Can we have both equality and diversity?

About the infamous Google Memo… Here is a review of reactions to the controversial piece.

Facts:

  • A Google engineer, James Damore, wrote a memo entitled Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber. [Read original]
  • It went viral via internal communication means within Google.
  • He got fired because of it.
  • (A less relevant, but curious fact: Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks who is holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, offered him a job and accused Google of censorship.)

Here are some interesting articles from both sides:

The Economist (sits on the fence)

“This isn’t a question of legality or policy. This is a question of virtue-signalling” [Read]

Bloomberg (argues it was wrong for Google to foreclose the debate so crudely)

“An employee trying to grapple with these problems — clumsily but earnestly — has now been shown the door, thanks mostly to performative online outrage.” [Read]

The Financial Times (denounces the author)

“Responding to the memo is somewhat challenging because it is almost pure drivel, offering up a mix of fallacies, mindless reductions of popular social science and hand-waving at ‘research.'” [Read]

The Atlantic (addressing the error-full coverage of the matter)

“To object to a means of achieving x is not to be anti-x.” [Read]

The Atlantic, again (agrees memo is discriminatory)

“The memo… seemed to dash hopes that much progress has been made in unraveling the systemic conditions that produce and perpetuate inequity in the technology industry. “[Read]

Slate (is pretty enraged)

“The manifesto suggests a culture that is inviting enough for someone who views some of his fellow employees as lesser to share his opinions and be cheered on” [Read]

Business Insider (highlights authors vulnerable legal position in the context of free speech)

The First Amendment to the US Constitution prevents the government from restricting your speech. It doesn’t restrict your employer from controlling your speech when you are at work, citing a Google manager: “freedom of speech is the right to freely express an opinion. It is most assuredly not the right to express an opinion with freedom from the consequences.”

Quillette (has four psychologists sustain points made my memo author)

“Psychological interchangeability makes diversity meaningless. But psychological differences make equal outcomes impossible. Equality or diversity. You can’t have both.” [Read]

Right-wing Twitter is rallying to support the author of the memo:

Google memo right wing twitter commentary

A Linked influencer, Adam Grant (argues that differences between men and women are exaggerated)

“Across 128 domains of the mind and behavior, “78% of gender differences are small or close to zero.” A recent addition to that list is leadership, where men feel more confident but women are rated as more competent.” [Read]

Scott Alexander of Slate Star Codex (refutes Grant’s points)

“Suppose I wanted to convince you that men and women had physically identical bodies. I run studies on things like number of arms, number of kidneys, size of the pancreas, caliber of the aorta, whether the brain is in the head or the chest, et cetera. 90% of these come back identical – in fact, the only ones that don’t are a few outliers like “breast size” or “number of penises”. I conclude that men and women are mostly physically similar. I can even make a statistic like “men and women are physically the same in 78% of traits”.”

Something that occurred to me that I haven’t seen anywhere – and this neither disproves not confirms the memo author’s argument, but it’s something that I feel is important.

Assuming that average men and average women are different in their precise cognitive and emotional strengths, this bears very little significance when it comes to outliers. For its tech roles Google hires from the very top, i.e. from the extreme “end” of the right tail. Outlier men and outlier women don’t behave the same way as average men and women. In fact, outliers are virtually impossible to study with the same confidence that we study average people.

Very curious what you think.

And let’s keep the mood light 🙂

UPD: somebody invited me to Google image “white man and white woman” and “European people history”. What Google shows is below.

Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 12.58.28Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 12.58.46

One more point of information: Duck Duck Go search results are virtually the same. Make of it what you will.

UPD 2: Jordan Peterson, who himself was nearly kicked out of Google’s YouTube recently, interviews James Damore [Video]

Why Christ was a carpenter

The wonderful Pink Agendist recently introduced Jordan Peterson by quoting this:

“Haven’t heard of Jordan Peterson?

Take one part Carl Jung, one part Solzhenitsyn, one part Kermit the Frog, and one part St. Augustine. Put all this in a conceptual blender”.

While I don’t particularly like any of those ingredients, just like a Negroni, Peterson turned out to be more than the sum of his parts and just fabulous in small quantities.

He is quite right-wing compared to what I am used to. He explains the plight of young women and why they don’t “move up the corporate ladder” extremely well here. He made an interesting point: that status is more important for men compared to women because it’s the main criterion on which women judge men. This almost certainly applies in many animal societies where the winner takes all, but I am not so sure it applies with us. I think that when it comes to forming serious relationships, men require a woman to have a CV comparable to theirs, a family background comparable to theirs, etc. A man’s infatuation is unlikely to override these more prosaic factors. Herein probably also lies the real answer to “why he lost interest”: his interest was in a woman’s superficial qualities and burnt out pretty quickly as it should, while her underlying “status” wasn’t attractive enough to sustain more long-term interest. It’s less psychopathic than it sounds as it is simply based on common interests.

His advice for hyper-intellectual people is refreshing. He explains how you can be utterly unwise and even useless with an IQ of 160. It’s good for the ubereducated millenial to listen to this in a world where intelligence is pretty glorified. Peterson’s ideas are very reminiscent of Taleb’s “intellectual yet idiot”, “skin in the game” stuff.

Peterson takes a literary critic type approach to the Bible. He says that Jesus Christ was a carpenter because there is a certain honesty in a carpenter’s work: it falls down if it isn’t made well, so there is less BS-vending and more doing. Furthermore, Jesus has moral superiority without having a Ph.D. and a New York Times best-seller, so the lesson is that you don’t have to be “intelligent” to be effective.

His book, Maps of Meaning, seems to be of interest. Here is the PDF available free via his website (nice touch). Any reviews? To me, he sounds like a dilettante, albeit with a professor title. I suppose if you are popularising stuff, it’s hard to sound any different.

Some of Peterson’s videos though reek of the usual quasi-scientific verging on self-helpy aspects of psychology (one of his books is called 12 Rules for Life. Hmm.) Some of his political views seems to be sensationalist. He’s even been featured on Oprah, but still, interesting presence.

I found his list of recommended books pretty good though:

1. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

2. 1984 – George Orwell

3. Road To Wigan Pier – George Orwell

4. Crime And Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky

5. Demons – Fyodor Dostoevsky

6. Beyond Good And Evil – Friedrich Nietzsche

7. Ordinary Men – Christopher Browning

8. The Painted Bird – Jerzy Kosinski

9. The Rape of Nanking – Iris Chang

10. Gulag Archipelago (Vol. 1Vol. 2, & Vol. 3) – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

11. Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl

12. Modern Man in Search of A Soul – Carl Jung

13. Maps Of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief – Jordan B. Peterson

14. A History of Religious Ideas (Vol. 1Vol. 2Vol. 3) – Mircea Eliade

15. Affective Neuroscience – Jaak Panksepp

How to make your own conspiracy theory

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool
– Richard Feynman

So I was watching Jordan B Peterson‘s video – I will talk about him later. Look at the bottom right corner on YouTube (in full screen):

how to create a conspiracy theory

Looks like it’s straight off a Beutepanzer:

how to come up with a conspiracy theory

Half the plot for the next Da Vinci Code is in the bag: “Sergey Brin is Himmler’s long lost great grandson.”

 

More generally, here are some tips for making conspiracy theories.

You will need:

  • them, who are united by a trait and a
  • common goal, generally an evil one, signified with a
  • symbol, that recurs in all kinds of unexpected places.

If you’re low on inspiration,

  • get 100 of anything that has a variety of traits: banknotes, films, pieces of jewellery, anything
  • single out the traits and you will surely find a recurrent one
  • fit a goal and a type of people on as you see fit.

Never forget that everything

  • happens for a reason
  • has a deeper meaning
  • is all part of a connected universe

If anyone tries to disprove you, don’t worry because it’s impossible to prove you wrong. After all, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence – and evidence is evidence.

On a more serious note, this TED talk on who controls the world the nature of complexity is pretty good. And every once in a while you will be reminded that just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean you’re wrong: Inside VW’s Campaign of Trickery

P.S. Over 1,300 followers on WordPress! So excited to have you guys, thank you.

P.P.S. Are you following this chap? He’s awesome.