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There foam’d rebellious Logic, gagg’d and bound;
There, stript, fair Rhetoric languish’d on the ground;
His blunted arms by Sophistry are borne,
And shameless Billingsgate her robes adorn,
Morality, by her false guardians drawn,
Chicane in furs, and Casuistry in lawn,
Gasps, as they straiten at each end the cord,
And dies when Dulness gives her Page the word.
A great many people have been outraged this week by the so-called anti-diversity memo “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” written by software engineer James Damore, who has been fired from Google. The work was anonymous, but somehow or other the author was identified, and since in our time the only idol greater than resentment is lucre, Damore has joined an increasing number of people from the worlds of business and academia to be sacrificed at the altar of diversity. In an unsurprising public relations move, Google has succeeded in saving some face by appeasing the partisans of political correctness and of so-called equality. Meanwhile, those who don’t subscribe to the progressive delusion may feel more anxious at the prospect of failing to play the coward’s game correctly. Can one sneeze these days without offending the HR department?
Google CEO Sundar Pichai, in a memo laden with incoherence and hypocrisy, says that
we strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves, and much of what was in that memo is fair to debate, regardless of whether a vast majority of Googlers disagree with it. However, portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace. Our job is to build great products for users that make a difference in their lives. To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK. It is contrary to our basic values and our Code of Conduct, which expects “each Googler to do their utmost to create a workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias and unlawful discrimination.”
The memo has clearly impacted our co-workers, some of whom are hurting and feel judged based on their gender. Our co-workers shouldn’t have to worry that each time they open their mouths to speak in a meeting, they have to prove that they are not like the memo states, being “agreeable” rather than “assertive,” showing a “lower stress tolerance,” or being “neurotic.”
At the same time, there are co-workers who are questioning whether they can safely express their views in the workplace (especially those with a minority viewpoint). They too feel under threat, and that is also not OK. People must feel free to express dissent. So to be clear again, many points raised in the memo—such as the portions criticizing Google’s trainings, questioning the role of ideology in the workplace, and debating whether programs for women and underserved groups are sufficiently open to all—are important topics. The author had a right to express their views on those topics—we encourage an environment in which people can do this and it remains our policy to not take action against anyone for prompting these discussions.
What were those “harmful gender stereotypes,” so “offensive” to the good team members at Google? Let’s take a look at the first paragraph of the memo that has so many people worried about the white patriarchal obstacle that, now as ever, stands cruelly in the progressive path.
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.
Surely no unbiased reader can fail to find Damore’s words eminently reasonable. Though recently fired, the man is no enemy of diversity and inclusion, nor does he say sexism is not a real problem. There is nothing here (or elsewhere in the memo) to suggest he is not fair-minded. Indeed, if you read his memo, you will surely see—so long, again, as you are not biased—that as people go, Damore is exceptionally fair in his perceptions and reasoning, though it is well to remember Emerson’s maxim: “To be great is to be misunderstood.” Damore is concerned to give some nuance to understanding the issues since, after all, it is not prima facie evident that men and women are utterly the same; with the result that, where a corporation’s representation of gender does not wholly reflect the national population, sexism is present by definition. The crucial phrase is “differences in distribution.” Though feminists, progressives and Leftists generally are keen to deny it, men and women are not mere blank slates on which the “unequal” environment imprints its ink; we should not assume as a matter of course that something is awry if the workplace reflects—as it inevitably must—those gender differences which we all seem to notice the moment we leave it.
Neuroscientist Debra W. Soh, writing at Quillette, observes that
within the field of neuroscience, sex differences between women and men—when it comes to brain structure and function and associated differences in personality and occupational preferences—are understood to be true, because the evidence for them (thousands of studies) is strong. This is not information that’s considered controversial or up for debate; if you tried to argue otherwise, or for purely social influences, you’d be laughed at.
Sex researchers recognize that these differences are not inherently supportive of sexism or stratifying opportunities based on sex. It is only because a group of individuals have chosen to interpret them that way, and to subsequently deny the science around them, that we have to have this conversation at a public level. Some of these ideas have been published in neuroscientific journals—despite having faulty study methodology—because they’ve been deemed socially pleasing and “progressive.” As a result, there’s so much misinformation out there now that people genuinely don’t know what to believe.
Also at Quillette, eminent evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller remarks that “almost all of the Google memo’s empirical claims are scientifically accurate. Moreover, they are stated quite carefully and dispassionately. Its key claims about sex differences are especially well-supported by large volumes of research across species, cultures, and history.”
Steven Pinker himself—he of the very solid liberal credentials—has published much rigorous work on natural gender differences, in both intelligence and personality traits. Here he is on YouTube, giving a talk which might be used to support James Damore’s case:
Note, what is so revealing, that Pinker takes care to appease the dogmatic academic crowd via the usual trite and simplistic reduction of human history to patriarchal oppression, lest, like Ibsen’s Dr. Stockmann, he be thought an enemy of the people. It can’t be that man simply found himself in a harsh world in which his superior brute strength was an immense advantage. It can’t be that a severe division of labor was for most of history inevitable for the sexes. Like the Jews, man has always been behind the scenes, conspiring to oppress everyone. Well, at least Pinker was prudent. After all, those aggressive, broad-shouldered feminists have been known to body slam many an hysterically logical speaker.
Like Geoffrey Miller’s, Pinker’s work helps us to see better what ordinary people already know well enough from everyday life (and which, thankfully for them, they feel no need to deny, outside of the increasingly touchy workplace, anyway): that men and women are indeed different; nor is it obvious, in a sane world, why that should be such a scandal. For these differences, qua differences, are value neutral. My working-class mother, who never finished high school, is not obviously inferior as a person to Heather MacDonald, despite my own admiration for that excellent and courageous scholar-journalist.
It is well-established by Pinker and other scientists that women have higher IQs on average, while men preponderate the extremes of brilliance and dullness. Many if not most Google employees surely do have exceptionally high IQs. That men should so excel at the Google corporation—as they do at so many other things at the highest level—reflects Nature itself and is consistent with a massive amount of empirical findings. It is also consistent with many traditional stereotypes, for the most part. The psychologist Lee Jusim, among others, has done excellent work on the overwhelming accuracy (though typically, much suppressed) of stereotypes. If you want to see a humorous example of the truth of stereotypes, see the exceedingly emotional reactions by the female Google employees—who have made their disgust well-known on Twitter—that Pichai describes in the second paragraph where I quote him above. It is reported that many female Google employees stayed home from work on Monday, triggered into melancholy by Damore’s truthful words. Tragically, the feminist quilting bee soon degenerated into a wild intersectional tizzy, the rotund blue and pink-haired ladies of various races and gender identities squabbling over whose cat should first be allowed to peck at Damore’s soon to be flayed carcass. Looking at the photos and social media accounts of Google’s Diversity-rabble, one is struck by how stereotypical they are; virtually everyone looks fresh from a Judith Butler conference at Bryn Mawr college: trans-this, queer-that, communist, ad nauseam. Defective specimens of divorce culture, therapy culture, and human folly and degeneration generally. Persons who, hardly ever having been around traditional masculinity, cannot but misunderstand it, and with the all-too-human fear and hatred of the unknown. Perusing pictures of Google CEO Sundar Pichai, one perceives, quite palpably, a typical skinny, weak, effete twenty-first century Last Man: born to take orders from nasty women and resentment-pipers generally
Gender differences may be bad news for Feminist Dogma, yet as Pinker says in his talk, the truth cannot be sexist, nor should it be “harmful”—to an adult mind, at least. Of course, like Lawrence Summers, who was obliged to step down from the Harvard Presidency a while back for not going along with Feminist Dogma, Pinker has caught fire from feminists—increasingly nasty women, as it were. Sundar Pichai, like our feminists, says all the right things about diversity and the like, but when it comes to the reality of one gender being better, on average, at, say, engineering, he goes in for cant about “harmful gender stereotypes.” If, though, anybody was to say, what there is also much evidence to support, that women, on average, are better at language skills than men, nobody would be troubled. Such hypocritical intolerance by the partisans of tolerance should be expected to continue apace, unless we others make a principled stand. Looking at the academy and at our intellectuals in general, we may wonder how so many people can manage to walk upright without a spine. Alas, more vital work for the deplorables.
The Diversity Idol is confused and inherently self-defeating. As Debra W. Soh puts it in the The Globe and Mail,
research has shown that cultures with greater gender equity have larger sex differences when it comes to job preferences, because in these societies, people are free to choose their occupations based on what they enjoy.
As the memo suggests, seeking to fulfill a 50-per-cent quota of women in STEM is unrealistic. As gender equity continues to improve in developing societies, we should expect to see this gender gap widen.
The Diversity Idol also reeks of hypocrisy. Where are all the calls for more women in bricklaying and coal mining, fields in which there are hardly any women?
As for women’s relative lack of leadership positions, at Google and elsewhere, much the best explanation is that by Jordan Peterson. The issue is not so much lack of ability as (sensible) lack of interest. Why, Peterson asks, should women want anything to do with what is commonly called leadership, seeing as it is generally a quite mad and foolish affair (endless work and stress, all for wealth that does not make happy)? Women’s relative lack of interest in so-called leadership—which ultimately, today as yesterday, amounts in the main to men vying to outdo one another in order to win the favor of women in the sexual marketplace—signifies their greater good sense, which certainly is of a piece with their greater psychological and emotional discernment generally, and quite a long way from man’s lunatic competitiveness and zeal for mammon. It is well to reflect on just what women are really missing out on by not exercising the power that men do, all in all. Is it a power worth having, most of the time? Do we not find our highest good when we are free to pursue that which has inherent value? Then too, there is the reality, hardly recognized in our time, that, as G.K. Chesterton put it, “feminism is mixed up with a muddled idea that women are free when they serve their employers but slaves when they help their husbands.” For my own part, though an awful cook, I should rather be a house husband at home tending to my children than live a professional death-in-life at some touchy, humorless office.
In our status-obsessed society, there are constant gripes about how women are “excluded” from exercising power in the workplace. Meanwhile nobody says anything about the enormous psycho-biological power women possess simply by virtue of being women. This power, of course, is essentially determined by a woman’s attractiveness, which is closely associated with youth and good health. No surprise, then, that women all over the world are forever trying to appear as attractive as possible, to the cost of billions every year. Such power, though inevitably prevalent in the workplace itself, far transcends it: it is a law of Nature itself, and indeed one of the strongest. As noted above, the endless male struggle for status mostly comes down to being able to obtain a desirable woman.
Today we see countless attractive young women spending vast amounts of time uploading photos of themselves on social media. How many wish to be a star! Hence that increasingly common phenomenon the duck face, which some might take for a kind of strange medical affliction: “Pucker up,” thinks the generic young beauty in her vanity; “everybody’s watching!” Like women on the many dating websites and apps, these social media darlings find that they can hardly keep up with all the male attention—surely an intoxicating pleasure, although doubtless often corrupting. No matter their intentions, and whether they are aware of it or not, such women are extremely powerful. The notion that a woman like Emily Ratajkowski is “oppressed” because of her “objectification” is absurd beyond description. Hers is a most willful objection; there is massive power in it; and even if the stunner was not affluent through her modeling and other endeavors, she would still not have to work: countess men would get in line to provide for her, now as ever. On the other hand, take away Bill Gates’ billions, and how many women would even give that unattractive, uncharming fellow the time of day?
Google and other corporations, to maximize their profits, feel obliged to keep the diversity crowd happy. Yet there is, ironically, nothing the diversity crowd opposes more than diversity itself. To see this, consider that to effect “social justice,” we must all become thesame, like a mad God who chooses to bungle His creation. For, so long as I differ from you in some way or other, it will always be possible to make a value judgment—of inferiority, of superiority, or of whatever—concerning that difference. And this would be true even if everyone had the same amount of money, even if there were no private property, and so on. For the most part, the social justice crowd is not motivated by benevolent justice, but by wicked resentment: that is why it wants not universal economic sufficiency (which I strongly support, insofar as it is achievable), but equality of outcome; with the result that comparative value judgment will be impossible.
Now equality of outcome derives from human psychology, from the permanent truth that there’s nothing we children of pride detest more than the thought: “That person is better than me.” Seeing other people perceive that superiority induces the same burning, violent envy, like a child who wants to destroy his parent’s favored sibling. Indeed, from childhood on, man—the esteeming animal—defines himself in terms of competition, of rank, of hierarchy. No artist or athlete wants to be equal to another. Not every person, waxing indignant about inequality, wants to make the same income as every neighbor; very few do, in fact. Like suffering and death, this extreme competiveness is a law of Nature, from which we merely issue. Try to get rid of it, and see what mediocrity, corruption and degeneration follow. I say, look around you.
Biographical note: Christopher DeGroot is a writer and independent scholar in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.