MSM And James Damore

The Guardian reports that James Damore is considering legal action against Google.  James was fired because he suggested alternative diversity actions that Google did not want to consider or discuss.  Below we have taken the first two paragraphs of the article and made comments in bold with [].

The computer engineer fired by Google
[A good start] 
for suggesting women are less suited to certain roles in tech and leadership
[Nope. It is about overlapping distributions with different means.  He does say that the percentages by gender and race can be different because of mean differences.]
is considering taking legal action against the company.
[That’s what they report]
James Damore, a chess master who studied at Harvard, Princeton and MIT and worked at the search engine’s Mountain View HQ in California,
[We didn’t look these things up but we accept them]
caused outrage
[Boy did he ever!]
when he circulated a manifesto
[Well, yes it is a written statement by James outlining his views.  We see manifesto as akin to fascist in terms of its negative connotation.]
at the weekend complaining about Google’s “ideological echo chamber”
[Yup.  The evidence, his firing, confirms he was right.]
and claiming women have lower tolerance of stress
[The whole point of his memo was that populations can have different means but substantial overlap.  James said that women, on average have more openness, extraversion, and neuroticism.  The latter causes them, on average, to have higher levels of anxiety.]
and that conservatives are more conscientious.
[Don’t worry he said lots of negative things about conservatives.  What he did actually say (p. 8) is that Google should stop alienating conservatives because viewpoint diversity is arguably the most important, conservatives need to express themselves, and conservatives tend to be higher in conscientiousness, part of the Five Factor model that James uses elsewhere.]

It seems to us that The Guardian missed the most pro-conservative point in the memo when James went the full George Will and said that viewpoint diversity is (arguably, he hedged) the most important.  Every progressive should be aghast at that statement but we have not seen mention of it.

James, we predict, will get enough money from Google that he doesn’t need to sue The Guardian.  Of course, his relationship with the paper is different than with Google so his opportunity is not as great but they are clearly part of the echo chamber he wants to have a discussion with.  It is unfortunate that they do not want to have a discussion with him.

 

Bad Rhetoric

Nicole Gelinas is taking aim at James Damore’s argument over at NRO.  She says that James has a right to his opinion but he is wrong:

[Google] claims to encourage internal dissent and debate, and that is what Damore provided. But the contents of his memo are nothing to celebrate: He said nothing that hasn’t already been said, in tiresome fashion, for decades.

Nicole then does what she accuses James of without even a change of paragraph:

Damore, like any novice rhetorician, relies on straw men. He is concerned that in aiming for perfectly equality of the sexes, Google will deplete its financial resources and become less competitive. Google’s tech workers, however, are 80 percent male, and its leadership is 75 percent male. If the company is indeed striving for numerical equality, it is a long way from the danger zone.

She actually does it right in the title: Biology Is Not Destiny.  Nowhere does James make such a claim.  Means are different.  Does Nicole think that the 39 percent Asian-American tech force at Google (her stat) is the result of bias?  The are two differences.  The first is that nobody can accuse Nicole of being an novice rhetorician.  The second is that James is explicit about using the extreme case.

Google has been emphasizing diversity for quite a period and spend lots of money without moving the needle.  Biology is not destiny.  But sexes and races can and do have different means.  Yes, John McEnroe is roughly right about Serena Williams.  If you don’t accept that you end up like universities.  You may remember that the provost at American University denied tenure to Carolyn Brown, who identifies as hispanic, because of her Student Evaluation of Instruction (SEI) scores.  More important for our discussion are the diversity reactions like her chair (well, actually director but it sounds like a chair):

But [John] Watson warned that scholars of her stature, particularly scholars of color, get offers to go elsewhere fast.

“It’ll be a yearlong process to replace her,” he said. “The likelihood we’ll get another woman who is a minority is a tick above zero.”

We understand John’s attitude.  Leadership, including the provost is all over him to get diverse faculty members but then the provost fires Carolyn.  All of the department’s work has gone for naught.  If you asked is there a separate market for diverse faculty the answer would be yes.  The prices are higher because the completion is intense.  Or Carolyn’s reaction:

“They used me as a face of diversity,” Brown said, “and when I went up for tenure, they threw me away. It’s really disappointing. I’m still kind of devastated.”

You can’t fire me because I add the diversity that you crave.  We interviewed for a chair position at another school.  Part of the interview was to meet each of the faculty individually.  One meeting was real short because the faculty member said that her diversity status made her untouchable.  She may have been right.

Nicole is wrong.  The outcome of Google is not going to be a few yoga classes.  Question: does Nicole want to exclude men from those classes?  Google has already spent years and many millions on this.  If they want to meet their goals they will move further towards the university model with different hiring standards and different retention standards depending upon your diversity value.  If you want diversity you can get it because universities do but the cost is high.

 

 

Hire Sophie

Sophie Mann is a senior at Scripps College, part of the Claremont University Consortium, and a Bartley Fellow at WSJ.  After discussing the much publicized events this spring at Claremont and elsewhere she concludes her WSJ column:

Even at the University of California, Berkeley, where spring riots shut down speeches by conservative controversialists Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter, administrators now say they’ll allow the College Republicans to bring author Ben Shapiro for an appearance in the fall, a request the dean of students initially denied.

That actions such as these are considered unusual, even courageous, is a sign of just how bad things are on campus today. But colleges and universities across the country should be following the examples being set in California.

Do read the whole thing to appreciate how level headed a college student could be.  Sophie gives us more confidence for the future of free speech than the often uncertain actions of a few college administrators.

Firing Adjunct Professors

Adjunct professors at both the University of Delaware and Essex County College in Newark, NJ have been fired.  Delaware fired (it says here that she will not be rehired and that makes more sense) Katherine Dettwyler  for her comments about Otto Warmbier on Facebook and in the comment section of David French NRO article on the Left’s hate as shown toward Otto and others.  David concluded:

It’s incumbent on each of America’s great political movements to do their best to police their own, and the Left has failed, utterly, to address the hatred in its midst. [We agree]

It appears that Katherine took exception with David’s point although her comment has been taken down.  Here is what she reportedly said on Facebook:

[Katherine] wrote in part that [Otto] “got exactly what he deserved.” She continued by saying that [Otto] was “typical of a mindset a lot of the young, white, rich, clueless males” she teaches.

Essex fired Lisa Durden because:

[She] appeared on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” to defend a black-only Black Lives Matter event has been fired after the college’s president said she made racially insensitive comments on the show, according to reports.

We have three issues to consider: Public schools, adjunct professors, and free speech.  Both of these are public schools so free speech is a real issue.  Private schools have more legal flexibility in hiring and firing.

These are adjunct professors.  That usually means that they teach one or two classes, are hired on a short-term basis, e.g., a semester at a time, and are not paid much.  Neither school had to “fire” them because it was unlikely that Katherine and Lisa had a contract for the fall.  It is an important point that both schools chose to act in such a public matter.  Although we disagree with Katherine and Lisa’s opinions, we also think that the schools acted improperly.

Sidebar: We don’t agree with Katherine that being white and male was the cause of of Otto’s death but we do wonder why he chose to go to North Korea.  We crossed a few feet into the North inside a building at the DMZ with an ROK guard to protect us and still felt nervous.  End sidebar

We support Katherine and Lisa’s right to free speech.  They chose to give their opinions on Facebook, NRO, and Tucker Carlson.  We don’t see that they give up their First Amendment rights because of their opinions.

The political part of this is very interesting.  We see that schools are taking actions against what appears to be leftists.  School are aware that their brands are slipping because of identity politics.  They need, however, to work on bigger issues like majors offered, curriculum, and external speakers and not make such a big, and inappropriate, fight about a couple of part-timers.

At Least One Punch For Free

The Wisconsin Assembly has passed a law supporting free speech at the University of Wisconsin System campuses.  It would still need to be passed by the WI Senate and signed by Governor Walker.  NPR reports:

Students who disrupt campus events at University of Wisconsin System schools could be expelled under a bill approved Wednesday by the state Assembly.

Under the proposal, students who are found guilty of engaging in “violent or other disorderly conduct that materially and substantially disrupts” others’ free expression would be suspended after two offenses and expelled after three.

The measure is sponsored by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, who has said he believes it to be “one of the most important” bills to be taken up by lawmakers this session.

“One of our fundamental rights, one of the most important parts of being an American, the right to free speech, is under attack,” Vos said during debate. “On far too many college campuses, different points of view are not even allowed.”

The bill would allow any person to report another person for disrupting free expression. A formal investigation and disciplinary hearing overseen by the UW System’s Board of Regents would be required for anyone who has been reported twice for such disruptions.

The proposal also requires UW System institutions to provide training and orientation on the new speech policies to students and employees.

We are not big fans of handling free speech at the state level but this looks to be extraordinarily weak tea.  It seems to give protesters one or two free punches.  We think, depending on the circumstances, penalties for one violent disruption of speech should include suspending or expelling a student.  Naturally, the left is in a tizzy as indicated by a Facebook comment:

Making Wisconsin safe for the right wing nazis. “ve muss haff order.”

The opportunities for left wing Nazis was unspecified.  More troubling is the attitude of elected Democrats as reported by NPR:

“The problems with this bill: it is an unconstitutional bill, it is a gag order,” said Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison. “It basically gags and bags the First Amendment.”

Representative Taylor seems to be unfamiliar with the First Amendment.

The potentially useful part of the bill is in the last paragraph of the first quote.  First Amendment training might be useful to students and employees at UW System.  Perhaps we can sign up elected officials too.  We do not expect much from this bill in the event that it is passed.  The same folks will still be running the schools.

 

Teaching Universities A Lesson

There is a clamor to teach public universities a budgetary lesson for their behavior towards free speech and intellectual diversity.  A few weeks ago Tiana Lowe at NRO recommended that we defund Evergreen State University in Washington:

Public funding constitutes 46 percent of Evergreen’s annual revenue — $55.2 million from state appropriations and $32.3 million in state and federal grants. A public college that cannot defend the First Amendment or even the basic safety of its professors doesn’t deserve a cent of the taxpayers’ money.

Republicans in the Washington legislature have introduced such a bill.

In North Carolina it is about the UNC School of Law as Frank Pray reports:

The North Carolina Senate’s budget proposal, now being debated in the House, includes a $4 million reduction in funding to the law school, constituting nearly a third of the school’sbudget.

We agree with Frank when he says:

Instead of incentivizing greater intellectual diversity, in the long run it could endanger the school’s academic standing and embolden campus radicals. Case studies in other states show why legislators should think twice about this kind of meddling.

We think that such moves will drive all of the state schools to the left in support of their colleagues.  It might feel good to conservatives to batter the crazies financially but it will not lead to conservative results.  We need to  find ways to stop explicit behaviors and create incentives for free speech and intellectual diversity.  It is hard legislative work to create such incentives but that is the direction that we need to go.  As in most situations, the conservative solution takes time and effort.

 

Hope Or Defeat?

Elliot Kaufman, writing on NRO, has a story of a ray of hope at a university.  Do read the whole thing and check out the video that it links to.  A cynic might conclude that the cloud of the mob means that hope is forlorn at our universities despite a few brave folks.

The story: The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington describes itself as, “A progressive, public liberal arts and sciences college.”  It has a day of absence each year on April 12 when students and faculty of color meet off campus.  It also has a day of presence but that is not part of this story.  This year, allegedly because of the recent election, folks wanted reverse the situation and evict all the whites from the campus.  Elliot reports what happened first:

One liberal biology professor, Bret Weinstein, took issue with this change. Weinstein wrote a powerful e-mail to his colleagues on March 15. Deeply respectful and generous in tone, he made a simple point: There is a huge difference between a group or coalition deciding to voluntarily absent themselves from a shared space in order to highlight their vital and underappreciated roles . . . and a group or coalition encouraging another group to go away. The first is a forceful call to consciousness which is, of course, crippling to the logic of oppression. The second is a show of force, and an act of oppression in and of itself. You may take this letter as a formal protest of this year’s structure, and you may assume I will be on campus on the Day of Absence.

You will not be surprised how these folks reacted to the professor.  Elliot says:

Students occupied and barricaded the campus library, and accosted Weinstein outside his classroom. As you can see in this video, the mob surrounded him, yelled at him, swore at him, and openly admitted they did not want to allow him to respond. In the video, Weinstein nobly seeks to engage in “dialectic” with the student protesters, hoping to use “disagreement to discover the truth.” For a professor of biology, this is rather impressive stuff. But he misjudges the mob. “We don’t care what terms you want to speak on,” one student explains to supportive cheers. “This is not about you. We are not speaking on terms — on terms of white privilege. This is not a discussion. You have lost that one.”

Elliot concludes by asking what the students, faculty, and administration will do about this injustice.  He reports that two students stood with the faculty member.  There is no report of the faculty or administration supporting him.  Eugene Volokh reports that an administrator confirmed that it would be safer for the professor to stay off campus.

Professor Weinstein and the two students are a small ray of sunshine.  The inaction of the faculty and the administration in response to mob violence against free speech and especially reasoned speech are an enormous cloud of gloom.  Universities exist for reasoned speech.  We know exactly why universities are currently held in such low regard.