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Friday, August 11, 2017

In the Thoughtful, Non-Ideological Spirit of Messrs. James Damore and David Brooks 

by tristero

David Brooks says that James Damore, in his now-famous Google memo about the genetics of gender,  just wanted to have a thoughtful intellectual discussion about science rather than an ideological one about gender. I, for one, am in complete agreement with all such thoughtful initiatives. Complicated problems require thoughtfulness. I too seek to rise above ideology especially when science is involved.

So, Messrs Brooks and Damore, please join me in pondering - thoughtfully, non-ideologically - a problem even more intractable than gender diversity in Silicon Valley.

Let start by saying that truly, I have nothing against individual members of the ethnic/social group I will discuss and in fact, have many friends among them. I also am speaking solely in the aggregate, purely on average. There are, to be sure, many individuals within the group who do not behave the way the average group member does. However, in the spirit of dispassionate, thoughtful scientific inquiry, we are compelled to the following observations and conclusions:

One - It is empirically true that over the course of the long bloody history of homo sapiens, white males who are heterosexual have slaughtered more human beings than those of any other race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Two- There is every indication - which includes real live empirically valid evidence  thoughtfully gathered and cited by men like James Damore, David Brooks, and Charles Murray - that straight white males are genetically quite different than those who are not white, not male, and not straight.

Three - There is no indication that straight white males will mitigate their mass-violence propensities any time soon. They alone are responsible for the original design and deployment of modern weapons of mass destruction. And to date, no other race, no other gender, and no other sexual orientation has actually used them. Only white men who are straight have dropped atomic bombs on fellow humans.

To be quite clear: We are all at serious risk of dying at the hands of straight white males. This is simply an indisputable fact. And it will require thoughtful, non-ideological, James Damore-style approaches across the political spectrum to find ways to do something about this global problem.

Both sides have something to contribute to solving the straight white male problem. Conservatives, as they have in the past for other ethnic groups, will surely propose sterilizing straight white males in order to eliminate them within a generation or two. Liberals might be in favor of extending the right to an equal vote in the world's affairs to all human beings in the hopes that a truly fair vote would remove from power many of the most violently insane straight white males.

To be sure, other human groups have their problems and many different cohorts have engaged in mass slaughter. So don't get me wrong, I'm not saying other groups are perfect! And again, I'm not talking about any particular individual white man who like women. Some are quite non-violent. I'm just talking about the group as a whole.

So, straight white men, you are being both unthoughtful and ideological if you take this personally, as if it's about you. It's not.

Trust me.


Adding: Because the right has so corrupted the public discourse, I feel it is important for you to know that that the above is, in fact, not serious. It is satire. It is intended solely to call attention to the fact that Damore's awful memo, and Brooks's awful column about the memo, are highly ideological rightwing propaganda masquerading as a kind of high-handed reasonableness. In fact, neither is in any way an honest attempt to open up a reasonable dialogue on how to address gender discrimination at Google. By cherrypicking studies and ripping them out of context, Damore adopts a pretense of objectivity so that he can push extreme right sexist memes. And Brooks is, to be frank, too dumb to recognize when he's been had.

In another context, Damore's opinions, while odious bullshit, would be protected speech. In this specific context, they were clearly intended to mislead people, intimidate them, and to personally offend. They are wildly inappropriate and he clearly deserved firing.

Actual analysis of empirical evidence and actual social policy proposals informed by such analyses read very, very differently than Damore's absurdities. For example, I suggest reading this superb analysis of the adult hearing healthcare field by the National Academy of Sciences. It is clear, dispassionate, tightly argued, and offers many specific data-driven recommendations. It is, also, to anyone not involved in the issue (as I am), more detailed than they need to know. But this is what a truly thoughtful in-depth discussion looks like. (By the way, it has sparked an extensive and intensive re-examination of the hearing healthcare industry in America - and substsantive changes.)

By contrast, what Damore was up to was not serious.  His ideas were not being suppressed because he had no real ones to suppress or, for that matter, to engage with. He was just trying to piss people off - and he succeeded. But pissing people off is not thoughtful discussion and no one, especially NY Times columnists, should fall for this kind of con.

In short, if conservatives want to be taken seriously on the basis of their ideas, they need to present those ideas in a serious fashion. And more importantly, they need to have serious ideas to begin with, not bigoted opinions and biases bought and paid for by wealthy masters.