by breaking down Googlegeist scores by political orientation and personality to give a fuller picture into how our biases are affecting our culture.
Stop restricting programs and classes to certain genders or races.
• These discriminatory practices are both unfair and divisive. Instead focus on some of the non-discriminatory practices I outlined.
Have an open and honest discussion about the costs and benefits of our diversity programs.
• Discriminating just to increase the representation of women in tech is as misguided and biased as mandating increases for women's representation in the homeless, work-related and violent deaths, prisons, and school dropouts.
• There's currently very little transparency into the extend of our diversity programs which keeps it immune to criticism from those outside its ideological echo chamber.
It is funny how susceptible human nature is to overcorrection. Just 20-40 years ago there was an echo chamber of only white guys, which is a problem, and didn't have the openness for diversity. Now we are the opposite end of the spectrum, and now it is structural and intentional.
After stating all of his points, he does recognize where he can be wrong.
2 Of course, I may be biased and only see evidence that supports my viewpoint. In terms of political biases, I consider myself a classical liberal and strongly value individualism and reason. I'd be very happy to discuss any of the document further and provide more citations.
I thought the wording was great, he tried to open a discussion in a space in which he thought there was no room for, was shut down by Google, and misrepresented by multiple media outlets, but then again, I am susceptible to bias as well. One huge point that cannot be understated, is how pervasive the echo chamber is at Google after this getting so much flack. There is certainly a lot to discuss here monkeys, so I will leave you too it.
James Damore, the Google engineer who wrote the note, confirmed his dismissal in an email, saying that he had been fired for "perpetuating gender stereotypes." A Google representative didn't immediately return a request for comment.
Mr. Damore was trying to open discussion, and Google's response is clear: Think like us, or you will be fired.
Above in my post, I mention a phrase which I want to restate and call for more discussion on which no one has mentioned: socially-enforced leftist-McCarthyism. It started in classrooms, now it is in boardrooms, how long until it moves into courtrooms?
Mod Note (Andy): top 50 posts of 2017, this one ranks #43 (based on # of silver bananas)