As I've learned more about him, I like Paul Graham less and less.read more
But those who privately thought things had gone too far were given a voice by James Damore, 28, a soft-spoken Google engineer. Mr. Damore, frustrated after another diversity training, wrote a memo that he posted to an internal Google message board. In it, he argued that maybe women were not equally represented in tech because they were biologically less capable of engineering. Google fired him last month.
monstermac77: Obviously I figure you know about Damore.
monstermac77: But I didn't know this until today
Paul Graham, who founded an influential start-up incubator, Y Combinator, posted two articles about how the science behind Mr. Damore’s memo was accurate.
monstermac77: (this is all NYT quotes) https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/23/technology/silicon-valley-men-backlash-gender-scandals.html
[redacted] Meh I’m not prepared to condemn someone for expressing a controversial idea
monstermac77: Yeah I mean if he was just presenting facts, fine
[redacted] I think that coming out in favor of the platform of men’s right is problematic just in its own right
monstermac77: but like, I'm not like super thrilled about jumping to the aid of someone who is clearly in the wrong
monstermac77: yeah exactly
[redacted] But I’m not gonna be part of the lynching squad
[redacted] How clearly in the wrong was Damore?
monstermac77: I'm pretty confident that at least part of his manifesto was clearly in the wrong.
monstermac77: I mean I think one of his theses was "boost productivity"
monstermac77: premises, rather
monstermac77: like that's the goal of the company
monstermac77: I haven't read this but I trust Wired to do it justice: https://www.wired.com/story/the-pernicious-science-of-james-damores-google-memo/
[redacted] Are you saying that he’s incorrect in identifying a company value, identifying an immoral value, or misidentifying a problem in furthering that value?
monstermac77: "incorrect in identifying a company value", in a way. Mostly like the point of a company, in my mind, is not solely focused on boosting productivity at the cost of all other things. I think that's precisely how you get into situations where you have companies where it's not welcoming place for certain people to work
monstermac77: For instance, think of Uber. They didn't fire that guy who sexually harassed multiple women because he was a "high performer".
monstermac77: If they struck more of a balance between "performance" and "good morale", then they probably would have fired that guy.
monstermac77: and then I think there's an argument to be made about a company respresenting the people it serves actually resulting in better outcomes for investors / customers etc, but that's harder to prove.
monstermac77: But there are def stats around it
Private technology companies led by women are more capital-efficient, achieving 35% higher ROI, and, when venture-backed, 12% higher revenue than startups run by men
In a study of over 350 startups, Mass Challenge and BCG determined that businesses founded by women deliver higher revenue—more than 2 times as much per dollar invested—than those founded by men, making women-owned companies better investments for financial backers.
[redacted] But that’s just your philosophy right? Like I for one whole heartedly disagree in the sense that I don’t think companies are institutions for social good. Why can’t he disagree and say that he thinks that companies are vehicles for maximizing shareholder value?
[redacted] I think condemning that perspective is authoritarian and only works while you’re the in group
[redacted] Like he’s not even saying that these are issues society or even google shouldn’t address
monstermac77: Sure, he can do that, and that's all fine, and I can argue at a different level with him on that. But then that'd lead to a more fundamental thing which is that I think his "science" was cherry picked.
[redacted] Just that these issues come at the cost of another concept
[redacted] I guess maybe I misunderstood the tone of your initial message
monstermac77: Which initial message?
[redacted] I thought you were condemning morality
monstermac77: The morality of whom?
[redacted] Sorry, PGs
monstermac77: Ah, I just think that was a pretty stupid move on his part and I think it could reveal something about his inner feelings on the topic, but I'm not ready to draw conclusions. I def looked up to his stuff, like his essays about starting his first company in Boston and all that, and hearing that he like came to the defense of the Google guy, even if technically the Google guy was right scientifically about like 2/10 things he claimed in the article, doesn't make me feel good.
monstermac77: It's like putting PG on "watch", basically. Like I would be less surprised if we found out some bad shit about him or something. I was pleased that when we went for the YC interview it was like maybe 50% women on YC's side, room of 4-5 people.
monstermac77: Does that make sense?
[redacted] I hear what you’re saying and maybe I’ve been poisoned too much by PG’s writings
[redacted] But to me I think that the problems with social discourse emerge on account of putting people on watch
[redacted] Like the concept that you reject a person instead of their ideas
[redacted] Especially in the case of a PG who has evidenced almost exclusively that he believes in equality
[redacted] Idk if I’ve sent you this video before
[redacted] But I think it’s important in defining my own moral framework
monstermac77: Just read the Youtube description. Definitely seems interesting, I'll watch it.
monstermac77: But basically to respond to your statements above:
monstermac77: (also btw did you watch the billionaires thing yet by hasan minaj?)
[redacted] No but I’m going to
[redacted] It’s not lost on me
[redacted] End of day tomorrow is all I need
Like the concept that you reject a person instead of their ideas
This is a problematic thing, but the reason I'd be rejecting the person is specifically because of their ideas/actions. Like you can espouse equality all you want, but if you come to the defense of someone who is exaggerating/cherrypicking science to support their worldview, and that worldview ("we need to reduce our discussions on diversity/inclusion for women in tech") is actively, in my opinion, harmful, then I think you need to be aware of the optics of that and how women probably aren't going to see PG as an ally when he came to the defense of the Google guy.
monstermac77: Frankly it'd be important to look at exactly what PG said, because it's possible that the NYT took him out of context. Maybe he was like "this guy is wrong on so many levels, but these two points he makes are indeed scientifically true"
monstermac77: In which case good on him, no concern there.
monstermac77: Trying to do my due diligence now, but can't find any original tweets/etc from Paul Graham. Just this:
How do you feel about the way the internet reacted to his post?
Edith: Emotionally drained, mostly. The general advice of “don’t read the comments” and “don’t feed the trolls” is hard to remember when the takeaway from the memo is literally that the onus is on me to prove to men in tech that I’m not an “average” woman – it’s so hard to see so many defenses fly by full of inaccuracies and problematic claims that I know I shouldn’t spend the time and energy to respond to, but I feel like if I don’t, they “win”. I’ve been deeply disappointed to see a number of big names in tech defend this in ways I find really frustrating – like Paul Graham suggesting in a tweet that the strong reaction is due to “worry [the claims in the memo] might be true.” (No, I’m just exhausted by having this same damn argument over and over again since I was a teenager and the amount of time and energy I keep having to spend to counter it.) There is a whole spectrum of reaction that influential tech leaders could take on this, and I’m really bothered by the number I see that are on the far end of dismissal of the hurt and damage many of us are experiencing.
monstermac77: - https://blog.ycombinator.com/ask-a-female-engineer-thoughts-on-the-google-memo/
monstermac77: here it is
monstermac77: So it looks like he said that and according to the NYT he also tried backing up Damore's science with some evidence.