By the looks of things, you have fallen for my clickbait headline. I snared you, hooked you, and stuck you to a sheet of fly paper. Way to go, me!
A more appropriate title to this entry would have been “No One Agrees with Everyone about Everything,” but it would have been less likely to get your attention. I apologize for my deceitfulness, but not for anything else you’re about to read.
I’d also like to mention that this headline was planned at least a day or two before the “Neo-Nazi” march in Charlottesville, and it is purely coincidence that Nazism is one of the themes of this article. I’ve tricked you once and sometimes write satire, but that is the truth.
The immediate reaction to Google’s firing of James Damore has been depressing. While Conservatives, Libertarians, and Liberals (as in actual Liberals, not the ones I am trying to cure) generally appreciated the memo for what it truly argued, the left and the mainstream media have blatantly and, I suspect, sometimes intentionally misrepresented what Damore was attempting to say. The pro-diversity memo was called anti-diversity, and the negative impact of biased thinking and echo chambers Damore’s memo addressed was ironically overlooked. Damore’s points were illustrated by the very people who ignored them.
I have seen a few attempts at taking a nuanced look at what Damore said (the Heterodox Academy’s literature review is the most rigorous I’ve seen), and one stood out to me. In an op-ed for PBS (a branch of the Public Broadcasting Corporation which receives nearly $500 million in taxpayer funding every year), research psychologist Denise Cummins attempts to disprove Damore’s claims. Her column is titled “What we can learn from a Google employee’s epic failure to understand gender differences.”
Cummins begins by excerpting a list of claims Damore makes about biological differences between men and women. She then writes “These claims are indeed supported by substantial research on sex differences.” In other words, in her first stab at exposing Damore’s “epic failure to understand gender differences,” she concurs with him.
Her next excerpt is two claims made by Damore about traits that are more common in women than men. These traits lead to each sex being generally more interested in different things, namely women in people and men in things. She refutes Damore by explaining, “As I’ve pointed out in a previous NewsHour article, women, on average, do indeed have more interest in living things than objects, which is why we tend to pursue scientific careers in the biological, social and life sciences.” She supports his assertions again.
Next, Cummins displays three claims Damore makes about innate personality differences between men and women and how they may lead to women being less assertive and more prone to stress in the workplace. Damore carefully avoids overgeneralizing by explaining, “these are just average differences and there’s overlap between men and women.” Cummins argues that, “substantial data support an alternative view, namely that people are more accurate at assessing the performance of workers of their own gender.” She cites a study from Georgetown University that supports this viewpoint (though this female former Google tech leader had a dissimilar experience). Even giving the benefit of the doubt to the Georgetown study’s findings, it does not refute anything Damore says. It simply adds nuance to the discussion.
In Damore’s introductory paragraph to his memo, he admits his arguments are, “by no means the complete story, but it’s a perspective that desperately needs to be told at Google.” It seems that what Cummins calls an “epic failure” is more like a failure to account for every single tidbit of nuance regarding several complex issues within the confines of a 10-page memo, irrespective of the fact that Damore openly conceded this at the memo’s outset. If Cummins’s point is that Damore could not make the impossible possible, I unequivocally agree with her.
Cummins’s last gripe is to disagree with Damore’s skepticism about empathy’s role in the workplace. She cites a single study and refers to the results as “objective facts.” So much for nuance…
In the end, Cummins winds up citing Damore himself to support claims that men have a greater drive for status and that this drive is rewarded in the workplace (one of Damore’s suggestions is revamping this reward system to encourage more gender diversity at Google).
How can Cummins refer to Damore’s memo as an “epic failure” to understand something while agreeing with, providing nuance to, or simply noting that there are alternative views to everything Damore actually does understand?
This brings me to my larger point. There are no two people in this world who agree with each other on everything. We have different experiences, different interests, different perspectives, and different abilities, so no two of us are exactly alike.
Conservatives and Libertarians (myself included) often deride college-liberals for acting like special little snowflakes, but the real criticism should be that each of them is indeed unique, not an exact replica of anyone else! We actually are special little snowflakes! The problem is that we refuse to accept and celebrate this!
This was Damore’s message too: “treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism).”
After over two years of blogging and largely critiquing progressives, I have come to realize that my top two political priorities are shared by most principled, hard-line left-wingers: absolute freedom of speech and keeping the US out of the internal affairs of foreign nations. I sometimes get blue in the face arguing with Leftists, but we align beautifully when it comes to two of our greatest causes.
People often lead into a statement by saying “I don’t agree with everything so-and-so says, but (insert point of agreement here).” I’ve heard this from people talking about opinions expressed by Ben Shapiro, Noam Chomsky, Tucker Carlson, Margaret Thatcher, Adam Carolla, Richard Dawkins, and every president in modern history. Why do we feel the need to remind our fellow man that our minds do not perfectly mirror the minds of other individuals? Shouldn’t this be assumed?
In light of the recent events in Charlottesville and the ensuing hysteria, I think it’s worth noting that Muhammad Ali, who is considered a Civil Rights hero, and Richard Spencer, who is considered an intolerable monster, share parallel views on race and integration. Both oppose America’s interventionism too. And to leftists against school choice and in favor of single-payer healthcare, you’re on Richard Spencer’s side, not mine.
Hitler once said, “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.” And, to some extent, the media’s lies about the Damore memo prove Hitler correct. I don’t agree with everything Adolf Hitler said, but…